2019 Challenge Coin Recipients

Kerry Lurken, Diane Frandrup, Kendrah Pearson, Gina Zimmer, Mike Opp
Kerry Lurken, Diane Frandrup, Kendrah Pearson, Gina Zimmer, Mike Opp

Honoring veterans as well as employees who support veterans

On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, Dakota County Technical College recognized employees who have served in the U.S. military as well as employees who go above and beyond to support veterans and their families at the college.

The recognized employees, Gina Zimmer, Diane Frandrup, Kerry Lurken and Kendrah Pearson, were presented with a DCTC Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Challenge Coin and a certificate during a ceremony on campus in the Dakota Room as part of Military Appreciation Week 2019.

Gina Zimmer

Customized Training Administrative Support

Gina Zimmer is passionate about supporting our student-veteran population. She has served on the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee for three years, and she will do whatever is needed to support our veterans. She has volunteered at Veterans Club fundraisers, packing backpacks for military kids, and has supported Toys for Military Kids.

Gina goes above and beyond to support our veterans on campus and does all she can to help them succeed. Gina’s grandfather, father-in-law and three uncles served in the U.S. Army. She is proud of her family’s service and sacrifice.

“I am honored to receive the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Challenge Coin with three other outstanding coworkers,” Gina said, “as well as being able to serve on such an amazing team as the DCTC BTYR Committee. While working in Admissions, I saw a nervousness with some of our new students returning from their military duties. I tried to make the transition smoother by eliminating as many steps as possible so that they felt comfortable and at ease.”

Gina added that it’s a rewarding experience for her when she meets student-veterans on their way to class, and they can stop and talk about how the school year is going. “I am proud of our BTYR Committee,” she said, “and how each member continually strives to improve the services the college offers on campus and throughout the surrounding community.”

Gina with VP Mike Opp

Diane Frandrup

Registration Coordinator

Diane Frandrup has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support our student-veterans. She coordinates awarding Challenge Coins to veteran-graduates and volunteered at the Veterans Club BBQ fundraiser.

Additionally, Diane has volunteered multiple years at Support Our Troops Haunted House, and she has coordinated the Student Affairs Adopt a Veteran for the Holidays multiple times. Several of Diane’s family members have served in the military, and she brings this firsthand experience and knowledge to our campus to support our student-veterans.

“I am proud to be part of the process in honoring our veterans,” Diane said. “My niece is currently serving active duty and this is my small way of giving back to our vets.”

Diane with VP Mike Opp

Diane with VP Mike Opp

Kerry Lurken

Admissions Representative

Kerry Lurken served as the college’s School Certifying Official for 12 years. He was the go-to staff member for military students for any issues regarding classes, VA benefit, and personal issues. He has coordinated multiple trainings and presentations on military benefits for students and employees.

Kerry is a longtime member of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee and previously served as Veterans Club staff advisor. He has also volunteered at many campus and fundraising events for veterans.

““Every day, I enjoy working with our veterans to ensure their college education is a great experience,” Kerry said.

Kerry with VP Mike Opp

Kerry with VP Mike Opp

Kendrah Pearson

Director of Prior Learning Assessment

Kendrah Pearson has been a huge advocate for veterans receiving credit for their military experience. In 2017, 45 percent of student-veterans indicated that they were not aware of options to get credit for their military experience. Two years later, this number dropped to 7 percent.

This increase in awareness is in large part due to Kendrah’s efforts. She is a member of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee and has coordinated multiple training events for the campus community to increase awareness of our veteran population. She has also volunteered on and off campus.

Many of Kendrah’s family members have served in the military, and her knowledge regarding life in the U.S. Armed Forces serves her well in her role supporting student-veterans at DCTC.

“I am so honored to be a part of making DCTC better for our active-duty service members and veterans,” Kendrah said. “Helping these students get their training recognized for credit is another way to acknowledge them and their service to our country.”

Kendrah with VP Mike Opp

Kendrah with VP Mike Opp

Click image below for BTYR Challenge Coin criteria:

Challenge Coin

More about Military & Veteran Services at DCTC…

Dakota County Technical College is committed to excelling as a veteran-friendly campus. The college was proclaimed a Beyond The Yellow Ribbon Company in 2010 and opened a newly remodeled Military and Veteran Service Center five years later. Military Times ranked DCTC #4 in the nation and #1 in Minnesota on Best for Vets: Colleges 2020: Career and Technical Colleges. DCTC was ranked nationally by Best for Vets in three previous years: #6 in 2019, #7 in 2018 and #12 in 2017.

DCTC is dedicated to meeting the needs of student-veterans and active-duty service members. Some veterans face personal, relationship, education and employment challenges. Veteran’s families also may need support while their loved ones serve overseas and when they return home. Working with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, DCTC provides additional training on veteran support to counselors, Student Affairs staff, faculty and administrators.


Learn more about the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee at DCTC by contacting:

Anna Voight
Associate Director of Student Life
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee Chair