USF to Honor Distinguished Alumni During Cougar Days
USF to Honor Distinguished Alumni During Cougar Days
August 3, 2022,
The University of Sioux Falls will celebrate the achievements of seven alumni Friday, September 23 at the Washington Pavilion with an Alumni Achievement Awards Celebration and Dinner during Cougar Days.
These Alumni Achievement Awards recognize outstanding alumni who have made exceptional contributions to their fields of endeavor, their communities and their churches. Leadership, community involvement and program creation are just a few areas for which alumni are being honored. The following awards will be given to the seven recipients below:
- Pacesetter Award: Moses Idris ’20
- As a student at USF, Moses Idris saw a need and an opportunity in his community. He founded the Rising Stars soccer team which offered a group of boys an opportunity to play soccer while also creating a space to build character and receive support. Like Idris, most of these players were refugees from Eritrea. Idris also serves as a translator and interpreter within the Sioux Falls community, helping others who may be facing the same barriers he faced while entering a new country as a refugee who knew no English. Since graduation in 2020, he has passed the U.S. Citizenship exam. The entire Sioux Falls community has identified Idris as an incredible servant leader and an asset to our city.
- Lois Harchanko Distinguished Music Award: Heidi Goeller ’96
- Heidi (Hansberger) Goeller, originally from Worthington, Minnesota, graduated from USF in 1996 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she enjoyed a successful career as a private music instructor. In 2005, Goeller began shifting her musical emphasis from teaching and performing to co-writing and coproducing musical projects with her husband Dan. Their musical works have been performed by churches, universities and community choirs and orchestras around the world. In 2014, she and her husband founded Harmony South Dakota, an El Sistema-inspired free after-school music program in downtown Sioux Falls to provide opportunities for kids to learn valuable life skills such as perseverance, cooperation, self-discipline and compassion. Goeller directs the Harmony choir and chamber orchestra, leads piano and percussion classes, and co-directs Harmony’s two-string orchestras. Harmony currently has more than 80 students from 17 Sioux Falls schools representing 10 different nations.
- Dr. Firman A. Early Distinguished Ministry Award: Dr. Rev. Frank Nelson ’70
- For more than 30, years Dr. Frank Nelson has been sharing the love of Jesus with a special focus on the good that comes from good relationships. He began his career as a pastor in Davenport, Knoxville and Des Moines, Iowa, but spent the majority of his career as the pastor of Woodbury Baptist Church in Woodbury, Minnesota, where he retired in 2008 after 23 years. He graduated from Sioux Falls College in 1970 with an English degree and followed his life calling into ministry by earning a Master of Divinity degree at the Central Theological Seminary. Dr. Nelson received his Doctorate of Ministry from Luther Seminary in the Twin Cities, with a focus on the good things that come from good relationships. As a result of his studies and his understanding of how to make ministry effective, Dr. Nelson founded TalkPoints, a publishing company committed to “making it easy for anyone to have a really good talk.” He has authored over 12 mission journals that have been used by churches across the U.S. for short-term mission trip preparation and reflection. In addition to authoring many marriage preparation tools, he’s worked to help married couples enrich their lives together.
- Dr. A. O. Larsen Distinguished Alumni Award:
- Michael Christensen ’94Since graduating from USF, Michael Christensen has impacted the quality of life for the citizens of Sioux Falls. As a professional, he has made a name for himself at Avera Health in the IT department, however, he is even better known for his service to his community through his greatest passion. His love of bicycling brought him to the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department where he worked with Falls Area Singletrack (FAST) as they established dirt trails in our city’s parks. Now, in 2022, there are trails in seven parks that total over 12 miles with an additional 5.3 miles in the planning stage. Christensen also began racing cyclocross with his son in 2018 and helped bring this event to his community. He became an official for the sport and helped incorporated Sioux Falls Bicycle Racing as a charitable organization in 2022. Christensen’s work with FAST, Sioux Falls Bicycle Racing, League of American Bicyclists and the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department has allowed him to share his passion for cycling and his commitment to helping the community be safe by helping people of all ages through bicycle safety classes. He has also successfully rewritten bicycle-related city and state laws and ordinances to improve safety for bicyclists.
- Lee O. Marks '66After graduation in 1966, Lee Marks started his career in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois, as a fifth-grade teacher and then shifted to physical education and positions as assistant coach for track and football in the Rockford Public School District. In 1969, while still at Guilford High School, he became the head coach of the boys' track team and was the first African American head coach in the school’s history. In honor of his service as both an educator of over 35 years and as a coach for 47 years, the outdoor track at the Swanson Stadium at Guilford High School was named the Lee Marks Memorial Track in 2021. It was during his time participating in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while in college that he was encouraged to continue living out a mission of service to God and humankind by speaking to congregations in Sioux Falls. Ultimately, he carried that mission as a teacher, coach, and mentor to many through the end of his life on Earth on June 17, 2017.
- Jeff ’91 & Heidi Reynolds ’94Heidi (Ross) and Jeff Reynolds are a pair of professionals who are only made better by their love and support for one another. Jeff graduated with a Mass Communications degree and has worked in the advertising industry in Sioux Falls for over 30 years. Currently, Jeff leads the team at Vision Video Interactive, where he is known to be a creative, humble and generous leader. His most meaningful work comes in the form of volunteerism with the United Way. He was honored with the 2017 Yankton United Way Advocate Award for his talent and willingness to give back to his hometown community. Heidi has worked in the Sioux Falls School District since 1996 after being equipped with her Elementary Education degree from USF in 1994 and her Master of Education in 2001. Her training extends beyond typical classroom instruction as she has served as a teacher, reading specialist and now as a member of the instructional leadership team at Pettigrew Elementary. She continues to develop her own learning and is an avid advocate for the learning of others, applying for and receiving many grants to do so. As a couple, Jeff and Heidi have built a life that focuses on their faith, family and community.
Alumni, friends of the university, community leaders and the general public are invited to enjoy an evening dedicated to celebrating the excellence and impact that USF alumni are making in their communities.
The celebration will begin with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. followed by a dinner and program at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at www.usiouxfalls.edu/cougardays under the registration buttons on the right.
The Alumni Achievement Awards Celebration and Dinner is one of many events happening during USF’s Cougar Days. More on Cougar Days at www.usiouxfalls.edu/cougardays.
To read more about the history of the awards or make a nomination for next year, visit www.usiouxfalls.edu/alumni/awards.