The University of Minnesota Crookston will recognize the achievements of its exceptional alumni during the annual Alumni Awards Celebration. The recognition will take place on Friday, September 27, 2019, in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center. A social begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the recognition program. Contact Rose Ulseth for reservations at or calling 218-281-8439.

award recients

Alumni honored during this year’s Alumni Awards Celebration include Abbey Award recipient: Justin McMechan 2009. Outstanding Alumni for 2019 are Victoria Ramirez 2002, Perry Schermerhorn 1979 and 2017, and Paul Carrier 1987 and 1997. Athletic Hall of Fame inductees include Jessica Forsline 2002, Tom Andrades 2000, Christie Chappell Kopietz 2006, and Gary Warren, coach. To view all homecoming events, visit 

Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees

Tom Andrades 2000 is an information technology (IT) project manager at Michigan State University and in his spare time enjoys modeling and acting, but he left a legacy at the University of Minnesota Crookston in athletics. He attended UMN Crookston from 1997-2000 majoring in information networking management. During his time as a student-athlete at UMN Crookston, Andrades earned Men's Basketball All-American and was named All-Region in 1997-98. 

He was a two-time All-NDCAC pick in 1997-98 and again in 1998-99 and led the NDCAC in scoring in 1998-99 with 22.2 points per game. Andrades was third in the league in rebounding with 7.3 RPG and shot 43.9 percent from beyond the arc during the 1998-99 season. Furthermore, Andrades was part of the first UMN Crookston team to record wins against Minnesota State University Moorhead and other universities. 

Christie Chappell Kopietz is a 2006 business management graduate at the University of Minnesota Crookston and her outstanding achievements as a student-athlete laid the groundwork for her current career as head soccer coach for the Minnesota State University Moorhead Dragons.

Kopietz is one of the most highly decorated soccer players in Golden Eagle history. She helped the team reach their first conference tournament bid in 2003 and again in 2004.

In 2003, Kopietz was named Student Athlete of the Year. She was named to the National Soccer Collegiate Athletic Association Central All-Region third team, one of only two in program history to earn the honor. She holds soccer program records for most career goals scored with 25 and most career total points with 62. She also holds records for most career starts with 78 and most game winning goals with five. An outstanding soccer player, Kopietz also played tennis for the Golden Eagles and was a four-year member of Student Athlete Advisory Council serving as president of the organization. 

Gary Warren was a staple for University of Minnesota Crookston athletics for 16 seasons, originally serving as head men's hockey coach from 2001-2009 before being named assistant athletic director for facilities and operations in 2009. Warren spent 37 years as a coach or administrator in collegiate athletics including his stops at UMN Crookston, North Dakota State University-Bottineau (now Dakota College at Bottineau) and the United States Air Force Academy.

Warren led the UMN Crookston men's hockey program to two Midwest Hockey Association Championships in 2003 and 2004. He was named a finalist for the NCAA Division III Eddie Jeremiah Coach of the Year Award in 2003 and 2004. Warren was selected MCHA Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2005. In his eight seasons as head coach at Minnesota Crookston, Warren coached five players to 10 All-MCHA honors.

He was named assistant athletic director in 2009, a role he held for eight years. During this time, he was an integral part of the leadership team for athletics at Minnesota Crookston. His main responsibilities included leading game management for all 11 intercollegiate athletic programs. 

Jessica Forsline is a 2002 animal science graduate of the University of Minnesota Crookston. As a Golden Eagle women’s basketball player, Forsline was named All-NSIC First Team in 2000-01 and again in 2001-02. She was 2000-01 NSIC Newcomer of the Year and 2001-02 Player of the Year. In her two years at UMN Crookston, she scored 1,040 points. 

Forsline is number three all-time in points per game with 20 and number one in rebounds per game with 23 and is the record holder in blocks with eight. Her field goal percentage for a season was .636 in 2001-02. She holds the top spot for field goals made in a season with 238 that same year. 

After UMN Crookston, Forsline went on to St. Cloud State University to earn a degree in early childhood education. She is currently a basketball and track coach for Mesabi East High School in Aurora, Minnesota, along with being a stay-at-home mom, teacher, and farmer. 

Outstanding Alumni 

Paul Carrier is a 40-year member of the restaurant institutional food service industry. He is a 1987 and 1997 graduate of the University of Minnesota Crookston. Throughout his culinary career, he has worked a vast variety of industry positions such as dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, chef, and more. Currently, Carrier works at the Milwaukee Area Technical College where he is a faculty member/coordinator in the college’s School of Pre-College Education Division in the area of Culinary Arts Career Pathways Program. Carrier teaches, manages, and coordinates a “state of the art” culinary lab. 

Carrier fondly recalls his time at UMN Crookston. “UMN Crookston has provided an opportunity for not only an excellent quality educational experience but a backbone for life skills and work processes for developing personal and professional relationships that last a life-time,” Carrier says. Furthermore, he spoke highly of mentors he had at UMN Crookston including Ken Myers, Sharon Stewart, Keith Ramberg, Lynn Mullins, and Gary Willhite who provided him with guidance throughout his years at UMN Crookston. Carrier was recognized with the UMC Hospitality Association award.

As part of his culinary career, Carrier enjoys being involved in community service projects such as Milwaukee Empty Bowls, Guest House of Milwaukee Sandwich Project, and more. 

Perry Schermerhorn, a 1979 and 2017 graduate of the University of Minnesota Crookston found his passion in agricultural aviation and communication during his time as a student. Schermerhorn works with an air tanker crew at M+M Air Services in Beaumont, Texas and is responsible for delivering fire retardant in support of wildland firefighters. Prior to his current position, Schermerhorn retired from his thirty year position as a B-737 captain for Alaska Airlines.  

Before becoming an airline pilot, Schermerhorn worked in agricultural aviation for a while and continued to do so while he was an airline pilot. 

He celebrated graduating for a second time with his son, Calvin, in 2017. The two, from Gig Harbor, Wash., shared graduation day, but they didn't share majors. Perry, who studied online, is an applied studies graduate and Calvin majored in aviation. 

Victoria Ramirez, a 2002 business management graduate of the University of Minnesota Crookston uses her voice in the community to advocate for others.  

She recalls experiencing a feeling of comfort and belonging at the university. “The University of Minnesota Crookston saved me,” Ramirez says. She explains the comfort of seeing a diverse population of students, feeling at ease in the welcoming environment, and the support that she felt from all of the faculty and staff. Ramirez had previously experienced a cultural shock and direct racism when she moved to the area in 1993, but the Crookston campus felt like a safe haven to her. Not only did Ramirez feel safe, she also mentioned that the university gave her the tools she needed to reach her goals. 

Currently, Ramirez is a social services supervisor for Polk County Social Services where she has been supervising the disability programs for the past sixteen years. She was the recipient of the 2018 Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Award. This award recognizes a Red River Valley native or resident who has actively impacted their community by promoting diversity, multiculturalism, equality, and human rights through demonstrated leadership, service, and advocacy on behalf of underrepresented populations and diverse individuals. 

Abbey Award (Young Alumni)

The 2019 Abbey Award recipient is Justin McMechan, a 2009 agronomy graduate from the University of Minnesota Crookston. After graduating from UMN Crookston, McMechan continued his education to obtain a masters degree in entomology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He went on to earn a Doctor of Plant Health degree as well as a Ph.D. in entomology also from Nebraska-Lincoln studying the oversummering ecology of the wheat curl mite.

Currently, McMechan is an assistant professor for crop protection and cropping systems at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center. Previously, he worked as a graduate research assistant in his field. 

In 2016, McMechan received the John Henry Comstock Award from the Entomology Society of America’s North Central Branch. He has authored and co-authored a number of publications in the field of entomology, an area of interest he has held since he was a student at UMN Crookston. 

About UMN Crookston

One of five campuses in the University of Minnesota System, the University of Minnesota Crookston cultivates curiosity by engaging students in hands-on learning connecting theory to practice. As the experienced leader in delivering education online, the Crookston campus offers a distinctive learning environment providing personal attention and mentorship to develop leaders, lifelong learners, and engaged citizens. Visit Crookston at  

About UMN

The University of Minnesota System, with campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities, is driven by a singular vision of excellence. We are proud of our land-grant mission of world-class education, groundbreaking research, and community-engaged outreach, and we are unified in our drive to serve Minnesota. Learn more at

Story Contact: Shawn Smith