Alumni were honored during the 2019 Alumni Awards Celebration at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Honorees included Abbey Award recipient Justin McMechan 2009; Outstanding Alumni Victoria Ramirez 2002, Perry Schermerhorn 1979 and 2017, and Paul Carrier 1987 and 1997; and Athletic Hall of Fame inductees Jessica Forsline 2002, Tom Andrades 2000, Christie Chappell Kopietz 2006, and Gary Warren, coach and assistant athletic director. 

alumni awards picture
(from left to right) Justin McMechan, Gary Warren, Christie Chappell Kopietz, Jessica Forsline, Tommy Andrades, Paul Carrier, Victoria Ramierz, and Perry Schermerhorn

The Abbey Award (Young Alumni) recognizes alumni that have distinguished themselves in their professional field and/or volunteer activities. The award highlights the tremendous talents and contributions that young alumni make to their profession, to their community, and to the University.

The Outstanding Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed on UMN Crookston alumni by the alumni association. This award recognizes alumni who have displayed exemplary commitment and service to community, education, family or in their occupational field. 

The Athletic Hall of Fame inductees UMN Crookston athletes who during their time here had high character, for personal conduct in sports, personal contributions to the ideal of sports, as well as academic performance. Furthermore, they earned two letters in one sport or one letter in two or more sports. 

Abbey Award (Young Alumni)

Justin McMechan 2009

The 2019 Abbey Award recipient is Justin McMechan (BS 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 later became a Doctor of Plant Health with a Ph.D. in entomology 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. 

Outstanding Alumni 

Paul Carrier 1987 & 1997

Paul Carrier (BS 1987 and 1997) is a 40-year member of the restaurant institutional food service industry. Throughout his culinary career he has held multiple 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 and quality educational experience, but acted as 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; all of whom 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 and Guest House of Milwaukee Sandwich Project.

Perry Schermerhorn 1979 and 2017

Perry Schermerhorn (BS 1979 and 2017), a 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 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 Ramierz 2002

Victoria Ramierz (BS 2002), a 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. 

Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee

Tom Andrades 2000, basketball

Tom Andrades (BS 2000) is an information technology (IT) project manager at Michigan State University. In his spare time he 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. 

Andrades 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. He 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 2006, soccer

Christie Chappell Kopietz (BS 2006) is a business management graduate of the University of Minnesota Crookston. 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 (25) and most career total points (62). She also holds records for most career starts (78) and most game winning goals (5). An outstanding soccer player, Kopietz also played tennis for the Golden Eagles. Serving as president of the organization, she was a four-year member of Student Athlete Advisory Council. 

Gary Warren, hockey coach and assistant athletic director

Gary Warren (coach) was an athletics staple at University of Minnesota Crookston for 16 seasons; originally serving as head men's hockey coach from 2001-2009 was then 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 (2003 and 2004); was named a finalist for the NCAA Division III Eddie Jeremiah Coach of the Year Award (2003 and 2004); and was selected MCHA Coach of the Year (2003 and 2005). In his eight seasons as head coach at UMN Crookston, Warren coached five players to ten 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 UMN Crookston - his main responsibilities included leading game management for all eleven intercollegiate athletic programs. 

Jessica Forsline 2002, basketball

Jessica Forsline (BS 2002) is an 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 (20), number one in rebounds per game (23), and is the record holder in blocks (8). Her field goal percentage for a season was .636 in 2001/02; she holds the top spot for field goals made (238) in a season from that same year.  

After UMN Crookston, Forsline went on to Saint 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. 

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