Alumni Awards

Each year, the Mount Marty Alumni Association selects the following alumni awards:

  • The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes a recent graduate (last 10 years) for demonstrating loyalty to MMU, involvement in Church and Civic activities, and the expression of the MMU mission in his or her life.
  • The Distinguished Service to Church and Community Award is given to an alumnus who exhibits notable leadership abilities in service to their Church and/or community at the local, state, regional, or national level.
  • The Distinguished Service to Mount Marty University Award is given to an alumnus who is loyal to the Mission of the University, has shown continued interest and support, and reflects honor upon the school with his or her Christian lifestyle.
  • The Distinguished Professional Achievement Award is given to an alumnus who consistently demonstrates leadership, competence, dedication, integrity, and a commitment to continued education in their chosen profession.

Want to nominate someone?


Congratulations to the 2024 Alumni Award Winners!

This year, the Mount Marty Alumni Association will present the Alumni Awards at the Alumni Honors Luncheon on Saturday, September 21 during Lancer Days 2024.

Outstanding Young Alumna
Emily Jo Bronemann '14

Emily Jo graduated from Mount Marty in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. As a student, she was awarded an academic scholarship and an athletic scholarship for women’s golf for all four years. Emily Jo was active in several clubs and activities, and her work study position was in the Mother Jerome Schmitt Library, which she so enjoyed. 

Since graduating, she has become a Registered Nurse spending the first four years of her career in Rapid City, SD, on a MedSurg Tele floor before transferring to Pre-Op/PACU. While in Rapid City, she was nominated for two Rising Star Nursing Awards both in 2015 & 2016, represented her unit on the hospital’s Pressure Ulcer Prevalence Study Team, and was a member of Pre-OP/PACU Caregiver Engagement Committee. After leaving Rapid City, she took two seasonal nursing positions in Arizona, both in Yuma and Tucson. She credits the Women’s Golf program at Mount Marty for giving her the confidence of tournament play and allowing her to truly enjoy the game of golf. While in Arizona in 2019, she joined the LPGA Amateur Golf Association which she is still an active member of today. 

After leaving Arizona she returned back to South Dakota, working for the Avera Health System both in Sioux Falls and Pierre. While in Sioux Falls working for Avera Specialty Hospital in Pre-Op/PACU, she was nominated for the 2020 Avera McKennan Nurse of the Year Award in the category of compassion. While working in Same-Day Surgery in Pierre, she also was an instructor for the Total Joint Class. 

Emily Jo put her travel shoes back on in the winter of 2021 and has been a Travel Nurse ever since. In that timeframe, she has completed seven travel contracts in two states, both Idaho and South Dakota. 

Emily Jo believes that Mount Marty has and continues to play a factor in many aspects of her career as well as other involvements. Mount Marty provided faith-based learning opportunities, and she continues to stay active in her Catholic faith. Recently she took a pilgrimage to Europe, where she was able to attend Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, Italy, in a chapel dedicated to Saint Benedict, the founder of the Benedictines and patron saint of Mount Marty. 

The friendly campus community and the reputation of the nursing program were two of the main reasons Emily Jo chose to attend Mount Marty. She shared that while speaking with patients, many will ask her where she received her nursing degree, and she is always so excited to share with them her experience at Mount Marty. 

Since graduating, Emily Jo has participated in several “giving days” at the Mount and has made other charitable donations to the University. She stated that without the generosity of the scholarships made available to her, she may have not been able to attend. Mount Marty and the Yankton community will always feel like a second home to her and she is so honored to have been nominated and chosen for this award.

Distinguished Service to Church and Community
Bethany (Bakker) Buitenbos '11

Bethany Buitenbos is the Marketing Director at Chick-fil-A Empire Place in Sioux Falls, SD, where she leads strategic marketing initiatives and brand management efforts. An accomplished professional with over a decade of experience, she previously worked at a local nonprofit, significantly enhancing their digital marketing efforts and facilitating multimillion-dollar fundraising. 

Bethany is deeply committed to community service, volunteering with numerous organizations, including the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, Washington Pavilion, and as a billet host family for the Sioux Falls Stampede Hockey Club. She initiated the "Kids in the Community" program with the Community Learning Centers, promoting community engagement among children. 

Her volunteer efforts also extend to Lasagna Love, Leaders of Tomorrow, Evermore Blooms, South Dakota Kids Belong, Children’s Inn, Make-A-Wish SD & Montana, Levitt at the Falls, and the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation. Bethany's dedication has earned her several accolades, including the recent completion of Leadership Sioux Falls, membership in Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Sigma Pi Honor Societies, the 4 Under 40 Award from the Young Professionals Network, and a nomination for the SME Women in Business Excellence in Marketing award. 

Bethany holds a Master of Arts in Strategic Communications and Digital Strategy from the University of Oklahoma, and dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Graphic Design and English from Mount Marty University. In her free time, she enjoys watching hockey, photography, and spending time with her loved ones.

Distinguished Service to Mount Marty
Jason Nelson '00

After graduating from Mount Marty in May of 2000, Jason started working as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) at Orthopedic Institute in Sioux Falls. While working, a position as a Graduate Assistant ATC with the South Dakota State University Football Team became available mid-season, which led to a degree from SDSU with a Masters in Exercise Science. Jason then returned to work at Orthopedic Institute and covered University of Sioux Falls athletics for four years, the Sioux Falls Canaries Baseball Team for two summers, and West Central and Tri-Valley school districts for 1 year. Jason and his wife, Jill Sternquist, then moved to Omaha while she attended Creighton Medical Residency program. Jason enjoyed getting to be a stay-at-home-dad until he found a job as a Durable Medical Equipment Coordinator at Lakeside Orthopedics. 

Then in 2011, Jason and his family started their journey back to Yankton and Mount Marty. He became an adjunct instructor in Exercise Science and was a volunteer coach with the baseball team. Over the next decade, Jason has taught classes on anatomy and physiology, wellness and coaching, exercise physiology, biomechanics, sports injuries, fitness, and strength and conditioning. He also conducted the Mount Marty Strength and Conditioning Program, facilitated training for both the baseball and softball teams, and served as the athletic trainer as needed. He eventually took on more permanent roles for the Mount Marty baseball team, serving as the hitting coach, strength coach, and assistant coach. Today, Jason is the Assistant Athletic Director and Athletic Facilities Scheduler for Mount Marty University. 

In addition to all of the official responsibilities that Jason covers at Mount Marty, he also serves the community in many unofficial roles. Over the past few years, Jason helped with an initiative to ensure athletes and students are being fed over holidays and breaks. This led to over 3,500 meals being served in just this past year to help manage costs and feed our students. 

Outside of Mount Marty, Jason has served on the Yankton Baseball Board since 2011 and has been the president since 2014. He’s also been a member of the Yankton Sertoma Board and a coach for Yankton Youth Football. He created and currently runs a youth 7-on-7 football league for third to sixth graders while also being involved in KYNT Pass It Along Youth Clinic. 

Jason and his wife have two sons, Easton and Xavier. 

Distinguished Professional Achievement, Undergraduate Degree
brigadier general kathleen (Bares) Clary '93  

Brigadier General (BG) Clary was appointed Deputy Commanding General of 3D MC(DS) in May 2024. Prior to this position, she was the G-3/5/7 at 3D MC(DS). BG Clary is a native of Tyndall, South Dakota. She currently resides in Seattle, WA. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Mount Marty University in Yankton, South Dakota. She also received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Washington-Tacoma, a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Rush University, Chicago, Illinois. BG Clary is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a Senior Vice President at Health Catalyst, LLC. 

BG Clary attended the AMEDD Officer Basic Course. She was a Distinguished Military Graduate and received a Regular Army commission upon graduation in May 1993. She was then assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center as a Registered Nurse on the surgical floor at Ft Lewis, Washington. BG Clary completed the Critical Care Nursing Course in 1995 and was assigned to the Intensive Care Unit at Madigan Army Medical Center thru 1999. BG Clary transitioned to the Army Reserve in 1999 and joined the 6250th United States Army Hospital (USAH) as the clinical head nurse of the Intensive Care Unit, Cardiac Care Unit, and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. BG Clary was mobilized in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Head Nurse of the Adult and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Madigan Army Medical Center.

BG Clary served in various assignments in and out of the Army Reserve Medical Command. These assignments included but were not limited to Mobilization Officer, Command and General Staff Officer’s College (CGSOC) Instructor, CGSOC Area Coordinator, 328th Combat Support Hospital Chief Nurse, 330th Medical Brigade Chief Nurse, 452nd Combat Support Hospital (CSH) Deputy Commander, 349th CSH Commander and 2D Medical Brigade Commander. BG Clary returned from a 9-month deployment in May 2019, where she was the Deputy Commander of the 452nd CSH stationed at Camp Afrijan, Kuwait. Her Command positions include the 349th CSH in Bell, CA, and the 2D Medical Brigade in Camp Parks, CA, and the 3D MC(DS) OCP FWD DET 11 Commander in Kuwait in 2022.

BG Clary’s military education includes the Army Medical Department Officer Basic Course, Critical Care Nursing Course, Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms Services and Staff School (CAS3), and the Army Command and General Staff Officer Course. She is also a graduate of the United States Army War College, earning a Master of Strategic Studies.

BG Clary’s civilian career includes 15 years at MultiCare Health System where she served multiple leadership roles, including Critical Care Director, Emergency Department and Urgent Care Director, Patient Navigator and Care Coordinator Administrator. The last 7 years she has served as the Senior Vice President at Health Catalyst, LLC, a healthcare analytics company.

BG Clary is married to Colonel Seth Pedersen, and they have two daughters, Natalie and Rachel, and one son-in-law, AJ.

Distinguished Professional Achievement, Graduate Degree
Kristi Steffen '17

Kristi Steffen is a dedicated and passionate 2nd grade teacher at St. Rose of Lima School in Crofton, NE. With 31 years of experience in Catholic Education, Kristi has been committed to nurturing young minds, fostering creativity, and providing a strong foundation for lifelong learning. Kristi holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Mount Marty University as well as a Social Emotional Learning Certificate which she completed earlier this year.

Kristi strives to bring joy into her classroom each day. Her commitment to fostering a positive and engaging learning environment is evident through popular projects and events such as the First Communion Retreat, Thanksgiving Plays and Living Museums, all of which have been eagerly anticipated by her students and their families. Beyond her classroom, Kristi has been instrumental in creating and implementing service projects for her school, demonstrating her dedication to community involvement and student development. Over the years, Kristi has taught Confirmation Classes for the youth of St. Rose of Lima Parish, assisted with a summer religious program, Totus Tuus, is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, and has served on various committees for her school and parish. 

Committed to her professional development, Kristi regularly attends educational workshops on elementary education, integrating the latest research and teaching methods in her classroom. Kristi also enjoys attending the Evangelium Institute Retreat held during the summer, where teachers grow in their faith and pedagogical practices. 

Kristi strives to impress upon her students that lifelong learning is a beautiful gift, encouraging them to remain curious and passionate about acquiring knowledge throughout their lives. She fosters an environment where continuous growth and discovery are celebrated and embraced. 

Kristi’s teaching career has been enriched by the many wonderful students, families, and colleagues she has had the privilege to work with over the years. A highlight of her career was being awarded the 2009 Archdiocese of Omaha Rural Educator of the Year Award, a recognition that reflects her dedication and passion for catholic education.

Kristi shared, “I am blessed to have a job that I love, where each day presents new opportunities to inspire and be inspired by my students. I thank God for calling me to the ministry of teaching, and I am committed to continually growing and learning. I will always cherish the journey of lifelong learning, both for myself and my students.” 

Kristi and her husband, Curt, have four children: Brady & Ashley, Abby & James, Hannah & Seth, and Hope. They have three grandchildren: Kallie, Blake, and Scotty. In her free time, Kristi enjoys spending time with family, reading, baking, and enjoying nature.


2024: Emily Jo Bronemann, Bethany (Bakker) Buitenbos, Jason Nelson, Colonel Kathleen (Bares) Clary, Kristi Steffen

2023: Holly (Byrkeland) Carter, David Schmidt, Sandra (Neuroth) Brown, Victoria Walker, Chris Bender

2022: Jessica (Jurgensen) Clark, Claire (Sung) Reiss, Dave & Marcene (Tomjack) Dickes, Dr. Kevin Kennedy, Dr. Taylor Rehfeldt

2021: Robbie Neswick, Joan (VanWell) & Fred DeRouchey, Andy and Stephanie (Sieler) Bernatow, Adrienne (Bielenberg) Rochleau, Nicholas Wenande

2020: Johanna (Scheich) Jablonoski, Joel Schwiesow, Mary Abbott, Dr. Cecilia Rokusek

2019Jordan Pater. Katie (Heine) Pesicka, Kathy Harens, Ruth Bryant

2018: Jesse Bailey, Amy Majeres Bailey, Joanne Wagner Osnes, Greg Wagner, Carol Brummels Stewart, Javier Murguia

2017: Daniel Filsinger, Robert Kappel, Sister Madonna Schmitt, Amy Brady Lein, Daniel Wagner

2016: Raelynn Coldwell, Frank “Bink” Crisler, Father Thomas Wordekemper, Sister Matthew Wehri, Shawn Gallagher

2015: Mary Pistulka

2014: Jill Orton, Deb Fischer-Clemens, Brock Sundall, S. Penny Bingham

2013: Dennis Heine

2012: Sister Candyce Chrystal, Dan Specht

2011: Deidre Flaherty, Jon Swegarden

2010: Sister Aidan Bourke, Norm Kunselman, Marilyn Pates

2008: Sister Patricia Heirigs, Marvin Veasy, Francis G. Tramp, Dagen Valentine

2007: Sister Cynthia Binder, Phyllis Kneifl Getz, Janet Holzman Beattie, Corey Wittrock

2006: Mary Elizabeth Eisenman Carson, Rev. David Korth, Kayleen Tyrrell Lee, Dr. James Dufek, Nathan V. Johnson

2005: Mary Lois Hunhoff Gibson, S. Ramona Fallon, Dr. Janet Serie, Bernadette Standaert Obert, Doris Parisien Fiedler

2004: Christine Lang Pharr, Carol Kippes Pistulka, S. Marcine Quintus, Gene & Angela Holmes Elder

2003: Alice Jensen Hoesing, Shirley Skrdla Musich, S. Consuelo Chavez, Jason Pistulka

2002: Carol Schmitt Bennett-Dorsey, Myrna Brennick, Denise Proctor, Theresa Swier

2001: Frances Murray Flaherty, Suzanne Reisch Dufek, Marilyn Van Gerpen Ter Maat, S. Kara Payer

2000: George Munn, Marian Dendinger Pyper, Ruth Kornely, Tom Buckmiller

1999: Charles Stastny, Janet Holzman Beattie, Kelly Heller

1998: Rosaleen Doom Krames, Cheryl Commers Hanks, Kayleen Jorgensen Deacon, Scott Swier

1997: Lucille Kribell O'Connor, Kathryn O'Leary Higgins, Norma German Doyle, Dave Abbott

1996: Dr. Mary Shon, S. Jacquelyn Ernster, Alice Baumberger Gannon, Tim Dingman

1995: Kent Lethcoe, Alice Jensen Hoesing, Kathleen Spitzenberger Roehl, Dorothy Stoll

1994: S. Marie Helen Werdel, Barbara Hickey Kramer, Christine Lang Pharr, Michelle Peak

1993: Thomas K. Harmon, Nancy Werner, Brigid Flanagan, David Allen Lyons

1992: Jolene Schwarz Sokol, David Knips, David Fletcher, Michael Klimisch

1991: Joan Rossiter Burney, S. Inez Welchert, S. Adrienne Kaufmann, Matthew Dvorak

1990: S. Mary Arthur Schramm, JoAnn Stransky Thistlewood, Mary Alice Lacey Feltham, Fran Davey Hassler

1989: S. Virgil Koch, Kay Johnson Deacon, Frances Biegelmeier Lowenstein, Sue Boyum Ressler

1988: Arliss Johnson, Joy Hentges Jenkins, S. Rosalie Sitzmann, Br. Nick Feyerisen

1987: Jess Wolf, Donna Meirose, S. Rosaria Kranz (deceased), John Glidden

1986: S. Roswitha Zavadil (deceased), S. Harriet Gobel, Kathleen Lahr Keller, Geri Weiland Loecker

1985: S. Rhoda Foecke (deceased), Norman Kunselman, Cecilia Rokusek, Gary Wagner, Katie O'Donnel Wagner, Terry Wensing, Pam Oberembt Wensing

1984: Adeline Andersen Morck (deceased), Connie Mentele Kass, Janice Joffer Thompson, Tim Glidden

1983: Paula Kertzman Tacke, Rev. Guy Gau, Mary Anne Post Rhomberg, Jeanne Pride Parker

1982: Bernard Hunhoff, Cleopha Fanslow Gumbinger, Viola Breen Bauder, James Dufek

1981: Ruth Landsberger Vickers, S. Kevin Irwin, S. Laurina Kaiser, Dan Wagner

1980: Francine Dold, Ceil Connelly (deceased), Gloria Tysl, Norman Kunselman

1979: Jeanette Dangel, Cecilia Rokusek

1978: S. Phyllis Hunhoff, Fred Ertz

1977: Kathleen Bouska, Dennis Fokken

1976: Florence Rossiter, Paula Kertzmann Tacke

1975: Rita Amberg Waldref

1974: S. Evangeline Anderson

1973: S. Julia Hunhoff

1972: S. Wilma Lyle