2020 Distinguished Alumni


William DengWilliam Deng graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international business in 2010 and a master’s degree in banking and financial services in 2014. Deng, recipient of the South Sudan Humanitarian Award, is founder of the Deng Foundation. His foundation’s goal is to provide children in his hometown of Aweil East, South Sudan, with access to clean water, basic health care, and proper educational infrastructure.

Deng left his home and family in South Sudan at age 14, walking for nine days through the jungle to escape civil war and to seek an education for himself. Deng lives in Aberdeen, where he works as CDFI coordinator for Homes Are Possible Inc.


James HessJames Hess received his bachelor’s degree in 1973 and master’s degree in 1975 from NSU, and his doctorate from UNC in 1994. Hess has presented at state and national conferences on topics such as school district accountability, transportation safety and developing legislative action plans. He has helped lead the efforts to establish/expand three community preschools and regional professional training centers for Reading Recovery. He has helped develop the national award-winning “Students First Program,” pairing students with community success coaches, and the Bemidji Career Academies, which provide real-life career experiences for high school students, earning them high school and post-secondary credit. His numerous awards include the Minnesota Association of School Administrators Polaris Leadership Award, Regional Administrator of Excellence, District 29 Administrator of the Year, Colorado Elementary Principal’s Department Service Award, and National Coca Cola Foundation Educator of Distinction.

Hess was elected president of both the Minnesota Association of School Administrators and the Colorado Elementary Principal Association. He served on the National Governing Board of the American Association of School Administrators, and as state treasurer of the Colorado Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development. He has been a local club officer with Rotary and Lions Club and participated in many community development activities such as Bemidji Leads and the Joint Economic Development Commission. Hess lives in Bemidji, Minn., where he retired after serving 14 years as superintendent of schools. He and his wife, Nikki, have two daughters: Jackie lives in the Twin Cities, where she works for Wells Fargo Corp., and Jayne Ann lives in Idaho, where she teaches deaf preschool children.


James KleinJames Klein received a B.S. in social science in 1969. Klein was named Financial Services Champion of the Year in 2011 by the U.S. Small Business Administration. He earned the Smart Leader Award (Smart Business Magazine), and he received the 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award/Advanced Management and Leadership (Said Business School, University of Oxford). He has received the following master’s level awards: Performance Management and Strategic Perspective (Harvard Business School); and Advanced Management and Leadership (Oxford, Said Business School). He is also an Oxford University Press published author (Global Business/2018). Klein, who received an MBA in 2002, works as principal of J.R. Global. He and his wife, Lola, live in Columbus, Ohio. They have two children, Johann Klein and Amadeus Klein; and four grandchildren, Kylee, Faith, Alexsandra and Braden.


John LopezJohn Lopez  is a product of a place. His people’s ranches are scattered along the Grand River in northwestern South Dakota. Lopez’s forte lies in gentling colts and perfecting their bloodlines— and he started his celebration of them by sculpting in clay. His sculpture studio is located in Lemmon, S.D. Lopez, who received an associate degree in commercial art in 1993, discovered his gift for sculpture at Northern. He is the creator of the Wolf statue that stands in front of the Jewett Regional Science Education Center.

The life-sized sculpture is fabricated out of found objects and shapes of steel that Lopez cut with his plasma cutter. Lopez’s work reflects generations of a life that’s fading into history. It’s a life lived in barns and grain elevators, workshops and pastures. It’s the life of the land he loves.


Joe SengerJoe Senger,  who graduated with a bachelor of science degree in education in 1972, is CEO of Dacotah Bank. Senger coached and taught from 1973 to 1976 in Eureka. He was active in the coaches’ association and president of the local teachers’ association. Senger is past president of the following organizations: NSU Wolves Club and Alumni Association; Aberdeen Development Corporation; Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce; Roncalli Booster Club; and St. Mary’s Church Council. He also served as United Way Campaign Chair in 1992, and has been United Way Rails Club Chair since 1992.

Senger was a Paul Harris Fellow (Rotary) and the recipient of the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce George Award and the Sertoma Club’s Service to Mankind Award. Senger and his wife, Cindy, live in Aberdeen. They have three children: Michelle (Mark) Azure, Todd (Laura) Senger and Brian (Julia) Senger; and eight grandchildren: Michael Azure, Anna Azure, Olivia Senger, Gwyneth Senger, Reese Senger, Audrey Senger, Emma Senger and Everett Senger.



Hamik_HOFJacob Hamik graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in political science and later earned an M.S.Ed. in health, physical education and coaching. Hamik was a member of the NSU track and field team from 2005 to 2008. He is the current NSU and state collegiate record holder in the 400m hurdles (50.92), part of the current NSU shuttle hurdle relay record team, and current Sioux City Relays 400m hurdles record holder. Hamik hit the Olympic 'B' standard qualifying time twice for the 400m hurdles. He is a four-time All-American in the 400m and 60m hurdles, placing as high as third in the 400m distance in 2008. 

In addition, Hamik is a 2-time USTFCCCA All-Academic recipient (2006, 2008); and 5-time NSIC Male Track MVP (2006 outdoor, 2007 indoor and outdoor, 2008 indoor and outdoor). He is a 14-time NSIC Champion (indoor: 400m dash - 2007, 2008; 55m hurdles - 2006, 2007; 4x400m relay - 2008; and outdoor: 400m dash - 2007, 2008; 400m hurdles - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008; 110m hurdles - 2006, 2007; 4x400m relay 2008). He is also a 3-time NSIC Championship High Point Scorer (2006 indoor, 2008 indoor and outdoor). He was the 2005 NSU Track and Field Outstanding Freshman; 2006, 2007 and 2008 NSU Track and Field MVP; and a member of the 2005 NSIC Indoor Men's Conference Championship Team. Hamik now lives in Rapid City and works as assistant general manager for Liv Hospitality.


Hupke_HOFCarlton Hupke graduated in 1973 with a B.S. in business education. Hupke played offensive center for Wolves football from 1969 to 1972. In 1971, the team finished 8-0-1, playing in the NAIA Champion Bowl Semifinal against Arkansas Polytechnic College. Hupke was named All-Conference in 1971 and 1972, and All-NAIA District 12 in 1972. He was also voted Most Valuable Offensive Player in the 1972 season by his teammates.

Hupke coached for 4.5 years, including three years as head football coach at Bristol High School, and 1.5 years as offensive line coach at Aberdeen Central High School. His career also included working many years for IBM, retiring in 2016. His IBM Corp. achievement awards include: 20 100 Percent Clubs during 21 years; five Golden Circle Awards; top 10 percent; and one Leadership Award and one President's Award, both for leadership and high achievement. Hupke lives in Sioux Falls. He and his wife, Mary Jane (MJ), have two children, Trichelle (Ben Petermann) and Janesa; and three grandchildren, Norah, Andrew and Lucas.


Kampsen_HOFAdam Kampsen graduated in 2008 with a B.S. in physiology. Kampsen played baseball for the Wolves from 2005 to 2008, ending with a career .391 batting average, .731 slugging percentage and 45 home runs. He was a 2-time NSIC Batting Champion, the 2008 NSIC Player of the Year, 3-time NSIC All-Conference honoree, 2-time ABCA All-Region selection, 2-time NSIC Preseason Player of the Year, a 2008 ABCA All-America third team member, and the 2008 Top Slugger in the Country.

Kampsen is the Northern State school record holder for single season on-base percentage (.544), and slugging percentage (.968), achieving both in the 2008 season. In addition, he ranks top-10 in career at-bats, batting average, slugging percentage, hits, doubles, triples, homeruns, runs batted in, stolen bases, runs scored, and walks. In his career, he has been named President's Club Winner (top salesman) three times. He now works as a medical device representative for Medtronic in Louisville, Ky. He and his wife, Erica, have two children: Jones and Lenny.


Mahlke_HOFAmanda (Madden) Mahlke graduated in 2010 with a B.A. in art with specializations in multimedia graphic design and advertising design. Mahlke participated in Wolves track and field from 2006 to 2010. She earned nine All-NSIC honors, five NCAA All-American honors, three USTFCCCA Division II Scholar All-Academic honors, and three NSU Track and Field MVP honors. She was NSU's first track and field 2-time NCAA National Champion (weight throw and hammer throw), and is the school record holder in both events.

Mahlke was the 2010 NSU Hildred Wolfe Outstanding Athlete of the Year, ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District team honoree; and United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's Outdoor Field Scholar Athlete of the Year. In 2017, Mahlke was named one of the NSIC top 25 female student-athletes from the past 25 years. Upon her graduation, Mahlke tallied the seventh best throw in the history of the NCAA in the hammer. She lives in Aberdeen and works as a graphic designer for the Northern State University Communications and Marketing Department. Mahlke and her husband, Cody, have two children, Gemma and Harrison.


Ratzsch_HOFKevin Ratzsch graduated in 2009 with a B.S. in physical education. He was a member of the men's basketball team from 2005 to 2009. Ratzsch left his mark on the career records books, ranking eight all-time in career points, with 1,852, and 10th all-time in career rebounds, with 693. Ratzsch remains Northern's record holder for single season free throw percentage, going 55-of-59 from the line (93.2 percent) in 2007-08. In addition, he ranks in the top-5 all-time in career free throw percentage and 3-point field goal percentage, and top-10 in field goal percentage. Ratzsch was a three-time NSIC All-Conference selection and the 2008-09 Northern Sun Offensive Player of the Year. He earned NCAA All-American status in his senior season and was honored as the Northern State Clark Swisher recipient.


Brenda and Jim Fuller coached at Northern State University for 24 years, coaching several championship teams and All-American student-athletes.

J_Fuller_HOFJim Fuller was head coach of the NSU track and field team from 1988 to 2012, and head coach of the cross country team from 1988 to 2003. He coached athletes to 54 NAIA/NCAA Division II All-Americans Awards (36-NAIA/18-NCAA II); coached 815 NSIC All-Conference selections (217 student-athletes); and coached 30 student-athletes who earned 51 USTFCCCA All-Academic Awards. He led 41 teams that earned National (NAIA or NCAA Division II) Team Academic awards.

Fuller worked with 15 student-athletes who earned 27 NSIC MVP awards, and coached six NSIC Championship teams and 43 NSIC runner-up teams. He was named NSIC Coach of the Year 11 times (six for track and field, five for cross country); coached 19 members of the NSU Athletics Hall of Fame; and served as president and vice president of the NCAA Division II Cross Country Coaches Association.

B_Fuller_HOFBrenda Fuller was the head assistant coach for NSU track and field from 1988 to 2012. She was named USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2009. Fuller directed student-athletes to 12 NAIA/NCAA Division II All-American honors (2-NAIA and 10-NCAA II), 23 NAIA/NCAA Division II USTFCCCA All-Academic awards, and four NSIC MVP awards. In addition, her student-athletes won 74 NSIC championships in the shot put (32 individual champions), discus (17 individual champions), javelin (15 individual champions), and the hammer/weight throw (ten individual champions).

She coached five NSU Hall of Fame members (throwers) and was a clinician for the South Dakota High School Activities and Nebraska High School Activities associations. The Fullers work at Iowa Central College, where Jim Fuller is associate head track and field coach, and Brenda Fuller is assistant track and field coach. They have three children: Tyler, Aaron, and Drew; and two grandchildren: Madison Rae, 3, and Mackenzie Jo, 2.