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Alumni Features

Open to change

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Photo of Michael McCurdy with Teacher of the Year award

Having worked for years for a telecommunications company, Michael McCurdy found himself reassessing his career when the company decided to downsize. McCurdy decided to change gears and pursue his interest in teaching.

Putting country first

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Concordia HLS grad Heinz Johnson and his family at graduation

Heinz Johnson went from being a refugee fleeing civil unrest to a role with the Diplomatic Security Uniformed Division at the State Department for the United States. Read about his journey of perseverance, commitment, and heart.

Alumni Notes

Vacation photo of Sherry Eggers

Sherry (Griesse) Eggers, JC ’68

Sherry (Griesse) Eggers, JC ’68 (2nd from left in photo above), former Concordia High School faculty, retired officially this year after 35 years of teaching in several Oregon schools, including Zion Lutheran in Corvallis, Concordia High School/Portland Lutheran High School in Portland, and in the North Clackamas School District, from which she retired twice. She served for four years on the Science Content & Assessment panel for the Oregon Department of Education. Sherry enjoys volunteer ushering at several Portland theaters, quilting, kayaking, golfing, volunteering at the library in Prineville and, with her first grandchild born April of this year, being a grandparent. Sherry is married to Dave Eggers, who attended Concordia High School his junior year. “The photo shown here was taken during a retirement celebration trip with longtime friends (L-R): current Concordia faculty Dr. Julie Rowland, Sherry Eggers, former Concordia faculty Dr. Marilyn (Mo) Moehlenkamp, and Dr. Eunice Eifert. Mo and Eunice both recently retired from Concordia University Chicago.
Photo of Paul Brandmire

Paul Brandmire, HS ’77

Paul Brandmire, HS ’77, writes, “Attention High School Class of 1977: Hard to believe it's been 40 years, but I know a lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge since our CLH days. If you are interested in getting together this summer and relive the good old days in the form of a 40th reunion, drop me line. paulbrandmire@msn.com”
Photo of Richard and Debbie Wildhirt

Richard Wildhirt, ’83

Richard Wildhirt, ’83, and his wife, Debbie, just recently moved to Hastings, Nebraska. Richard now works at Central Community College as a Resource Coordinator, turning classroom courses into online courses. He retired from Boeing after 27 years and landed in Nebraska after seeking a new opportunity.
Photo of Ed and Margaret Sandor Bierman

Ed Bierman, ’86, & Margaret (Sandor) Bierman, ’87

Ed Bierman, ’86, and Margaret (Sandor) Bierman, ’87, are living in Redwood City, California, which is south of San Francisco. Ed earned his master’s degree in library science in 1999 from San Jose State and has been working for Sutter Health, a large medical group in Northern California, for the past 20 years. He is currently the Director of Intranet Services. Ed is an avid cold water scuba diver and underwater photographer. Margaret is a technical writer for Visa Inc. and enjoys traveling and reading. They have two adult children. They love connecting on Facebook with fellow alumni.

Scott Ryan, ’97, MAT ’08

Scott Ryan, ’97, MAT ’08, has been selected as a Coordinator in the Student Services Department of the Multnomah County Education Service District. Scott has been the principal of the MESD Juvenile Detention Education Program (JDEP) for the past three years. During his tenure as principal, he provided oversight for special education and System Performance Review and Improvement (SPR&I) services to youth in detention, 60% of whom receive special education services. Furthermore, he is responsible for SPR&I compliance for JDEP school provides. He developed a tracking program to ensure federal requirements were being met by students receiving specially designed educational instruction, and he created similar systems for students with 504 plans and ESOL. Scott has presented on JDEP and special education topics to the several education leaders and organizations throughout Oregon as well as at Clemson University's National Dropout Prevention Network. He began working in education in 2006 as an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and AVID tutor, and he then became an ESOL case manager and teacher in the PPS and Banks school districts. He received the 2013 National Teacher of the Year award through the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings. In addition to earning his B.S. in business management and communications and his MAT from Concordia, Scott is a fellow of Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, McCourt School of Public Policy. He’s an avid supporter of and foster care parent for animals with special needs. He also loves to travel; favorite destinations include the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, and the hot springs and lagoons throughout Iceland.
Photo of Chris Herold

Chris Herold, MAT ‘02

Chris Herold, MAT ‘02, served for fourteen years at Pilgrim Lutheran Christian School in Beaverton, Oregon, as a teacher and then principal, before accepting a call in 2016 to Trinity Lutheran Christian School in NE Portland as principal. He is a member of the Northwest District Accreditation Commission, recently helped organize an educational foundation at Pilgrim, and volunteers on Camp Baldwin’s steering committee for the Boy Scouts.
Photo of Chris, Angie, and Eliana Canter

Chris Canter, MAT ’05

Chris Canter, MAT ’05, is now the Executive Director to the Campus President at Miami Dade College, West Campus, in Doral, Florida. He holds primary responsibility for key President’s Office initiatives, including SACS accreditation and compliance. Since graduating from Concordia, Chris has earned two Specialist in Education degrees (EdS) in Educational Psychology and Educational Leadership, respectively. He is currently completing an EdD in Educational Leadership at Kennesaw State University.  Chris lives in Hollywood, Florida, with his wife, Angie, and his daughter, Eliana.
Photo of Dan, Melody, and Harmony Hues

Dan Hues, ’06

Dan Hues, ’06, will be celebrating his 5th anniversary in August with his wife Melody, whom he met while on vicarage in Fresno, California. Their little girl Harmony will turn two in August and another little one is on the way, due in December. After spending seven years in Fresno, Dan accepted the call to serve at Zion Lutheran Church in Portland and was installed in May of last year. He writes, “My wife Melody sacrificed a successful foreign language and music school (that she developed from the ground up) in order for us to accept the call to Zion. Yet the call of God was so strong that she does not regret it. It is truly a blessing to be back home serving an amazing congregation in the heart of my favorite city. God has done amazing things for us and we are glad. Feel free to shoot me an email at red.hues@gmail.com. I would love to connect with any and all Concordia alumni!”
Photo of Ebony Price

Ebony Price, ’10

Ebony Price, ’10, is currently an Internal Healthcare Organizer for SEIU local 49. In addition to bargaining and enforcing union contracts, she trains and assists union stewards at PeaceHealth St. John, Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital, and Columbia Memorial Hospital. She also helps organize non-union workers.
Photo of Sarah and Zach Gaulke

Sarah (Adams) Gaulke, ’10, & Zach Galuke, ’16

Sarah (Adams) Gaulke, ’10, shares that after graduation she worked in a few different fields before discovering that she loved working with students with disabilities, so she is currently finishing up her master's degree in education from Purdue University. She just completed her first year working at Pendleton High School in Pendleton, Oregon, as a special education teacher. Sarah’s husband, Zach Gaulke, graduated in May 2012. He received his master's degree from Concordia in 2016 and has been working at Nixyaawii Community School, on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, for four years. Sarah and Zach spend their free time volunteering at their home church, Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Hermiston, Oregon, where Sarah’s dad is the pastor. She is the education director, and Zach is an Elder at the church.
Photo of Raluca, Odie, and Wes Hollingshed

Raluca (Dinca) Hollingshed, ’11, & Odie Hollingshed III, ’11

Raluca (Dinca) Hollingshed, ’11, and Odie Hollingshed III, ’11, welcomed their first son, Wesley Joseph, on March 19, 2017. As teachers, Raluca and Odie are excited for summer break with Wesley! Be on the lookout for Wes running around the volleyball court and baseball field.
Photo of Kari Baxter and her new Mercedes Benz

Kari Baxter, MBA ’11

Kari Baxter, MBA ’11, took a job in administration at a local law school after completing her MBA at Concordia. Along with her day job, she decided to also try her entrepreneurial hand at starting a small side business in network marketing with a Swiss-based health and wellness company called Arbonne. She writes, “In 20 short months, I was able to grow that small business into the top 2% globally. As of June 1, I became a regional vice president, which comes with a complimentary white Mercedes. The car was presented to me by top leaders at a celebration in Portland on July 8. This promotion and business enable me to move forward with a life of helping many. I am working on a book for parents raising children with disabilities, I am being offered speaking opportunities, I’m helping dozens of others through business coaching, and I’m living a life filled with personal development and living with purpose!  The business tools, ethics, strategies, and drive that I learned through my experience at Concordia have helped me to see my future with a bigger score, to understand the power of passion, and to combine both grit and determination to make anything happen. I would love to share more!”

Vanessa Selimovic, ’14

Vanessa Selimovic, ’14, is a graduate student at the University of Montana’s Department of Chemistry. She is currently working on her first first-author paper and just had her second co-author paper published in American Geophysical Union’s journal entitled, “Airborne measurements of western U.S. wildfire emissions: Comparison with prescribed burning and air quality implications.” https://news.agu.org/press-release/wildfires-pollute-much-more-than-previously-thought/. Vanessa is gearing up to do more studies on wildfire emissions for the fall in Northern California. She recently received a $2,500 scholarship specific to a student studying carbohydrate chemistry, in addition to the $3,000 Bertha Morton scholarship she received earlier in the year that Concordia featured. She writes, “On top of my studies, I’m in the process of training to climb Mt. Hood or Mt. Rainier this fall and am spending a lot of quality time with my lovely rescue dog Molly!”

Danielle Bennett, MEd ’15

Danielle Bennett. MEd ’15, is using her Master of Education in Mathematics from Concordia to teach college algebra at her high school alma mater, Clark High School in San Antonio, TX. She writes that she’s very happy that she completed her master’s degree because it has enhanced her teaching and, with the additional experience, she can better help her fellow teachers.
Photo of Ariel Kanable

Ariel Kanable, ’16

Ariel Kanable, ’16, writes, “I never imagined where my Concordia internship would take me! My internship with the Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA) led not only to my Outstanding Graduate of the Year award for the School of Management’s business intern but also to a full-time position right after graduation. I have been with the WCVA for over a year now as their Tourism Development Coordinator helping to market and promote tourism in Oregon’s Washington County. Some of what this job entails is administering our Capital Grant Program, full-scale production of our photo/video shoot series, new and current hotel information/communication, and planning and assisting local and organizational events. Outside of the WCVA, I volunteer with the nonprofit Passport Oregon, which connects youth from underserved communities with Oregon’s great outdoors. I work as the volunteer coordinator to help recruit, retain, schedule, and inform volunteers for our seasons of cohort trips. The goal is to help empower, educate, and encourage exploration of Oregon for those kids who lack the opportunities to see places like Silver Falls, the Oregon Coast, Columbia River Gorge, etc. I played soccer on the Concordia Women’s soccer team during my four years and, while I no longer play competitively, you can still find me playing on indoor and outdoor women and coed teams. Can’t give up the game!”
Photo of Matt Wolfe

Matthew Wolfe, JD ’16

Matthew Wolfe, JD ’16, and his family moved to Boston after graduating from Concordia University School of Law so Matt could pursue his Master of Laws (LLM) in taxation from Boston University. While in Boston, Matt volunteered weekly at Veteran's Legal Services, a nonprofit dedicated to helping low income and homeless veterans. After graduating with his LLM, Matt accepted a position at Generations Law Group in Boise, Idaho. In more good news, Matt's family of three will soon be a family of five as he and his wife are expecting twins at the end of the year. Once he is settled in Boise, Matt plans to reconnect with the veteran community to help ensure all veterans have access affordable legal services.
Photo of Melissa Hatheway

Melissa Hatheway, ’17

Melissa Hatheway, ’17, became a full-time Concordia staff member in the Finance office doing Accounts Payable. During her last semester at Concordia, she studied audit and nonprofit accounting, which has been directly applicable to her current position. She writes, “I enjoy working with the CU faculty and staff who helped me through my journey, and now I get to continue my relationships with them as colleagues. After work and on weekends, you can find me spending time with my nephew.”
Photo of Stephanie Tynan

Stephanie Tynan, MAT ’17

Stephanie Tynan, MAT ’17, writes “I recently graduated from Concordia with my Master of Arts in Teaching; one month later I received an offer for a teaching position! Next school year I'll be teaching third grade – and I am beyond thrilled! My academic experience at Concordia was very practical and applicable to my career, and nothing less than extraordinary. My passion for teaching magnified during the education program, and the university's atmosphere, staff, professors, and my fellow cohort members were so refreshing. Thank you, CU!"
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