2012 Outstanding Alumni, alumni award winners named

James Karner, Pamela Rodriguez and John Bergum will be named Bemidji State University Outstanding Alumni during a halftime ceremony at BSU’s Homecoming football game, Sept. 29. In addition, Xiaho Hu will receive the BSU Alumni & Foundation Young Alumni award, and Elaine Hazard will posthumously receive the Bemidji State’s Alumni Service Award.

Bemidji State’s 2012 Outstanding Alumni are James “Jim” Karner ’94 of University Heights, Ohio; Pamela (Fladeland) Rodriguez ’76 of Elk Grove Village, Ill.; and John “Terry” Bergum ’72 of Hibbing, Minn.

Outstanding Alumni – James “Jim” Karner ’94

Likely the first Bemidji State alum to blog from Antarctica, Karner developed an interest in planetary geology while studying at BSU. After graduating in 1994 as Student of the Year, he went on to study planetary mineralogy at the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. He earned his master’s degree in 1997 and earned his doctorate in 2003. Now a senior research scientist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, he has authored numerous scientific papers and is a member of the Antarctic Search for Meteorites team. Each year, the team leaves in November, travels through New Zealand, trains at McMurdo Station – the largest U.S. base in Antarctica – and embarks by plane to remote ice sheets where it spends up to 45 days searching for meteorites. Samples are curated for research and public education around the world.

Karner also was a member of Bemidji State’s 1994 men’s ice hockey team which won the NCAA Division II national championship. That year, he was honored as a Second-Team All-American and earned Academic All-America accolades. The Grand Forks, N.D., native continues to share his love of hockey as a volunteer coach at Case Western Reserve and as a recreational player. Ever competitive, Karner also has won several national age-group championships in handball, and he recently completed his first half-marathon.

Karner, who lives in University Heights, Ohio, married his wife, Kristin, in 2012.

Outstanding Alumni – Pamela (Fladeland) Rodriguez ’76

Rodriguez graduated from BSU in 1978 with a social work degree and immediately began work in juvenile justice at the Hennepin County Home outside of Minneapolis. Two years later, she began graduate work at the University of Chicago to pursue a master’s degree in social service administration. Between the first two years of her postgraduate studies, Rodriguez worked temporarily at TASC, Inc. (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) – a state agency that provides alternatives to incarceration and diverts substance-abusing offenders from the court system into community-based substance abuse treatment. Rodriguez earned her master’s degree in 1982 and returned to TASC, where she wrote grants, worked in quality assurance, coordinated public information, managed the prison-based re-entry programs for juveniles and adults and advocated for system and legislative changes. She became the organization’s president in 2009 and oversees organizational development, operations and public policy.

In 2007, Rodriguez was one of nine juvenile justice experts in the nation named to serve on the Federal Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. She also lobbied the Illinois Legislature to address racial disproportionality in drug laws and sentencing, which resulted in a law requiring the Sentencing Policy Advisory Committee to consider the racial impact along with fiscal and other factors when establishing sentencing requirements. The legislation received unanimous approval.

Rodriguez lives in Elk Grove Village, Ill. She has two grown sons, Michael and Joseph.

Outstanding Alumni – John “Terry” Bergum ’72

When a family friend invited Bergum to visit the Bemidji State campus, he never imagined he would also be enrolling in classes and finding a place to live for the coming academic year that same day. Initially, Bergum thought he would complete his first two years at Bemidji State and finish his engineering degree at University of Minnesota. But he discovered he liked where he was and chose to complete his studies through BSU’s industrial technology program.

After graduating in 1972, he moved to Minneapolis and worked for National Polymer and Toro Company until spring of 1973. Bergum then moved back to Bemidji to pursue a teaching degree. However, during student teaching, he realized education was not a good fit. Instead, he worked in the electronic industry at General Diesel and Electronics in Hibbing for the next 17 years. In 1992, he worked as a sales engineer for Minnesota Milltech and move to Minnesota Twist Drill in 1994 – which  Bergum and several business partners purchased in September of 2003.

Now vice president of sales and marketing and owner of Minnesota Twist Drill, Bergum has been recognized for his business contributions to the northeast Minnesota economy. In 2008, the Northeast Minnesota Business Development center presented him with the Joel Labovitz Award for Emerging Entrepreneurs. In 2010, Governor Tim Pawlenty mentioned Minnesota Twist Drill in his State of the State speech as an example of job creation within Minnesota.

Terry and Gail, his wife of 33 years, live in Hibbing. They have two grown children, Christopher and Emilee, and two grandchildren, with one on the way.

2012 Young Alumni Award – Xihao Hu ’97

Xihao Hu came to Bemidji State from his home in Shanghai, China, to study accounting. What he found, in addition to strong accounting skills, is a place he calls his second home. Hu graduated summa cum laude in 1997, and his accounting acumen helped him earn the top score on the Certified Public Accounting exam in Minneapolis.

Hu interned at Deloitte & Touche LLP (Deloitte) in Minneapolis before he began working there full-time in audit and enterprise risk services in 1997. He moved to a position in the firm’s Chicago office in 2000, quickly working his way up within the company to become a partner in the financial accounting and reporting services department by 2007 – all by the young age of 33. During his time at Deloitte, Hu managed a large staff, mentored aspiring partners, authored several publications and spoke at international and domestic industry events. In Oct. 2010, Hu left Deloitte and was named to his current position of senior vice president and chief accountant for the Toronto-Dominion Bank.

In addition, in his role as the chair of the Chief Accountants’ Committee with the Canadian Bankers Association, he is actively involved in standards-setting for banks and financial institutions with the International Accounting Standards Board, the BASEL Accounting Task Force and the International Banking Federation.

A certified public accountant in Minnesota, Hu also is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Hu is also passionate about immigrant and visible minority causes. He is a board member of the Centre for Information & Community Services of Canada (CICS) and is the executive sponsor of Toronto-Dominion Bank’s Corporate Visible Minority Committee. He currently lives in Toronto.

2012 Alumni Service Award – Elaine J. Hazard ’70, ’73 MA English

Hazard earned her first bachelor’s degree from Cornell University/New York Hospital School of Nursing in 1953. From 1953 to 1955, she worked as a pediatrics RN at University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Hazard family moved to Bemidji in 1958, where she worked at North Country Hospital for 17 years. Hazard maintained her status as an RN and was a member of the American Nurses Association since the early 1950s.

Always an outstanding student, Hazard continued her education, enrolling at BSU where she graduated summa cum laude in 1970 with a bachelor of arts double major in biology and English. She went on to earn a master’s in English in 1973. She shared her knowledge and education as a lector at Bemidji State and as a member of numerous advisory committees and panels. She and her husband, Evan, generously supported the university, where she had been a student and he a professor of biology. They created the Elaine Hazard Scholarship in English for students with a writing concentration and the Hazard Scholarship in biology, and also initiated the Rhonda Severson Levinsky Scholarship in Biology. The Hazards also established the university’s Hazard Vertebrate Museum.

Her service to the Bemidji community took many different forms. She was president of the American Association of University Women, served on the advisory board for Planned Parenthood, served and managed holiday community meals, taught Sunday school at Bemidji United Methodist Church (UMC), became a Certified UMC Lay Speaker, held various local church offices and, for a time, coordinated the lay speaker training for UMC’s northwest Minnesota district. In addition, she was active in Bemidji United Methodist Women, was the church’s parish nurse and wrote a monthly health column in the church newsletter.

From 1959-1993, Hazard was often a mother figure for two dozen students who lived with her family for periods of a few weeks to more than three years.

Hazard had many interests, but theater was one of her passions. She acted BSU’s 1989 production “The Octet Bridge Club” as one of eight sisters. She also had roles in several Bemidji Community Theatre productions and she served as the organization’s president, house manager and much more. Her final stage appearance was as the ornery mother-in-law in “Moon Over Buffalo.”

Hazard died in December of 2010. She is survived by her husband Evan, their grown children – Brian Hazard, Stuart Hazard and Kathryn Larsen – and three grandchildren.

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