Wayne State College will hold commencement for graduate students at 9:30 a.m. in Rice Auditorium and undergraduates at 2 p.m. May 9 in the Willow Bowl. A total of 531 degrees – 198 graduate degrees and 333 undergraduate degrees – will be conferred by Wayne State President Richard J. Collings.
Graduate Invocation Speaker
Stephen Hakes will give the invocation for the master’s ceremony. Hakes was born in Baltimore, Md., but was raised in Auburn, Mich., a town of about 2,000. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1992 from Concordia College, in Ann Arbor, Mich.; his master’s of divinity in 1996 from Concordia Seminary, in St. Louis; and will be awarded his MBA on May 9 from Wayne State College. Hakes lives in Norfolk and serves as the director of music at Christ Lutheran Church. His hobbies include running, sailing, swimming, water-skiing, research-writing, woodworking, computer graphic design and working on cars. He is married to Lori Hakes, with whom he has three children, Daniel, Megan and Lauren.
Graduate Video | Lois Brunnert
Graduate Commencement Speaker
John Gathje, who is receiving his master of science in education, curriculum and instruction, will be the featured speaker at the master’s ceremony. Gathje is the son of Ronald and Helen Gathje of Rochester, Minn. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English in 1985 from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. Gathje works as an English instructor, cross country coach, track & field coach, and English department chairman at Mount Michael Benedictine High School in Elkhorn, Neb. He is completing his eighteenth year of teaching and coaching at Mount Michael this spring. He is married to Melissa Gathje, with whom he has two children, Jacob and Benjamin.
Graduate Video | Josh Rasmussen
Baccalaureate Invocation Speaker
Chance Buss will deliver the invocation for the baccalaureate ceremony. He is the son of John and Madonna Buss of Pierce, and brother of Patricia and Kristi Buss. He graduated from Pierce High School in 2005. Buss majored in communications, public relations and organizational leadership. He is a member of Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society, Blue Key Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. His career plans include public speaking for the Community Character Development Coalition (CCDC) based in Norfolk, Neb.
Alumni Achievement Award
Don and Carol Bremer are the recipients of this year’s Alumni Achievement Award. Don earned his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State in 1958, majoring in education and industrial arts. Carol graduated from Wayne State in 1954 with her two-year teaching credential. The Bremers have been exemplary educators, administrators and business owners, embodying the spirit that with a Wayne State degree, one can go anywhere and do anything.
Don Bremer was born in 1934 in Sioux City, Iowa. He moved to Laurel, Neb., and graduated a year later in 1952. He enrolled at Wayne State that fall in the pre-engineering program. Don was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1954 during the Korean War. After training, he married Carol Rankin, his college sweetheart. Don and Carol have been married 54 years. They have three sons and seven grandchildren.
Don returned to Wayne State College in 1956 where he continued his education with majors in education and industrial arts. After graduating in 1958, Don, Carol, and their new son, Doug, moved to Chino, Calif., where Don taught math and drafting while attending Cal Poly University in Pomona working on a major in mathematics. He earned his master of arts degree in secondary school administration from California State University-Los Angeles in 1962.
Don spent 26 years as a school administrator, the last 14 as principal of Chino Boys Republic High School. He is an Elk, a Mason and a Rotarian. He has served all offices in his Rotary Club and several at the district level. Don was named Rotarian of the Year in 2005 and received the “Excellence in Service Award” in 2009. Don and Carol are major donors to the Rotary Foundation.
Carol was born in Neligh, Neb., in 1935. She graduated from Wayne State with a two-year teaching credential in 1954. Her first teaching assignment was at a one-room country school in Antelope County. Her next assignment was teaching fifth and sixth grade in Norfolk, Neb. During Don’s last two years at Wayne State, Carol taught a seventh and eighth grade combination class in Laurel, Neb. Carol earned her bachelor of arts and master of arts in education from the University of California – Los Angeles. She taught junior high school English before serving as the junior high counselor in the Ontario-Montclair School District for about 13 years. She also served two years as assistant principal of Buena Vista High School in Ontario, Calif.
Don left his school administrative position in 1992 after 35 years in the field of education to give more time to their rapidly growing investment business. Carol and Don own and manage D & C Investment Properties, a partnership that runs their 345 apartment units, nine single-family homes and a medical complex that houses 18 doctors. One of the Bremers’ redevelopment projects now serves as a model for the redevelopment of blighted apartment areas.
Don and Carol have been exceptionally charitable to their community. They have also created an endowed scholarship fund at Wayne to provide two student scholarships each year. During the past three years Don and Carol have also served on the Wayne State Foundation Board and have hosted a Wayne State alumni reunion in their home.
Baccalaureate Guest Speaker
Lance Hedquist, city administrator for the City of South Sioux City since 1980, will deliver the commencement address at the baccalaureate ceremony. Hedquist is a lifelong resident of South Sioux City. He grew up in South Sioux City and returned after graduating from Wayne State College, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in 1972.
Hedquist has dedicated his life to public service and cares very much about the community, its citizens and employees. He works tirelessly to make South Sioux City a better place to live, enriching the quality of life for all and always planning for the future.
Hedquist is recognized as a leader and innovator in the tri-state area and across Nebraska for his skill leading one of the most progressive cities in the state. Under his leadership, the City of South Sioux City received the 2003 All America City Award, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards, and the 2003 Nebraska Showcase Community Award, the state of Nebraska’s most esteemed award.
The South Sioux City Council voted July 11, 2005, to give special recognition to Hedquist for his 25 years of dedicated service to the city by naming the Technology Speculative building, at 3309 & 3311 Daniels Lane, the “Lance Hedquist Technology Building.”
Hedquist serves as president of Nebraska Economic Developers Association; on the Board for Loess Hills Resource and Conservation District; Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council - Executive Committee Member; Nebraska Public Power District Resource Advisory - Committee Member; Nebraska Economic Developers Association - Member; Siouxland Economic Development Committee - Member; and Siouxland Regional Marketing Committee - Member. He has served as Past President on the following committees: Keep Northeast Nebraska Beautiful, Nebraska City Managers, Nebraska Development Network, Northeast Nebraska Development District, and Nebraska League of Municipalities - Utility Section and President of Nebraska Economic Developers Association.
Lance and his wife, Jean, have two grown sons, Nick and Chris. Nick lives in Washington, D.C.; and Chris, his wife, Misty, and their daughter, Ashley, and son, Ryan, live in South Sioux City.