Alumni Honorees 2023
All of our alumni are important but these honorees stand out in their leadership and contributions to the UNW community. Northwestern alumni honorees are recognized for making significant contributions to Northwestern and helping fulfill Northwestern's mission of giving God-honoring leadership in the home, church, community, and world.
Distinguished Alumni Award:
Jim '64 and Kathie (Schoff '65) Yost
Jim graduated from Northwestern College in 1964 with his degree in Pre-theology with a focus on Anthropology. Kathie (Schoff) received her music degree a year later. After marrying, they studied linguistics at the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) under the auspices of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Concurrently, Jim studied and taught anthropology and linguistics at the University of Colorado while Kathie instructed music in the Denver area schools.
When Jim finished his Ph.D., SIL assigned them to conduct an anthropological study of the Waorani tribe in Ecuador. They raised their three children among the tribe as they worked to gain legal rights for Waorani lands, attended to Waorani health issues, and helped them understand the implications of entering the wider world, all the while modeling a life in Christ – a process that resulted in the Yosts’ formulation of “The Mission of Presence”. Jim continued his studies and was published so widely that he was called “one of the two best current Amazonian anthropologists.” They lived among the Waorani for nine years and their study morphed into a fifty-year relationship of love and service with the tribe that continues today. Their daughter, Rachelle, has returned to practice the mission of presence among the Waorani friends she grew up with.
After leaving Ecuador, the Yosts expanded their ministry focus by buying and operating The Latigo ranch in the Colorado Rockies where they have now retired. The dude ranch was voted “USA Today's Best Family Vacation for the New Millennium.”
Buckles-Hanna Service Award:
For 19 years, Beth has been a disciple to disciples – specifically the 16–23-year-old women who she develops relationships with through the sport of volleyball. Beginning with recruitment, Beth does not compromise or shy away from the mission of Northwestern, the athletics department, or the volleyball program, attracting student-athletes that are the best fit for her team. Several years ago, Beth led her team in the development of five core covenants: Tenacity, Release, Authenticity, Integrity, and Love (all rooted in Scripture). Those covenants are evident in how Beth leads her program and its contributors, investing in the lives of these individuals so that they go on to make more disciples in their home, church, community, and world.
Beth is currently in her 20th season as the head coach of the University of Northwestern Volleyball team, making her the longest tenured and most decorated coach in program history. Coach Wilmeth has been named the UMAC Coach of the Year seven times, and in 2016, she was named the AVCA/NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year, recognizing her as the top Division III Volleyball coach in the country. Since her hiring in 2004, Northwestern has won 15 Conference Championships and 11 Tournament Championships. The Eagles have also made 2 NCAA Final Fours and 2 NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances.
Beth resides in Shoreview with her husband Eric and their three children Jeriah, Elias, and Jadyn.
Music & Theatre Hall of Recognition:
Benjamin attended Northwestern for Music Education with a specialization in Instrumental Music. His primary instrument was piano, studying under Dr. Richard Lange. Secondary studies were violin and conducting, studying primarily under Professor “Coach K” David Kozamchak. He was privileged to participate in four years of Orchestra, two years of Con Brio Men's Chorus, and one year in Northwestern Choir, and was part of the orchestra tour to Ireland and England in 2003 and the choir tour to Germany and Ukraine in 2006.
Upon graduation, he enrolled in the Master of Ethnomusicology program at Bethel University. In 2010 the Lord opened a door to Southwest China where he has continued to work, primarily as a music educator in local universities. Benjamin teaches local and Southeast Asian folk music, and writes and performs choral works fusing local folk songs with Western music elements. Throughout this time, God has allowed him to come alongside people from various walks of life to help them fulfill God’s call on their lives.
While in China, Benjamin met Tiffany Woon and the two married in 2018. They continue to live in China with their two boys, Brighton and Gregory, and love to visit Northwestern when they are back in Minnesota.
Athletic Hall of Fame:
Zach came to Northwestern considering a career in sports broadcasting, coaching, and teaching. However, as he sensed a call to ministry and was affirmed by others, he changed his major to Biblical Studies. Faculty members Dr. Helseth, Dr. Caneday, and Dr. Glenny deeply influenced his approach to Scripture.
Meanwhile on the football field, Zach was arguably the best quarterback in school history. He holds numerous career and season passing records, was First-Team All-Conference three times, and led his team to the 2008 NCCAA Victory Bowl Championship. During his time in school, he married his wife, Emily, and they had their first son during Zach’s senior year. Emily attended almost every football game and supported him throughout his academic journey.
After graduation, they moved to Florida, added three more children, and Zach received his Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary.
Since 2020, Zach has served as the Senior Pastor at Faith Reformed Church in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, where he considers it a distinct pleasure to preach, lead, and care for Christ's sheep. His greatest privilege and joy is being a husband and father. Reflecting on his time at Northwestern, he recognizes how God used the people and circumstances to prepare him for where he serves today.
Athletic Hall of Fame:
Lindsey came to Northwestern as a Kinesiology major with the intent to pursue Physical Therapy and attend graduate school. After graduation, she worked at a PT clinic as an Exercise Science Specialist but did not enjoy the environment and work as much as she expected to. Her career shifted and she began working at Medtronic as part of the Technical Development and Engagement team. Her team’s work caters to the technical community of engineers and scientists, helping in recognition, professional development, and driving community engagement.
While at Northwestern, Lindsey was one of the most dominant volleyball players in program history. Not only does she hold the career and season records for kills, but she was First-Team All-Conference four times, UMAC Player of the Year three times, and AVCA First Team All-American twice, among many other awards. She also led her teams to four NCAA DIII National Tournament appearances.
Lindsey stays connected with her beloved sport of volleyball as the Assistant Varsity Coach at Southwest Christian High School. For the past three years, she has loved every moment of coaching and mentoring young women. The community of believers at Southwest reminds her of the community at Northwestern, which makes her feel at home.
Lindsey currently lives in Chaska.
Athletic Hall of Fame:
Kari (Sternitzky) Canfield
Kari grew up on a dairy farm in central Wisconsin. Once she arrived at Northwestern, Kari studied Communications with an emphasis in Broadcasting and was on the cable news broadcast NWC Report, as well as the student radio station.
Kari also thrived as a basketball player. To this day, she holds the career and single season records for most total rebounds and offensive rebounds. She also holds the 3rd best career shooting percentage and was part of two NCCAA National Tournament teams, in 1994 and 1995.
After graduating, Kari earned her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Sports Studies and worked on the marketing team for the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Athletics. She currently leads a team of community engagement professionals at Thrivent representing the Twin Cities and surrounding area, Southern Minnesota, and Iowa.
Kari and her husband, Jon, live in Vadnais Heights with their three children — Henry (13), Elsie (10) and Rosie (6). Over the years, God led Kari and her husband to enter the foster care community – something that has become a very important part of their lives. In her free time, Kari enjoys watching her children participate in sports and coaching her daughter’s basketball team.
Athletic Hall of Fame:
Nicolle (Hebert) Osterhus
Nicolle felt led to attend Northwestern and pursue a major in Biblical Studies with a minor in Art. To this day, she finds a beautiful interaction when studying Scripture and painting. As a student, Nicolle loved being a part of the art program, volleyball team, and softball program. She considers it a gift to have been shepherded – not just taught – by professors and coaches.
Nicolle certainly left her mark on the softball program record book, as she is 1st in career home runs, 2nd in career triples, and 3rd in career runs batted in. She is also 2nd in career fielding percentage.
Nicolle now uses her God-given passion as an advocate for an organization called House of Faith and Freedom (HOFF) whose mission is to train churches and faith-based organizations on Christ-centered advocacy for domestic violence. She considers it an honor to be a part of a ministry that serves God by walking alongside victims during their heaviest times.
Nicolle is married to Scott and a mom to Isaac and Sylvie. They live on a small lake just outside the Twin Cities and enjoy outdoor recreation as a family and together with other families.
Athletic Hall of Fame:
Dave Hieb started his career at Northwestern in 1989 as the Head of Athletic Training Services, quickly adding the roles of faculty, equipment manager and assistant baseball coach. He was named head baseball coach in 1995. Now in his 35th year at Northwestern, He continues as an assistant certified athletic trainer and assistant professor of Kinesiology.
Starting in 1991, Dave was responsible for developing a Sports Medicine degree program that trained students to become Certified Athletic Trainers. Some of his students have eventually become Athletic Trainers in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NASCAR.
At the end of the 2023 season, Coach Hieb retired as the Head Baseball Coach at UNW. A multiple Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) and NCCAA Regional coach of the year, he led the Eagle baseball program to a conference championship and led numerous all-regional and All-American players. He is first in school history for career coaching wins, most games coached, and most seasons coached in the baseball program.
He currently resides in Woodbury with his wife Layne, and has two grown children, Anthony and Alexa.
Jeff studied Management Information Systems during his time at Northwestern. After graduation he went on to join the Advisory Practice at KPMG LLP, and was admitted as a Partner on October 1st, 2023. In his role at KPMG, Jeff provides Technology Risk & Compliance, Process Mining and Analytics, and Information Security services to clients across a variety of industries.
While at Northwestern, Jeff made an impact on the basketball court as part of two conference regular season championship teams. Jeff became the 13th man in program history to join the 1,000 point club, 5th to join the 500 rebound club, and still holds the record for career free throws attempted and most free throws made in a single season.
Jeff is a Director on the board of Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts, which serves over 40,000 kids in the Twin Cities and surrounding counties each year. He also serves as Vice Chair of the board of the Heritage Christian Academy Foundation.
Jeff met his wife, Whitney (Herman ‘06), at Northwestern. They live in Maple Grove and have three children: Hallie, Lanie, and Asher.
Northwestern alumni honorees are recognized for making significant contributions to Northwestern and helping fulfill Northwestern's mission of giving God-honoring leadership in the home, church, community, and world. View award descriptions and nomination criteria.
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