Alumni Honorees 2022
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:
Dr. Heather Walker Peterson ’95
Dr. Heather Walker Peterson is Senior Editor at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, a nonprofit that exists to help Christians understand their place in God’s story and serve Him with clarity, confidence, and courage. She edits and contributes to the writing of Breakpoint, a daily commentary heard on over 950 radio stations and affiliate outlets, with tens of thousands more via email and podcast. Previously Walker Peterson served as Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English & Literature at University of Northwestern-St. Paul.
When nominated, Walker Peterson was praised for her compassionate presence with students and her, “rigorous intellect [that] affords her opportunities to reach a broad range of people for the Kingdom. Saying further that she, “has consistently and faithfully demonstrated a hunger to both know Christ more deeply and image Him more broadly.”
Heather’s all-time favorite role is being wife to Tim and mother to Ruthie and Addie, two remarkably different middle-school daughters.
Buckles-Hanna Service Award:
Dr. Bruce Simat
Dr. Bruce Simat was commissioned by Northwestern in 1994 to initiate and develop a Biology degree program. After establishing 14 separate biology courses, and teaching each one at some point in his career, he moved on to introducing a feasibility study for Northwestern’s nursing program in 2011. Dr. Simat was significantly responsible for the work that went into the program before its accreditation in 2015 and continued his involvement in the program by being on the Advisory Board for ten years, the Student Admission and Progression Committee, the Director Search Committee (twice), and Advisor to the Eagles Honors Scholarship Program.
Dr. Simat established and grew Northwestern’s premedical program, leading to the highest level of medical school acceptance in the Twin Cities, initiated TriBeta Biological Honor Society, and began the student organization Health Care Professionals of Tomorrow.
Beyond his academic contributions, Dr. Simat has impacted the lives of many students through co-research projects to prepare them for internships and careers in research.
In addition to teaching with excellence and supporting students, Bruce has been active in Christian apologetics in the community, providing lectures to churches and Christian organizations.
Dr. Simat recently celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary and loves spending time with his three children and nine grandchildren.
Music & Theatre Hall of Recognition:
Hannah (Nelson) Lu ’03
Hannah Celeste Lu’s “pliable, floating, voice,” as proclaimed by Opera News Magazine, has allowed her to enjoy a variety of singing engagements as a versatile coloratura soprano. She is a Metropolitan Opera Audition District Winner, a finalist in the Palm Beach Atlantic Vocal Competition, a two-time second place winner in the Schubert Club Competition, and others. She has performed many leading opera roles, but feels most at home singing Baroque music, church music, and concert works - everything from Bach and Handel to Mahler and Gorecki.
She solos frequently with the baroque ensemble Mercury Houston, The Houston Chamber Choir, The Aspen Music Festival, The Masterworks Festival, Houston’s Masterworks Chorus, da Camera of Houston, and Cantare Houston and the Houston Choral Society. Ms. Lu was the soprano in Houston Grand Opera’s educational outreach program, “Opera to Go,” for four seasons where she performed over 16 soprano roles, was a member of the HGO Chorus for nine seasons, and a member of the Grammy award-winning Houston Chamber Choir for four seasons.
Hannah received her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance in 2003 coached and guided by Carol Eikum (voice), Doreen Hutchings (opera), and Timothy Sawyer (choral). She moved to Houston, Texas to pursue and earn a master of music degree in Vocal Performance from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University where she studied voice with Stephen King and opera with Richard Bado. In addition to performing, she teaches Pre-K-12th grade music at Second Baptist School University Model, part-time homeschools her own children, and teaches first grade choir at Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, Texas where she lives with her husband, Michael, and their two children, Isaac (10) and Lydia (6).
Athletic Hall of Fame:
DelRoy Johnson – Softball Coach/Professor
Pastor DelRoy Johnson became the third head coach in program history prior to the spring of 1982 and brought a strong sense of stability to a program that was still in its early stages. He would sit in the coach’s spot in the dugout for a phenomenal 16 seasons until his coaching duties wrapped up after the 1997 season.
Coach Johnson owns the distinction of being the first coach in Eagles history to bring in a conference championship as his squads claimed league titles in 1992 and 1995. The 1987 team won 24 games, which was the single-season program record at the time, and was the first team in program history to compete on the national stage when they participated in the NCCAA National Tournament.
A monumental figure in the course of Northwestern Athletics, DelRoy led the softball team in 447 straight games from 1982 to 1997. He became the first Eagle softball coach to reach 100 career wins. At the time of his retirement, Johnson’s 226 career wins were the most in program history.
DelRoy was a favorite professor, coach, friend, and mentor. He was half of the science department when hired in 1977 at Northwestern; teaching as a professor of biology, anatomy, and earth science.
Pastor Johnson had the privilege of counseling and officiating the weddings of many of his students.
In November of 2021, Coach Johnson passed away. The Eagles softball team and alumni honored him in a pregame ceremony on April 23, 2022, in which he was commemorated with a plaque in the Reynolds Field softball home dugout.
Athletic Hall of Fame:
Dan Westin ’01 – Mens Basketball
The Northwestern College men’s basketball team saw a coaching change in the early 2000s, but one thing that did not change was Dan Westin’s presence and production on the court. Westin played under two very successful coaches in his time at Northwestern and each coach speak very highly of his leadership abilities. Coach Tim Grosz and Coach Joe Smith describe Dan Westin as a “spiritual leader, hard worker, family man, well spoken, ministry minded, and a thoughtful person.”
In addition to his leadership abilities, Dan Westin is simply one of the best and well-rounded basketball players in school history. Westin is one of three players in program history to have scored 2,000 career points. Westin also grabbed 900 rebounds in his illustrious career which is the second best mark in school history.
You cannot read through the Northwestern Men’s Basketball record books without seeing Dan Westin’s name. Westin has the fourth highest single game point total with 40 and is ranked eighth in single game made three pointers with seven.
Westin also is ranked in the top 10 in program history in over 10 categories, including single season scoring average at 19.2 points per game.
Westin is currently the CEO of QA at Weath Management.
Athletic Hall of Fame:
Krista (Stoltz ’14) Bellefeuille – Volleyball
Krista (Stoltz) Bellefeuille was a setter for Krista (Stoltz ’14) Bellefeuille (Volleyball)the Northwestern volleyball team from 2010 through 2013. A two-time team captain, Bellefeuille helped lead UNW to three UMAC Regular Season Championships (2011, 2012, 2013) and three UMAC Tournament Championships (2010, 2012, 2013).
The setter helped the Eagles advance to not only their first NCAA National Tournament appearance in her freshman year, but ultimately four consecutive tournament appearances. Her class was the first to accomplish that feat in Northwestern history.
In 2012, Krista became one of four Eagles at that point in program history to earn AVCA NCAA Division III All-American honors.
In 2013, Bellefeuille played through her senior season with a tumor, persevering through the pain to help her team. Her courage was rewarded as the Eagles won both conference regular season and tournament titles. She earned UMAC Player of the Year and Northwestern Eagle Award honors that year. At the conclusion of her senior year, Krista was Northwestern’s nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year. Out of over 220,000 female NCAA athletes, she was named one of nine finalists for the award.
Krista has a full-time job as the proud mother of five children, ages one week to six years old.
Athletic Hall of Fame:
Robb Nachtigal ’01 – Football
Robb Nachtigal was a running back for the Northwestern football team from 1990 through 1993. As a freshman, Robb set the program record for longest punt return with an 88-yard return against Martin Luther. As a junior in 1992, Nachtigal ran for 1,307 yards in the season, breaking the previous single-season program rushing record. That same year, Robb powered his way to 12 rushing touchdowns which tied him with three other Eagles for the program’s single-season record. As a senior in 1993, Nachtigal broke his own single-season rushing record with a 1,309-yard season.
In his senior year, Nachtigal set the top two Northwestern records for rushing yards in a single game, running for 285 yards against Martin Luther and then 362 yards in the season finale against Sioux Falls. In addition to his record-setting senior season, Nachtigal punted for an average of 37.9 per punt, second-best at the time and sixth-best today. At the end of his career, Nachtigal had rushed for 3,264 yards on 587 attempts. His career rushing yards still stands in the top three in program history.
The last 10 years, Robb has worked in public education as the Technology Director for the Aurora Public School District. Robb and his wife, Karol, raised four kids who are now spread out across the country to Philadelphia, Dallas, Omaha and Phoenix.
Athletic Hall of Fame:
Rachel Larsen Dameron ’01 – Soccer
Rachel (Larsen) Dameron was a defender for Northwestern from 1997 through 2000. Dameron’s career as an Eagle began in just the program’s second year. She was a catalyst of the team’s rapid development into a championship caliber program.
In the third year of the program, a sophomore Dameron helped lead the Eagles to a 14-5-1 record and the first of three consecutive UMAC Regular Season Championships (1998, 1999, 2000) and UMAC Tournament Championships (1998, 1999, 2000).
In her four-year career, Dameron didn’t miss a single game. The defender set the early program benchmark of 78 consecutive games played in her career. Only nine players in program history have surpassed her career games played record.
Rachel notched eight assists for the Eagles during her junior year, which is tied for the seventh-most in a season in program history. Her senior year, Dameron was named an NAIA All-American Honorable Mention; the first All-American honor in program history.
Dameron currently works as a language arts teacher at Bell Shoals Baptist Academy in Brandon, Florida.
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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