UNK Today | August 2014 - page 33

Doug Kristensen
Chancellor
Kristensen arrived at the Uni-
versity of Nebraska at Kear-
ney in 2002 after serving in
the Nebraska Legislature, in-
cluding a stint as Speaker of
the Legislature. Since his ar-
rival, Kristensen has overseen
the construction of two new
residence halls — Antelope
Hall and Nester Hall — and
the renovation of five others;
the construction of the new
$6.5 million Wellness Center;
and current projects such as
the new Health Science fa-
cility and University Village.
Kristensen has also seen the
school move from the Rocky
Mountain Athletic Confer-
ence to the Mid-America
Intercollegiate Athletic Asso-
ciation. Kristensen received
his undergraduate degree in
economics and political sci-
ence from the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln and earned
a law degree from Iowa’s
Drake University.
Charles Bicak
Senior Vice Chancellor of
Academic and Student Affairs
A second-generation UNK
faculty member, Bicak’s
time with UNK stretches
back to 1992 when he began
teaching in the biology
department. Bicak served
as assistant to the dean of
the College of Natural and
Social sciences from 1993
to 1995 and then as chair
of UNK’s biology depart-
ment from 1997 to 2004. In
2005, Bicak left UNK to
become the dean of natural
sciences at St. Edward’s
University in Austin, Texas.
In 2009, Bicak returned to
UNK to accept the position
of senior vice chancellor
of academic and student
affairs. Bicak received his
undergraduate degree in
biology from UNK; a mas-
ter’s degree in plant science
from the University of
British Columbia; and his
doctorate degree in range
science from Colorado
State University.
Barbara Johnson
Vice Chancellor for
Business and Finance
Before arriving at UNK
in 2007, Johnson worked for
universities both large and small
— from internationally known
schools such as Florida State
and Ohio State to Mars Hill
University and Carleton College.
Before beginning her career in
education, Johnson worked for a
number of insurance companies,
includingAllstate and Pruden-
tial. Johnson also has worked as
a consultant helping universities
with disaster preparedness and
recovery, finance management
and operational direction. She
received her bachelor’s degree
in business education from
Hampton University inVirgin-
ia and a master’s degree with
an accounting emphasis from
Atlanta University.
Tim Burkink
Dean of Business and Technology
A faculty member since
2001, Burkink taught mar-
keting before accepting his
current position of dean of
business and technology in
2009. Burkink is a graduate
of the University of Nebras-
ka-Lincoln where he obtained
his undergraduate, master’s
and doctorate degrees. Before
coming to UNK, Burkink
taught at Arizona State Uni-
versity and Chadron State
College. Burkink has received
awards from UNK’s College
of Business and Technology in
mentoring, teaching, scholar-
ship and service.
John La Duke
Dean of Natural
and Social Sciences
La Duke came to UNK from
the University of North Dakota
in 2010 to accept his current
position. La Duke began his
career at UND as a professor,
moved up to chair of the biology
department — a position which
he had for six years — and spent
one year as chair of UND’s
art department. La Duke also
served as an associate dean in
UND’s College of Arts and
Sciences before coming to
UNK. La Duke attended Texas
Tech where he received his
undergraduate degree in zoology
and his master’s in botany. La
Duke completed his doctorate in
botany at Ohio State University.
William Jurma
Dean of Fine Arts and Humanities
In 1998 Jurma began his
UNK career as a professor in
the department of communi-
cation; in 2005 Jurma moved
into the role of dean of fine
arts and humanities. Before
arriving at UNK, Jurma taught
at Texas Christian University
where he served as chair of
the communication depart-
ment and associate dean of
the College of Fine Arts and
Communication. Previously,
Jurma taught at the Univer-
sity of Michigan, Depauw
University and the University
of Indiana. Jurma earned his
undergraduate degree from
Oberlin College and received
his master’s and doctorate
degrees from IU.
By UNK COMMUNICATIONS
KEARNEY — Lorissa
Roepke spent her freshman
year at the University of
Nebraska at Kearney consumed
by her heart.
It was during her first semes-
ter at UNK that the elementary
education major experienced
shortness of breath, lighthead-
edness and a rapid heart rate
as she walked across campus
to her job at the UNK Child
Development Center.
“I knew myself well enough
to know something was
wrong,” she said.
The 19-year old from
Kearney had always been
active. She participated in
cheerleading and dance during
high school. She developed an
interest in running and ran in
three Warrior Dash races, the
Midsummer Night’s Trail Run
in Hastings and numerous 5Ks.
Roepke went to the UNK
Student Health Care clinic
to find out what was wrong.
A nurse practitioner referred
Roepke to a cardiologist.
“The nurse practitioner knew
that Lorissa was a cheerleader
in high school and that she
was in dance, and that she was
running 5Ks. She knew she was
active, so when Lorissa came
in and said, ‘This is what’s
happening. This isn’t right,’
she took
it very
serious-
ly,” said
Roepke’s
mom,
Lana
Horn.
In
Novem-
ber 2013,
just a few
months
after her
visit to
student health, she was diag-
nosed with hypertrophic car-
diomyopathy at the Children’s
Hospital and Medical Center in
Omaha.
Hypertrophic cardiomyop-
athy is a disease in which the
heart muscle becomes abnor-
mally thick, according to the
American Heart Association.
This makes pumping blood
much harder for the heart.
The disease affects about
one out of 500 people, affects
men and women equally, and
can affect people of any age.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
is usually inherited. It’s caused
by a mutation in genes in heart
muscle proteins.
Roepke initially took
medication to help relieve her
symptoms and began seeking
support on campus.
Disability Services for Stu-
dents helped Roepke tell her
professors about her diagnosis
and what they should do in case
of an emergency.
“It was kind of cool because
I’m a shy person, and I
wouldn’t normally go up to
professors,” she said. “But now
I have a reason why I have to
talk to them. I like that I know
them one on one.”
After completing her first
semester at UNK, Roepke’s ill-
ness forced her to take a break
from classes during the spring
semester.
In Feb-
ruary, she
went back
to the
hospital
for a heart
catheter-
ization, a
procedure
that exam-
ines how
well the
heart is
working.
During
her visit, Roepke’s doctors
discovered that she had heart
failure. She was hospitalized
and received a pacemaker. A
pacemaker is a small device that
is placed under the skin of the
chest or abdomen to help control
heart arrhythmias. The device
sends electrical pulses to prompt
the heart to beat normally.
Just a month later, Roepke
was added to the heart trans-
plant list.
There are three classifications
on the transplant list — 1A, 1B
and 2. Roepke is listed as 1B,
which means she is the sec-
ond-highest priority on the list.
“I never imagined any of this
happening,” Roepke said.
Now, less than a year after
her first symptoms, Roepke and
her family finally know why
she is experiencing heart failure
at such a young age.
Roepke’s doctors discov-
ered that she has familial
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,
which means her heart disease
was inherited. Her mom and
dad, Larry Roepke, recently
had genetic testing to find out
who the carrier of the altered
gene was. They discovered
that the carrier was Horn. She
must now get an echocardio-
gram so doctors can find out
if her heart muscle also is
thick.
Roepke’s brother, Logan, 24,
will receive genetic testing, and
some relatives may also have
the testing.
Despite spending most days
fatigued with headaches and
stomachaches and anxiously
waiting to hear that a heart
is waiting for her, Roepke
chooses to see the positives.
“It’s more of a growing expe-
rience for me and for the people
around me. It’s a lot to take in,
but I know I can handle it. I try to
be level-headed and just remem-
ber that it’s just a moment in my
life to grow,” she said.
“Even when you feel like
you’re drowning in it all,
there’s always going to be
something there that you can
hold on to, like dreams and
goals for the future.”
Her goals include becoming
an elementary schoolteach-
er. Her love of children was
inspired by her mom, who
works as the early childhood
coordinator at Head Start.
“It’s been difficult, but Loris-
sa has just been so positive and
has such a good outlook on
everything. That’s given me the
strength to get through it, too,”
Horn said.
Roepke has enrolled in
online classes for the fall
semester.
Family friends organized a
T-shirt fundraiser to help Roep-
ke’s family with increasing
medical bills.
“It’s a fundraiser to help
us with our medical bills, but
it’s more that I want people to
know my story and know that
young people can have heart
disease, too,” Roepke said.
If you are considering a rewarding career in accounting
or finance you should choose to be one of our students.
In so doing, you will enjoy the benefits of:
• an excellent, comprehensive education that
prepares you for a professional career;
• a friendly department, campus, and community
that appreciates you as a UNK student.
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Lorissa
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Today
:
Personalities
Courtesy, UNK Communications
LORISSA ROEPKE
was diagnosed with heart disease during
her freshman year at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The
19-year-old from Kearney is waiting for a heart transplant. “It’s a
lot to take in, but I know I can handle it. I try to be level-headed
and just remember that it’s just a moment in my life to grow,” she
said.
Meet UNK’s
administrators
“It’s more of a
growing experience
for me and for the people around
me. It’s a lot to take in, but I
know I can handle it. I try to be
level-headed and just remember
that it’s just a moment in my life
to grow.”
Lorissa Roepke
Roepke hasn’t
let heart disease
hinder her
teaching dreams
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