Entrepreneur David G. Ekman will address the University of Minnesota Crookston Class of 
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2015 during commencement exercises on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Graduates will take part in the ceremony, which begins at 2 p.m. in Lysaker Gymnasium. All are welcome to attend. 

Ekman (in photo, right), a 1981 graduate of the U of M Crookston, grew up in Argyle, Minn., and has more than 30 years of business experience. During his time at the U of M Crookston, he played college basketball, served as student senate president, and earned his associates degree in agricultural business management. While attending North Dakota State University and majoring in agricultural economics, Ekman started in the computer business by purchasing a ComputerLand franchise at the age of 20. This began a series of business ventures including a technology company, an internet service provider, a travel agency, hotel development and investment, a self-storage business, and various real estate projects. 

He recently retired as the CIO of Multiband Corporation, a NASDAQ-listed field services company with more than 3,000 employees which he helped start.  He serves on various boards and committees, including the Campus Advisory and Advancement Board for the Crookston campus, and stays active in his many business dealings. Ekman and his wife, Paula, reside in Fargo, N.D., with their three teenage children. 

A reception in the Northern Lights Lounge, Sargeant Student Center, precedes the commencement ceremony from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is welcome to attend both events; no tickets are required. Additionally, a special reception for online graduates will be held at 10 a.m. in the Prairie Room, Sargent Student Center, and a reception for international student graduates will be held following commencement exercises at 4 p.m. in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., the formal procession of faculty, candidates for degrees, and platform guests will begin from the Sargeant Student Center to the gymnasium led by Mace Bearer William Peterson, professor in the Math, Science, and Technology Department. The procession also includes Faculty Marshal W. Daniel Svedarsky, professor and director of the Center for Sustainability on the Crookston campus.

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Bringing greetings from the University of Minnesota Board of Regents is the Honorable Peggy Lucas (in photo, left), from Minneapolis, Minn., who will also assist with the conferring of the degrees. 
University of Minnesota, Crookston Alumni Association (UMCAA) Board President Lauralee (Nicholas) Tupa '05 will bring greetings from the UMCAA and welcome the new graduates to the alumni association. The U of M Crookston Community Band under the direction of TJ Chapman, lecturer in the Math, Science, and Technology Department, will perform along with selections during the ceremony by the campus choir under the direction of Associate Professor George French. 

Graduating senior Justin Goodroad (in photo, right, below), a horticulture major from Lindstrom, Minn., Crookston Student Association (CSA) president, will speak on behalf of the Class of 2015 and pass the torch of education, a Crookston campus tradition, to the incoming CSA president 
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Tareyn Stomberg, a junior double majoring in animal science and agricultural business from Menahga, Minn. 
The 2015 commencement exercises mark the 107th graduating class to be recognized on the Crookston campus. A live audio stream of the commencement exercises will be available at www.umcrookston.edu/people/services/mediaservices.  

For more information, visit the commencement website at www.umcrookston.edu/commencement.

The University of Minnesota Crookston now delivers 31 bachelor's degree programs, 22 minors, and 36 concentrations on campus as well as 14 degree programs entirely online.  These degrees are offered in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from more than 20 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit www.umcrookston.edu.

Contact: Elizabeth Tollefson, University Relations, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)

A dinner theater will take place on Wednesday, April 29 and Friday, May 1, 2015, at the University of Minnesota Crookston. The comedy "The Complete Works of Shakespeare: Abridged" will be performed in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center. Dinner will be served beginning at 6:15 p.m. followed by the performance at 7 p.m. each evening. Reservations are required and available for $15 for an Italian buffet and the show by contacting George French at 218-281-8266 (gfrench@umn.edu). If you would prefer to attend the theater performance only, the cost is $5 for adults and no reservations are required to attend the play only.  

The play, written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, parodies the plays of William Shakespeare in approximately 90 minutes. The three-person cast features the comedic and improvisational talents of U of M Crookston students: Michael Laurich, a senior majoring in biology from Lansing, Ill.; Alex Conwell, a post-secondary enrollment options student from Red Lake Falls, Minn.; and Ryan Rynda, a junior majoring in software engineering from Argyle, Minn. 

The dinner and performance are coordinated by Associate Professor George French. Directed 
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by the three actors, the play also includes pop culture references, spontaneous conversation, and local references making each show a unique experience. 

The University of Minnesota Crookston now delivers 31 bachelor's degree programs, 22 minors, and 36 concentrations on campus as well as 14 degree programs entirely online.  These degrees are offered in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from more than 20 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit www.umcrookston.edu.

In the photo, left to right, are Alex Conwell, Michael Laurich, and Ryan Rynda. 

Contact: Elizabeth Tollefson, University Relations, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)

It is hard to catch University of Minnesota Crookston sophomore Joe Wodarek wasting a 
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moment of time. The double major in agronomy and agricultural business from Six Lakes, Mich., works in the library and in dining services on campus during the academic year. And, this summer he will be scouting fields for the Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC), and when time allows, he will be on the road or in the pool preparing for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee, Wis., in August. 

Wodarek has been competing in triathlons since 2012 and qualified for the age group nationals last summer at the Buzz Ryan Sprint Tri in Duluth, Minn. The soon-to-be 20 year old makes the most of his training opportunities. "When I have an hour of free time, I use it to run or bike," Wodarek says. "I have to seize every chance I can to train."

When he heads to Milwaukee this summer, he will be competing in the longer Olympic distances rather than the sprint triathlon distances he is accustomed to. The 1500m swim, 40k bike, and 10k run, are new race distances for Wodarek as are his new road bike, wetsuit, and other training gear. "I have never had the equipment or the wetsuit before when I trained or competed," he says.  "I am excited to see how they will affect my performance and how they will change the competition for me."

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He has been a runner since fourth or fifth grade when he wanted to building endurance for basketball. The basketball thing didn't work out for him, but the running never left. His life in the water began when he was only 6 months old. Later as a 16-year-old lifeguard, Wodarek watched several of his friends training for a triathlon, and he decided since he loved to swim, run, and bike, he would give it a try. "A triathlon simply combined all the things I was doing for fun anyway," he says.

In order to qualify, Wodarek had to place in the top three in his age group at a race sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the sport's governing body. Qualifying came as a little bit of a surprise for him because he was unaware of how he was doing in relationship to the other competitors in his age group, and he was not using equipment or gear designed to compete in the triathlon. His goal was to go out and give it the best he had. 

Of the three stages in the competition, Wodarek says running is his strength, and if he has a 
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weakness, it is probably the swim. "I don't have access to swimming regularly in open water, and it makes it difficult to be as strong as I would like to be in the swim," he says. 
As the summer progresses, he will spend time refining his transitions between the three legs of the competition noting how critical those transitions can be in the overall outcome. "Transitions can put you ahead or drag you down," he says. "They are an important part of the triathlon."

Wodarek came to the U of M Crookston because he wanted an agronomy degree. "I liked what the agronomy major at Crookston offered, and when I thought about what I wanted to do long term, it really fit my goals," he says. "When I came to campus for a visit, I happened to get the chance to talk to agronomy instructor Rob Proulx, and if I wasn't sold on going to school here before that conversation with Rob, I definitely was afterward."

This summer Wodarek will gain valuable agronomic experience working for the NWROC.  All the while, he will be training for the biggest athletic competition of his career thus far. As one might expect, he won't be satisfied with crossing the finish line in August because this competition isn't the end, it's a beginning. 

For Wodarek, the triathlon in Milwaukee is one stepping stone to bigger competitions and more challenging goals in the future. 

In the photos:
Top, right: Wodarek running in the Buzz Ryan Triathlon in 2014.

Middle, left photo: Wodarek transitioning between legs at the Buzz Ryan Triathlon where he made qualifying time for the age group nationals.

Bottom, right photo: Wodarek comes in with the bike at the Tri Greenville in Greenville, Mich., in 2013.

Contact: Elizabeth Tollefson, University Relations, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)

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