Dakota Wesleyan University announced recently that Randi Christensen and Donna Gerlach as the winners of the Professional Excellence Awards for fall 2020, according to a release from the school.

Randi Christensen was the faculty winner of the Professional Excellence Award at Dakota Wesleyan University for 2020. (Submitted Photo)
Randi Christensen was the faculty winner of the Professional Excellence Award at Dakota Wesleyan University for 2020. (Submitted Photo)

Christensen, the faculty award winner, arrived at DWU in 2005 serving as a graduate assistant and was hired for full-time employment in 2007. She currently serves as assistant professor of athletic training and director of athletic training services at DWU. She also serves as co-adviser for the DWU Athletic Training Club. Christensen has taught in the CAATE accredited athletic training program and teachers and advises in the sport, exercise and wellness curriculum at DWU. She provides the athletic training coverage for DWU’s volleyball team and the women’s basketball team while mentoring the graduate assistant’s program. In 2019, Christensen was named the South Dakota Athletic Trainer of the Year by the South Dakota Athletic Trainers’ Association.

“It’s very humbling. It really is an honor to be recognized simply for doing your job. I love what I do,” Christensen said.

Donna Gerlach was the staff winner of the Professional Excellent Award at DWU for 2020. (Submitted Photo)
Donna Gerlach was the staff winner of the Professional Excellent Award at DWU for 2020. (Submitted Photo)

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Gerlach, the staff award winner, has served as the campus nurse at DWU for 21 years. Even 21 years of service to DWU could not have prepared Gerlach for the challenges that would come with the year 2020. With the arrival of the novel coronavirus in March, Gerlach, along with the rest of the registered nurses around the globe, had to learn the best way to navigate their altered work routines, and quite literally “roll with the punches.” Working on a campus of roughly 1,000 students during a global pandemic is a monumental challenge - a challenge that Gerlach embraced with bravery and fortitude.

“It truly was a team effort this semester from everyone involved with the DWU Response Team that allowed us to reach the end of the semester in a face-to-face format,” Gerlach said. “This past semester truly was the greatest challenge I have faced in my career at DWU, but with prayer, perseverance, creativity and late-night humor we made it through.”