Wartburg College recently recognized three outstanding young alumni for service to their communities.

The Young Alumni Award honors graduates from the past 15 years who are living the four pillars of the Wartburg College mission statement: leadership, service, faith and learning.

This year’s recipients are: 

Jenna Manders, of Dubuque, graduated magna cum laude from Wartburg in 2015 with degrees in business administration and sociology. She held an internship at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque as a student and returned there for full-time employment after graduation. As the director of strategic relationships, Manders oversees grants awarded to area organizations that seek to improve the community. She also serves as a National Standards reviewer, ensuring the integrity of community foundations around the region. In her free time, Manders volunteers with YAPPERS, a philanthropy group focused on community impact, consisting of students from the three Dubuque high schools. She also is an active member of St. Catherine Catholic Church in Dubuque, where she produces the weekly bulletin and sings in the choir. 


Dr. Nnamdi Nelson, of Emeryville, Calif., graduated from Wartburg in 2012 with a degree in biology. He went on to receive his doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco, where he studies how the brain regulates cholesterol. Past areas of research include the causes of a novel form of blindness and the effects of drug and alcohol use on young adults, which won a prestigious grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. His work as science outreach leader for the Education Justice Project brought science classes to incarcerated teenagers at the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center.  


Scott Tjeerdsma is a 2007 Wartburg graduate who lives in Pella, Iowa. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in elementary education with mathematics and special education endorsements, he got his master’s degree form Viterbo University in 2015 while teaching full time in the Pella district. Tjeerdsma began his career teaching fourth grade before moving to seventh-grade math, and he now serves as the middle school’s athletic director and dean of students. He directed and founded the Pella Track Club for elementary and middle-school students, which has grown to approximately 100 youth. He also serves on the leadership team of the Leader in Me program and on the board for the Klompen Klassic, a fundraiser for a program that provides support services to community members in need.  


The three honorees were presented with their awards at a banquet on campus April 8. 






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