Alumni Award Winners Honored

Saturday 19, 2015

The Northern Michigan University Alumni Association honored three award winners at a celebration brunch over Homecoming weekend. Lisa Kelley of Buffalo, N.Y., and Jon Kukuk of Marinette, Wis., received Alumni Achievement Awards. Michael Oswald of Rowlett, Texas, was recognized as NMU’s Outstanding Young Alumni.

Kelley is an undersea specialist and expedition leader at Lindblad Expeditions and second in command of the MS National Geographic Explorer. She creates and executes expeditions while managing 160 guests and a team of up to 16 staff members. Kelley has led expeditions in nearly 60 countries and on all seven continents. She films underwater environments around the world and produces video presentations for Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic. En route to Marquette, Kelley’s flight was delayed by fog in Newfoundland and she was unable to attend the brunch.

Kelley has helped to oversee operations of a station for the U.S. Antarctic Program. She was the first person to achieve scuba diving credentials in Antarctica and wrote The Antarctic Dive Guide. She was the captain of the NMU women’s soccer team and graduated with honors and a health education degree in 1999.

Kukuk is the owner/president of Nestegg Marine, which was named National Marina of the Year in 2011. He was one of the first in the nation to achieve the marine industry’s five-star dealer certification and the first Wisconsin Certified Clean Marina. Kukuk is the national education chair for the Marine Growth Initiative.

Kukuk has been active in the Marinette Chamber of Commerce for more than 19 years, including service as a board member and past president. He was honored as Marinette’s Person of the Year in 2005 and received the NMU Alumni Service Award in 1995. He earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from NMU in 1976.

Oswald is the executive vice president at Hill & Wilkinson General Contractors, a $450 million, full-service construction firm. He is responsible for the overall operation and leadership of projects encompassed by the aviation, commercial, food and beverage, manufacturing and special projects markets. He also oversees operations of the firm’s central Texas office remotely from the headquarters in Richardson.

Oswald has served on the NMU Advisory Council for the last two years. He is involved with attracting talent, adjusting curriculum and styles to conform to industry trends, and providing leadership as a mentor in the industry. Oswald is responsible for hiring and retaining at least 12 NMU construction management students over the years. He attended NMU on a football scholarship, earning team MVP and two-time Academic All American honors. He graduated summa cum laude in 2003. Oswald is involved in the Real Estate Council of Dallas-Fort Worth and participates in related community programs such as ACE Mentorship, Habitat for Humanity and Hearts and Hammers.


Molly Egelkraut
Student Writer

Kukuk, NMU President Fritz Erickson and Oswald after the brunch