Northwestern College recognizes two with inspirational service awards

Kyle Ochsner, professor of practice in kinesiology and director of athletic performance, and Dr. Jennifer Schon, director of institutional research, are the recipients of Northwestern College’s 2024 Inspirational Service Awards. Ochsner was chosen as the faculty recipient, while Schon received the staff award during the college’s Celebration Banquet on May 6.

The awards recognize employees who go beyond excellence in their performance, have demonstrated a selfless commitment to service, and whose dedication to Christ is apparent in their daily work and interactions. A selection committee chose the winners from among candidates nominated by employees.

Ochsner joined Northwestern’s staff in 2012 as the Raiders’ first full-time strength and conditioning coach. He develops and oversees the strength and conditioning programs for many athletic teams and teaches courses for the strength and conditioning career concentration.

“He is exactly the kind of employee who helps set Northwestern apart from other institutions,” says Dan Swier, head men’s soccer coach. “He melds the perfect blend of academic rigor, care for his students, and the charisma to create a fun and dynamic learning environment. His students love spending time with him.”

Ochsner has been working an overload this school year, as the other full-time athletic performance coach left just before the start of the school year and his graduate assistant left for a full-time position during Easter break. Despite that, “he continues to show up with extreme excellence and dedication and continues to create the best training environment possible,” says Cole Prescott, director of esports.

“‘Coach Ox’ infuses every session with boundless energy and enthusiasm,” says one of his student-athletes. “He consistently puts the needs of his athletes above his own, often sacrificing time with family and friends to ensure his athletes reach their goals.”

Ochsner, a Northwestern College graduate, earned a master’s degree in exercise and sports science from Texas Tech University. He annually hosts a performance clinic at Northwestern, bringing in speakers from all over the region and country. He also has served Northwestern as the faculty representative on the Student Government Association and has led summer study abroad trips to the Czech Republic.

Schon came to Northwestern in 2018 as associate director of institutional research. She was named director of institutional research in 2022. She also serves as an instructor in data science and statistics and as assistant project manager for a major campus database transition.

“She is one of the most thoughtful and hardworking co-workers I’ve had the pleasure to work with,” says Janette Reuter, comptroller. “She is organized, has great attention to detail, and collaborates well with both faculty and staff.

“Jen’s foresight and thoughtfulness helps our administrative offices function well together. Jen doesn’t just complete data requests for our offices, she consistently strives to improve the reporting processes we currently have in place to make everyone’s job easier. She always finds time to answer questions and brainstorm even when it interrupts her plans for the day. It’s no surprise Jen is asked to be on a variety of work groups and committees. She is respected by her peers!” says Reuter.

Registrar Austin Nyhof says Schon consistently works after hours and on weekends to ensure departments have the information they need. “Despite routinely being under stress, she is kind and compassionate to all. She has a servant’s attitude and does whatever she can to help others out,” he says.

Schon earned a doctoral degree in communication studies, with a focus on interpersonal and computer-mediated communication and a minor in quantitative psychology, at the University of Kansas. She also completed a master’s in communication studies at the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and business management at Buena Vista University.