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BSC honors 2016 Alumni of the Year

Published: Apr 14 2016
BSC honors 2016 Alumni of the Year - Photo
Bismarck State College honors several alumni during its annual recognition event May 12 on campus.
The BSC National Alumni Association Board of Directors has chosen Mike LaLonde as Alumnus of the Year, and Shane Balkowitsch as BSC’s Rising Star. The association also presents its first Legacy Family award to the Myron Atkinson family.
All recipients will be honored at a campus dinner for friends, colleagues, family and the public May 12 at 6 p.m. in the Bavendick Stateroom, BSC National Energy Center of Excellence, and during commencement May 13 at the Bismarck Event Center.
LaLonde, ’62, was selected for his dedication to BSC students and involvement with the alumni association and other clubs and organizations.
Balkowitsch, ‘98, received his award for entrepreneurial achievements, and dedication to sharing his photography talents with BSC students and the Bismarck community. The award acknowledges young alumni of exceptional achievement.
The Atkinsons were chosen in recognition of the family’s attendance at Bismarck Junior College, demonstrated achievement in careers and public service, and continued role as ambassadors for BSC.
Myron Atkinson, ’47, and two of his seven children are graduates of BSC. His sister Caroline and children Kathleen and Patrick attended the college. Patrick and Myron support current BSC students with named scholarships. Myron was named with two others as BSC’s first outstanding alumni and later received the Distinguished Service Citation. A trustee of the BSC Foundation since 1979 and now emeritus, he held all board offices. Son Tim Atkinson joined the board in 1997 and chairs the Finance Committee. All the Atkinson children, including Tom, Elizabeth, John and Paul, are active in community service. Several have high-profile careers.
Mike LaLonde grew up in Mandan and Bismarck and had early interests in photography and journalism, which shaped much of his life. He began his career in education, teaching seven years in Bismarck. Recruited to work for the chamber of commerce, LaLonde then did career development for the state Board for Career and Technical Education. For 27 years, he was employed by Basin Electric Power Cooperative in a teaching role as corporate training and development coordinator, retiring in 2004.
LaLonde added a master’s degree in education and returned to BSC in 1975 to teach a night class. For 30 years, he taught news photography to journalism students in the Technical Center. He continued with BSC in Career Services after Basin retirement and as an adjunct instructor until 2011.
LaLonde is a leader in many civic, non-profit, fraternal and wildlife organizations, a published photographer, and recipient of several photography awards. For BSC, he was alumni association president, BSC Foundation trustee and president, and an Energy Generation Conference Advisory Committee member for 22 years. He continues to volunteer teaching photography to BSC art students and local artist coops and galleries, which have exhibited his work.
Balkowitsch grew up in Bismarck and is finding unexpected fame as an ambrotypist. He is the only person in North Dakota doing wet plate collodian photography, a process invented about 1850. Self-taught, Balkowitsch made his first plate in October 2012 and now has more than 1,700 images captured on glass (ambrotype).
His growing recognition has resulted in a commission of Native American images curated and archived by the State Historical Society of North Dakota. This spring, BSC’s Gannon Gallery displayed his one-man show, “Souls of Silver,” an exhibit that traveled to galleries across the state. Generous with his time and resources, Balkowitsch demonstrates his skill for student groups and organizations, sharing his passion while educating his audience. He has impressed many BSC classes of visual and graphic art students at his studio in south Bismarck.
Dinner reservations will be accepted until May 6. Tickets are $25 per person. Make checks payable to the BSC Alumni Association and mail to the alumni office, P.O. Box 5587, Bismarck, N.D. 59506-5587. For more information or about credit card orders, contact Rita Nodland at 701-224-5692, 800-272-2586, or

About Bismarck State College
Bismarck State College, an innovative community college in Bismarck, N.D., offers high quality education, workforce training, and enrichment programs reaching local and global communities.