UNK Alumni Association honoring five distinguished graduates during homecoming

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney Alumni Association will honor five alumni award recipients during next month’s homecoming festivities.

The 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards go to Brian Buhlke (1993), Tim Carman (1984) and Tim Schlattmann (1985). The Jim Rundstrom Distinguished Alumni Service Award recipient is Ryan Tworek (1998), and the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award will go to Dusty L. Birge (2011).

The 43rd annual Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented 11:30 a.m. Sept. 29 during a luncheon in the Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room. Tickets are $25 per person ($30 starting Sept. 18), $15 for children ages 12 and younger, and can be purchased until Sept. 21 at unkalumni.org/homecoming or by calling the UNK Alumni Association at 308-698-5271.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Brian K. Buhlke, D.O., F.A.A.F.P.

Brian Buhlke is the chief of staff and trauma director for the Merrick Medical Center in Central City.

Following his graduation from UNK, Buhlke went on to earn his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine in 1999 from the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa, and completed his family practice residency through the University of Iowa at Mercy Family Medicine in Mason City, Iowa, in 2002. Upon completion, he accepted a position in Central City with Litzenberg Memorial County Hospital, along with Lone Tree Medical Clinic in Central City and Park Street Medical Clinic/Genoa Community Hospital in Genoa.

Since 2007, Buhlke has been the trauma director and is also currently serving as the chief of staff for the Merrick Medical Center. He has served as an American Academy of Family Physicians Fellow since 2008.

Buhlke has been recognized as the National Rural Provider of the Year (Nebraska), UNMC Adjunct Professor of the Year, Nebraska Rural Physician of the Year, Bryan LGH Trauma Champion, Nebraska Medical Association’s Young Physician of the Year, Nebraska Medicine’s Young Physician of the Year and EMS Physician Medical Director of the Year, among many additional awards.

He currently serves as a UNMC medical student preceptor and is an active leader for the annual Rural Health Care Leadership Conference. Buhlke also serves on the Central City Public Schools Board of Education as vice president-elect and is president-elect of the Central City Economic Development Corporation. He is a dedicated volunteer for several additional organizations in Central City.

A Kearney native and Kearney High School graduate, Buhlke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology with an environmental health emphasis from UNK in 1993. He resides in Central City.

Tim Carman

Tim Carman is a James Beard Award-winning food writer and columnist for The Washington Post. He focuses on national food issues and is a critic covering affordable and under-the-radar restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area.

Carman’s journalism career started with the Kansas City Star before moving on to the Houston Post, Houston Grand Opera, Sidewalk.com, Houston Press and Humane Society of the United States. Before joining The Post in 2010, he served as food editor and columnist for the Washington City Paper.

His work has appeared in numerous editions of the “Best Food Writing” collection. He has also written for Imbibe magazine, American Scholar, Food Network magazine and other publications.

His unique approach to reporting has earned him several awards in addition to the James Beard Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the Society of Features Journalism. Carman is a member of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild and a contributor to various UNK student experiences.

The Omaha Burke High School graduate earned his degree in advertising and journalism from Kearney State College in 1984. Carman also holds a certificate in culinary fundaments, L’Academie de Cuisine. He lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Tim Schlattmann

Tim Schlattmann resides in Los Angeles, California, and his career spans television comedy, drama, animation and film.

Notable writing credits include “Roseanne,” “Smallville,” “Dexter,” “Under the Dome” and “Insatiable.” Schlattmann has also served as co-executive or executive producer on multiple projects in collaboration with J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, M. Night Shyamalan, Eva Longoria and Pierce Brosnan.

Schlattmann’s work has earned multiple nominations from the Primetime Emmys for best dramatic series (writer/producer), the Writers Guild of American for individual achievement in writing, the Golden Globes for best television drama (writer/producer) and best writing in a dramatic series by Online Film and Television. Schlattmann received the Peabody Award in 2007.

He is a longtime member of the Writers Guild of America and the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences. Schlattmann is a frequent guest speaker for UNK communication students and has been a regular guest of the Nebraska Coast Connection, a social and business networking association of former Nebraska residents now residing in southern California and working in the entertainment industry.

A Kearney native and Kearney High School graduate, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcasting from Kearney State College in 1985. He also holds a master’s degree in speech communication from Colorado State University.

Jim Rundstrom Distinguished Alumni Service Award

Ryan Tworek

Ryan Tworek of Mission Viejo, California, has been a longtime volunteer for the UNK Alumni Association.

Tworek’s passion to give back stems from his UNK undergraduate campus involvement. Those experiences positioned him to be a leader among UNK alumni living in southern California for most of the years since his graduation, including service as a board member and president of the former UNK Southern California Alumni Association.

In recent years, the Tworek family hosted many alumni functions in their home. He has also continued to play an active role within the UNK Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity alumni community.

Tworek is an enterprise account executive for MasterControl, providing quality management solutions. He previously worked as an enterprise account executive for Pluralsight, Veeva and Oracle. Tworek was also an active volunteer for many years with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in southern California.

An Omaha native and Westside High School graduate, Tworek earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a business administration major and marketing minor from UNK in 1998. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

Distinguished Young Alumnus Award

Dusty Birge

Dusty Birge of Kearney started his career at General Electric, completing the Commercial Leadership Program, specializing in the industrial segment of the electrical industry. He then began his entrepreneurial journey, starting three successful businesses in the past seven years.

Most recently, Birge founded a startup in Kearney called Fast Forward and leads the organization as the chief executive officer. Fast Forward uses vehicle cameras and computer vision to automate the inspection and line patrol of utility power lines. His prior startup businesses include UAV Recon and Big Hit Industries, both of which he successfully sold and exited.

He has received numerous awards for his entrepreneurial efforts and was recognized as the 2022 UNK Emerging Entrepreneur. Other recent awards and recognitions include second place at DistribuTECH (2023), a top-five finish at the International SXSW Pitch contest (2023) and third place at the UNK Big Idea contest (2021). He also was a 2022-23 Nebraska Department of Economic Development grant recipient.

Birge is a Dundy County High School graduate and Benkelman native. He earned an industrial distribution degree from UNK in 2011.