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University of Wisconsin-Stout | Wisconsin's Polytechnic University
Looking back, moving on
Graduates share stories about their college experiences
along with what’s next in their lives
Mallory White
Hometown: Saint Joseph, Minn.
Major: Manufacturing engineering
Why did you choose UW-Stout? I chose UW-Stout because of the polytechnic learning approach. Throughout my college career, the hands-on learning allowed me to apply the classroom theory to real-world applications. UW-Stout also requires field work experience before graduation. This gave me the opportunity to take a semester off and do a co-op with Capital Safety in Red Wing, Minn. I was able to take all the knowledge I gained at UW-Stout and apply it directly to my co-op experience. I am now able to apply everything I learned in industry to a full-time career.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? Throughout college I came across many challenges. Balancing a full school load and playing a college sport became the biggest challenge of them all. I had to make a difficult decision and focus my energy toward my school work, but in the end it was a great decision and allowed me to succeed in my academics.
What stands out about your college experience? I will miss the wonderful professors who have taught me many important techniques and have given me the knowledge to succeed in my future. Each professor stands out to me in a unique way, and many of them I will stay in touch with as I go forth in my future as a manufacturing engineer.
What’s next? I will be moving to Portland, Ore., to begin my professional career as a manufacturing engineer with Nike, Inc. I am looking forward to a new experience and a new adventure.
Marlee Redmann
Hometown: Boyceville
Majors: B.S. game design and development;  B.S. applied mathematics and computer sciences
Why did you choose UW-Stout? I was unsure of my career path but loved video games and technology, so I looked for a college that offered a game design degree. I was extremely happy to discover UW-Stout offered this degree. Unlike many of my friends who wanted to go elsewhere after high school, I was more than happy to stay in Menomonie and earn my degree. Because I so enjoyed programming, I decided to add a second degree my sophomore year, applied mathematics and computer science with a concentration in software development.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? I think the biggest challenge I faced was working in teams. Each person has a different work ethic and a different skill set. Learning how to work with each type of person was challenging, but each class that required me to do so gave me a better understanding of how to work with others. My senior capstone relied heavily on teamwork. After getting to know my team, working together went quite smoothly.
What stands out about your college experience? All the opportunities I was offered stand out the most. In coming to college I just wanted to be a good student and graduate with good grades. I didn’t expect that I would get recognized for it. I felt such encouragement from professors throughout the years, and some of them gave me amazing opportunities, such as the chance to sit on the game design and development advisory board and a job as a supplemental instructor.
What’s next? My next step is getting married to my wonderful fiancé, Jacob Hoagland, on May 16th of this year! We plan on moving to Merrill, Wisconsin, and I will be starting at Liberty Mutual Insurance in Wausau as a software developer.
Amanda Smith
Hometown: North Hudson
Major: B.S. environmental science
Why did you choose UW-Stout? On my first visit I immediately felt at home, especially when I went on a personal tour of Jarvis Hall with the dean of the STEM college, Dr. Bomar. The friendly faculty and small class sizes seemed like they would be a smooth transition from high school. I knew I would be a valued student and not just a number.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? The biggest challenge was being a first-generation college student and experiencing all the "firsts" that come along with it.
What stands out about your college experience? Participating in student-faculty research, traveling the country to attend conferences and being an engaged member of the Menomonie community.
What’s next? This summer I am excited to be working as an intern with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in New Richmond, Wisconsin. In the fall, I will begin my first year of the water resource management M.S. program through the Nelson Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Go Badgers!
Andrew Steidtmann
Hometown: Winona, Minn.
Major: B.F.A. entertainment design 
Why did you choose UW-Stout? It was the best opportunity for me when looking into art schools. When I came here, UW-Stout had a great multimedia program, which became entertainment design in 2012, as well as the software and technology that I needed to succeed in my program. Even though my major didn’t have classes specifically catered to compositing and visual effects, (program director) Kevin Pontuti allowed me to spend a lot of time in digital cinema classes learning about compositing. I recognized the art program’s passion for their students from the day I first toured and met Kevin. I knew I could achieve my dream of working in the visual effects industry by going to UW-Stout.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? One of the biggest challenges for me was learning compositing more or less independently. Kevin was a great resource for the skills and techniques, but learning the industry tools was primarily an independent effort. In my first semester taking Digital Cinema Studio, I watched over 90 hours of video tutorials and read through multiple books to learn all about NUKE, one of the major industry standard compositing tools. I can’t tell you how many nights I stayed in the art building until 2 a.m. that first semester I took digital cinema. Ultimately, the hard work was well worth it.
What stands out about your college experience? One of the biggest things that stood out to me was the ability to have a self-driven education through the guidance and support of professors and mentors. Another would be the level of collaboration within the art program. For a few projects in digital cinema, I was able to team up with 3D modeling and animation students. We had a team of about 10 students and were able to work on a bigger project than one student could do on their own.
What’s next? I have accepted a position in the MPC Academy Program at MPC (Moving Picture Company) Montreal, Canada, and will be moving there with my fiancée. I will be working as a compositor there and will be working on feature films over the next year. After that, I aim to continue working at MPC in Montreal.

Kelly Bloomgren
Hometown: Fairmont, Minn.
Majors: B.S. hotel, restaurant, and tourism management; and real estate property management
Why did you choose UW-Stout? I knew UW-Stout had an excellent hospitality program, which is what I wanted to pursue at the time. UW-Stout is known for its polytechnic designation, which emphasizes a well-rounded curriculum in all areas instead of focusing on one area. 
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? The biggest challenge I had throughout college was balancing my work and school life. Financial situations are always a nightmare in college, but luckily I received scholarships from the university's foundation, which took some tension off so I was able to put more hours in the books instead of the punch clock.
What stands out about your college experience? I traveled abroad to Spain for a wine and food pairing course. I interned in Seattle for a highly successful company, which turned into a career, and had numerous student leadership opportunities, with the greatest one being part of a committee to find our current leader at UW-Stout, Chancellor Bob Meyer.
What's next? I have accepted a position with Weidner Apartment Homes in Colorado. I did an internship with the company last summer in Seattle, and it was amazing. I was offered a job right after the internship and solidified my plans during the fall of my senior year so I could focus on my studies instead of job hunting.
Adrienne Sulma
Hometown: Delafield
Majors: B.S. psychology; and B.S. applied social science
Why did you choose UW-Stout? I chose UW-Stout because of how welcoming it felt and its diverse majors. I was not sure what I wanted to do at first, but I eventually found my niche. I am thankful that I chose UW-Stout because of all the wonderful students, faculty and staff I got to know. They immensely impacted my life and my perceptions of the world. 
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? One of the biggest challenges was keeping up my grade-point average because of my multiple roles in life. This semester was very busy due to my three jobs, a full-time credit load, five different research projects, applying for graduate school and being on the Institutional Review Board. While these all occurred simultaneously this semester, I am thankful for all of my experiences, but they might have had an effect on my GPA. 
What stands out about your college experience? Research has been a huge part of my college career. Due to the support of the university, I have been able to create and disseminate individual and group research projects. Research conferences allowed me to share ideas with people across Wisconsin, the United States and even in Europe. Networking with others at conferences has helped me in many ways, including creating relevant research to better the community's social climate.
What’s next? The amazing experiences I shared with others at UW-Stout helped me get accepted into the University of Miami for a M.S. Ed. in community and social change. Once I complete this degree, I plan to obtain a Ph.D. in community psychology. No matter where the road takes me, I will advocate for community-based participatory research and culturally competent health and education programs for marginalized groups. 

R. Scott Albert
Hometown: Duluth, Minn.
Major: B.S. hotel, restaurant and tourism management
Why did you choose UW-Stout? I chose UW-Stout after spending a year working at golf clubs in New York, where I met general managers who were alumni and recommended I investigate a career in club management through UW-Stout. I found UW-Stout would be a great match for me based on what I wanted to do at the time, country club management. So after it was all said and done, I would say that UW-Stout chose me. I never expected or planned to attend school here, but I most definitely do not regret my path, as UW-Stout has opened many more doors for me.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? For me, the biggest challenge was a two-faced coin. One side of the coin was the financial burden that college puts on every student. The other side of the coin was the diligence to stick with it and to finish my degree. College provides a lot of opportunities to branch out and see new things. However, it takes mental fortitude to stay the course and complete a degree. Thankfully, I have been blessed with meeting some incredible people along the way who have supported me for the long haul.
What stands out about your college experience? For me, the most influential experience of my college career would be my time studying abroad. With a minor in Spanish, I studied in Spain but also took time off and visited 21 countries. The experience opened up the world to me. I found that the world is a really big place and I have seen so little of it. Studying abroad was a humbling yet incredibly rewarding experience that I would recommend to every student.
What’s next? My plan for 2015 is to be debt free by the end of the year, and then I am off to travel the world! When I come back is still unknown. The true traveler doesn’t have an itinerary and destination. They simply have a journey.
Liz Houser
Hometown: Arden Hills, Minn.
Major: M.S. applied psychology

Why did you choose UW-Stout? I was very excited about the structure of the MSAP program and the opportunities that UW-Stout would provide, even before graduation.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? Graduate school is always a challenge. I worked in the corporate world for several years after completing my bachelor's degree. Returning to school, I had to learn how to become a student again. However, I am very happy to have found a field that I am passionate about. I look forward to my career.
What stands out about your college experience? I really appreciated all of the hands-on and applied training I received through the MSAP program. I feel that these experiences have helped prepare me for my career in a way that other programs couldn't. 
What’s next? Before graduation, I was hired by Deluxe Corporation as a business analyst. I am very excited about this position, as it allows me to use the knowledge and skills from the MSAP program and apply them in a new setting.

Ben Wichmann
Hometown: Oshkosh
Major: B.S. computer engineering

Why did you choose UW-Stout? I chose UW-Stout because it offered a program that I found quite interesting. I had taken computer science courses at UW-Fox Valley my first year, but I wanted to expand that experience. I enjoyed the fact that computer engineering was a hybrid program, which offered experience in both computer science and electronics. Because UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, I also liked the idea that I would obtain real-world experience during my years here. In addition, the employment rate for graduates was exceptionally higher than other universities.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? Computers and electronic devices are improving everyday, so there’s good job security in the fact such things won’t be going away any time soon. That being said, there is a diverse range of opportunities that computer engineering can be applied to. Covering both the field of computer science and different areas of electronics, there’s an immense amount of material to learn in just four years. One of my biggest challenges was developing the mindset and balance to get through my studies while still having a decent college experience.
What stands out about your college experience? The things that stand out most are the different opportunities I was able to experience. I worked with three great companies: TTM Technologies, Kennedy Space Center and SGI, while still being able to graduate on time. I am grateful for these experiences and having a chance to work with some great people, but I was also glad to bring the computer engineering program’s name to their table.  
What’s next? I have accepted a job with Lockheed Martin as a research engineer. I will be working with NASA’s Human Research Program, at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The specific program will involve assisting the engineers with implementing proposed experiments that will be conducted on the International Space Station.
Michelle Schlung
Hometown: Antioch, Ill.
Major: B.S. apparel design and development
Why did you choose UW-Stout? I really liked the size of the campus and friendliness of the town. Apparel design and development is a great program and really focuses on technical design, which is what I was looking for.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? The biggest challenge was finding enough time to put into projects. There were a lot of nights without sleep, but everyone in the program was in it together, which made it fun.
What stands out about your college experience? Studying abroad my sophomore year at the London College of Fashion. Then, interning at Kohl's Corporation in New York City over the summer. Last, becoming president of Silhouettes Fashion Show (on campus) and showcasing my senior collection.
What’s next? I will be starting at Kohl's Corporation in New York City as an assistant technical designer.
Brant Murray
Hometown:  Nekoosa
Major: B.S. human development and family studies online
Why did you choose UW-Stout? I chose UW-Stout mainly because of the experience on campus I had when I first attended the college right out of high school in 2004.  I loved the atmosphere and remember how amazing all of my professors were, so when I was interested in getting back into school this was the first place I looked. I also chose UW-Stout because of the online program offering, and how wonderful the program staff, especially Dr. Julie Zaloudek, was in responding to any and all questions I had. The communication has always been amazing.
What are the biggest challenges you faced in getting your degree? My biggest challenge was easily the time restrictions I had. I knew when I re-entered college I would have to maintain my full-time job. I also run the operations of a suicide prevention nonprofit organization and am an extremely involved father of two young children. I made it a point to make sure that school never took me away from my time with my children. It wasn’t easy and involved some late nights and real prioritizing, but I was able to hold to that intention.
What stands out about your college experience? Just the pride I have in achieving this degree. I never thought this was going to be attainable or even an option, and now here I am. My college experience was different than many, but the amount of real knowledge that I came away with is amazing. What stands out the most is simply my growth in every aspect of my life — father, husband, professional, friend, etc.
What’s next? I was blessed enough to have things fall into place in exactly the right way that allowed me to get hired on with Wood County Human Services in Wisconsin Rapids, where I completed my internship. I plan to start my new career in social work and take a year to refresh and look at the possibility of entering a master’s program.

712 South Broadway Street | Menomonie, WI 54751

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