2005 – Spring ’23 Class Letter

Greetings Ripon College Class of 2005!

We have several events upcoming- please let me know if you’re in town for any of these (or anytime, actually) – I’d love to catch up in person! Events include: Inauguration of Ripon’s 14th President, Victoria N. Folse on Saturday, April 22 at 11a.m., Commencement on Sunday, May 14 at 1p.m. and Alumni Weekend is June 22-25; while not a milestone reunion year for us, Alumni Weekend is always a good time!!

More information about the event and activities during Alumni Weekend will be available soon. There are room blocks at Heidel House in Green Lake (Book here) and at Cobblestone Suites in Ripon (Call 920.748.5500). There will also be rooms available on campus starting in April.

Most of us have recently or will be turning 40! Is it hitting anyone else differently than other years? I’ve thought a lot about the fact that almost half my life is over. In the day-to-day of raising kids, all the running, working, keeping the house, staying in touch with friends and finding moments to do the things I actually want to, it’s easy to not notice the days slipping by. Then all of a sudden, a month, year or three have gone by and I wonder what I’ve done with my life. If you’ve had a moment to examine where you are at and where you want to go, remember this: please do not judge your life based on what is working for others, what society has deemed “successful” or even what 19-year-old you thought you’d have accomplished. I believe success is simply doing a little better than yesterday. Also, sometimes, you need to say screw it and jump out of a plane because 40 is just a little bit scary so why not do the scary (this will be me in May).

My life update: I got a new job! I’m still at Ripon (dynamite probably couldn’t get me to leave this place!), but I’m now the Executive Assistant for Academic Affairs. I’m supporting the VP/Dean of Faculty, the Faculty, faculty committees and anyone else working hard in academic affairs. This comes after six months of doing this work and supporting the new President on an interim basis. I’ve learned more about how the college runs and a lot about myself. I’m grateful for the opportunity to grow professionally while staying at a place I love. My boys, now eleven and seven, are full of attitude, independence and sass, except when they aren’t – ha! We’ve been in our house for a year and a half; we’re finally rearranging all our stuff to best fit our lives instead of just where it fits when we moved it. It feels good to settle in.

Here is what is going on with your classmates:

CJ JOHNSON ’05 writes – “I’m still currently living in the Minneapolis suburbs with my family. The big family update is that my wife and I got married last September! I’m still currently running our vehicle financing dealership as well. I’m still collecting shoes and doing my best at attempting to collect cars.”

PAUL LARSON ‘05 and SARAH MCGILL LARSON ’05 write – “We moved to Green Bay in 2019. The move resulted in a career change to actuary for Paul. He is a risk-modeling actuary at Humana. Sarah teaches math at Bay Port High School. Paul’s big news is that after three years at Humana, and about three before that, he finished his 8-exam sequence and earned a credential. We are curious if Amanda reads all of these to edit out bad language. As Paul wrote this, Sarah kicked a scale in the bathroom and whacked her toe. (For the record, I, Amanda, only edit punctuation here and there, no other editing!)

Kids Parker (4th grade) and Tanner (2nd grade) are awesome in school. Tanner maxed out on her reading assessment a few months ago. Parker was placed in an accelerated math program this year, and the math majors rejoice. Upcoming trips include Las Vegas/Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, some camping in upper Michigan. On a whim, we ALMOST planned a trip to Iceland in March (Cold? Yes, but the geothermal activity keeps the waterfalls running year round!). We got a lot of details figured out before changing our mind, so we might hang on to the idea for another year or two.”

RENEA VORPAHL MERTENS ’05 writes – “Our family of five is still happily living in the Green Bay Area. We are busy with gymnastics, swimming and lots of toddler activities. I was recently promoted to Sr. Claims Consultant at Acuity Insurance and continue to provide onboarding programming to our claims professionals. Looking forward to warmer weather and spending time at our camper in Wautoma.”

JENNY SCHULTZ ‘05 is currently working for Roche on a one-year contract in Burich, Switzerland.

ASHLEIGH KEITH SMITH ’05 writes – “I’m still at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee as level 2 Elephant Caregiver. Don has a new customer service position that lets him work from home. It’s nice to have similar schedules again to spend time together. Still have the same ‘zoo’ at home: two dogs, five cats, two ferrets, and two aquatic turtles. We also love getting to spend time with our grandson. He started preschool this fall.”

SARAH SMITH ’05 writes – “I’ve been married for almost five years to my husband, Patrick. We have a cat named Dexter who loves to eat houseplants so we’re slowly turning the yard into a giant garden. I’m still a librarian at Carnegie-Stout Public Library. I’m planning a trip to Ecuador with my sister, BECKI SMITH ‘09, for my 40th birthday.”

A few more thoughts from me: Do you remember what 19-year-old you wanted out of life? What the big plans that you dreamed about in your dorm room? What did you think it meant to be successful “as an adult”? No matter the paths life has taken you, I know Ripon helped give you the foundation to find success – whatever that looks like for you! Please give to help our current and future students receive that same foundation. The website is simple – ripon.edu/give and is open 24/7.

All the best!

Your Class Agents,

Amanda ‘05
(920) 299-1081

Daphne ‘05
(414) 841-7210

P.S. There will be a special giving event in conjunction with inauguration weekend, April 20-23, to celebrate Ripon’s 14th President, Victoria N. Folse, and the exciting momentum happening within our campus community. This event will be an extension of the #OneDayRally brand and experience. Stay tuned for more information. We look forward to your participation!