2016 – Spring ’21 Class Letter
Greetings, Class of 2016!
I was so happy to touch base with you for this Class Letter, and I can’t wait to share some exciting news about Ripon with you as well.
Students and staff are back on campus for the spring semester, with in-person, online, and hybrid learning models with plenty of testing to keep everyone as safe as possible. We, of course, have a lot to hope for with Alumni Weekend – it has been FIVE whole years – and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible attend our Reunion. If you’d like to join the efforts to plan our Class Reunion or help with outreach, please reach out to us!
Alumni Weekend 2021 will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen with two distinct summer weekends of Ripon alumni programming for us. No matter how you’d like to connect, virtually or in person, the Office of Constituent Engagement is developing a variety of activities to continue to follow CDC, Fond du Lac County and College guidelines in both June and August. Full schedules, lodging, and programming details will be posted soon to www.ripon.edu/alumni-weekend.
In honor of our June Alumni Weekend traditions, virtual alumni programming will be held Tuesday, June 22 through Saturday, June 26, and will include: an alumni town hall, R Connections webinars, affinity socials, a summer book club, and special recognition of the 2020 and 2021 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees.
The only in-person event, the Doc Weiske ’50 Memorial Golf Scramble, will be held off-campus on Friday, June 25.
A combination of virtual and in-person Alumni Weekend programming will be held the first week of August. We will continue to evaluate the state of COVID-19. If circumstances change at the local and national level and we need to cancel in-person programming, that decision will be made and communicated by July 1, 2021.
Virtual programming will be held Tuesday, August 3 through Saturday, August 7 and will include: a reunion-focused alumni town hall that also previews the new academic year, additional R Connections webinars, the summer book club capstone, and the traditional “That Was Then” storytelling session.
In-person, on-campus programming will be held Friday, August 6 through Sunday, August 8 and will focus on alumni awards recognition including for our very own JJ GRINDE ’16, a 2021 Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipient; 2020 and 2021 reunion celebrations including our 5th Class Reunion, and will feature other outdoor events like Rally Run and prairie walk.
Additionally, the Class of 2020 will officially be welcomed to our alumni community with a special commencement ceremony.
I am thankful for the friendships we have grown and continue to develop for these five years after graduation! Please do not take these connections for granted – especially in a time like this. Reach out to a friend, send some love, and do your best every day to find some light (even if it is just “Wow, that is a cool bird that I saw on my way to work!”).
ALEXANDER MEHRE ’16 of Veazie, Maine, has decided to return to school to get a B.S. in mechanical engineering. He is enjoying living with his wife in their first house near the University of Maine.
ALYSSA KENNEDY ’16 of McHenry, Illinois, has graduated medical school and started her residency training at the Mayo Clinic in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the past year! Starting her new job in the middle of the pandemic has been challenging but rewarding. Additionally, she and JORDAN POLK ’16 got engaged!
ALYSSA NYCZ ’16 of West Hartford, Connecticut, has less than 500 days until residency graduation (not that she’s counting….). In the meantime, she is preparing to spend part of the summer practicing medicine in Alaska (assuming COVID-19 cooperates). She and her significant other are currently searching for a new place to call home in Connecticut AND jobs in exploring emergency medicine (him) and pediatrics (her) with the hope that their career search lands them in Wisconsin! When they are not attempting to be real adults, they are probably watching Survivor reruns.
BRANDON MASTALISH ’16 of Mayville, Wisconsin, is moving to California to be roommates with another fellow Ripon alumni in the coming months to start a career and try something new!
CARL MEISNER ’16 of Minnetonka, Minnesota, is coming up on his second year of putting his degree to use, working at a healthcare software company. He has spent the pandemic playing a pile of board games, and practicing smoking ribs and brisket.
COURTNEY BLOOMER ’16 of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, moved back to Wisconsin after graduating nursing school in April and is working as a nurse in the ICU in Berlin, Wisconsin!
ELIZABETH KONIECZNY YAMAT ’16, of Glendale, Wisconsin, her husband Brady, and their son, Theo, are enjoying lots of extra time at home with their two dogs. They are loving watching all the Disney movies – especially Theo’s favorite, Moana!
EMILY GARY WESTPHAL ’16 of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was married to Derek Westphal in October of 2020 and is still spending a lot of time with their very hyper and spoiled Mini Goldendoodle, Maggie.
ERIKA RIEBE NELL ’16 of St. Paul, Minnesota, transitioned to Assistant Director of Admission at St. Catherine University in August! She is also working towards her MBA with a concentration in Integrated Marketing Communications and plans to graduate in 2022. She and ZAC NELL ’15 recently celebrated four years with their rescue pup, Rodgers, and are amazed/in denial about how white his face is already. They can’t wait until they can travel again and see people at our joint Class Reunions!
HALEY SORBO ’16 of Nekoosa, Wisconsin, has been with Visit Rome for two years as of May of this year and is happy to know that Rome is rapidly growing with Sand Valley!
JAMES-MARK OOKO-OMBAKA ’16 of Mount Vernon, New York, is a Project Manager at Code for Africa (CfA) – which is partnered and founded by Google News Labs, World Bank Group, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. CfA is the continent’s largest network of open data and civic technology labs! James continues to be passionate about social justice and economic empowerment. James also recently did an interview with the BBC on strategies that young/busy professionals should employ to deal with insomnia that recently aired! He was wearing some Ripon swag in the interview. For a sneak peek, check out BBCAfrica on Instagram!
JENNIFER KELLER ’16 of Mequon, Wisconsin, had a new career move! She said goodbye to the awesome team she worked with for four years in Richfield, Wisconsin, and began her role as Village Administrator in the Village of Jackson, Wisconsin, in January. She is looking forward to also being a back-to-back annual Wisconsin state parks pass holder. Any fellow alums with park recommendations, feel free to pass them along!
JENNIFER NIGGEMEIER ’16 of Germantown, Wisconsin, has been COVID-19-free since ’94.
JORDAN POLK ’16 of Greenwood, Indiana, has moved back to Wisconsin and recently started working as an admission counselor for Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He is the head varsity boys’ basketball coach for Hillsboro High School. Finally, he and ALYSSA KENNEDY ’16 got engaged!
KARI BROWN ’16 of De Pere, Wisconsin, has been working at Associated Bank for a year-and-a-half now and has definitely found her career! In June 2020, she was fortunate enough to marry her best friend – though their original May wedding was scheduled, they opted for a smaller ceremony as soon as they could. She and Chris love spending time with their families and goofing around with their 75-pound lap dog. She is certainly looking forward to what 2021 brings!
KATIE TREDINNICK ’16 of Madison, Wisconsin, has spent the last few months finding ways to incorporate the outdoors into her daily routine of sitting and looking at her computer all day. Sometimes she goes on walks around the neighborhood or sits on the porch in the sun or goes cross-country skiing with her beau, PAUL MEUER ’16. The computer is teaching her things, though!
KAY LULING SENGLAUB ’16 of West Allis, Wisconsin, has been surviving one day at a time. She’s been taking the dogs hiking when she can, and is in training mode for some events coming up! She tries to celebrate life through food and indoor activities on the weekends.
KELLI WALSH MYERS ’16 of Ripon, Wisconsin, married JOHN MYERS ’20 and they are looking forward to the first spring in their new home!!
LIZZIE PETERS ’16 of Appleton, Wisconsin, is still teaching 4K and 3rd grade at St. Edward School and is loving it! With COVID-19 causing pools to close or only open minimally, she hasn’t been able to be a lifeguard or teach swim lessons for almost a year. However, she has taken on being a Dog Trainer’s Assistant!! With this job, she helps the dog trainer and the clients train their puppies and answers their questions. She says, “It has been really fun learning how to train and work with puppies…a new way to use her educational skills!”
MCCAYLA THOE ’16 moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, and works for the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget as a Project Coordinator. In her free time, she is an independent artist through her small business, Selcouth Artistry at selcouthartistry.com.
MINH DO ’16 of Hanoi, Vietnam, changed his job and is currently working as a business analyst for a bank in Vietnam.
NICHOLAS LUEDTKE ’16 of Appleton, Wisconsin, completed a successful internship at Integrated DNA Technologies in Coralville, Iowa, where he progressed the prediction algorithms of CRISPR gene editing tools. He is finishing his Ph.D. in chemistry and is trying to answer the question of why enzymes are so big. He has been keeping himself sane with copious amounts of cycling and running and even took the opportunity to complete the rim-to-rim-to-rim at the Grand Canyon nonstop.
RACHEL ROKUSEK ’16 of Chesapeake, Virginia, was engaged over Labor Day weekend while in the Outer Banks and is currently planning their wedding for November 2021 when they can hopefully have a mask-free and safe celebration with their friends and family. She and her new coworker, Larry the cat, have finally figured out how to successfully work from home with very little interruptions to his catnap schedule.
RACHELLA BENNETT ’16 of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, bought a house in Menomonee Falls, got promoted, and is pregnant!
RAEANN BRIXIUS-FAHNRICH ’16 of Alexandria, Virginia, is wearing her mask, social distancing, and anxiously awaiting COVID-19 vaccination!
SIDNEY BLODGETT DEMASTER ’16 of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, has had a crazy year! Her daughter Eliza is growing like crazy. She just started to walk, so they are starting to babyproof everything. Sidney is currently working as an all virtual second-grade teacher for North Fond du Lac and is loving it (thanks COVID-19)!! She and her husband decided to put their house up for sale and moved in May. They then had a house fire in their new home in June. It was very scary, but they are all okay. Everything in the entire house had to be redone, but they were finally able to move back in November. It has been so nice to be home and settled. Sidney’s husband, Aaron, started Centerpoint Church in September and it has been going really well! They are growing and it’s been super fun to meet so many new people. They have services in the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac every Sunday at nine a.m.
SAM CANNING ’16 of Wheaton, Illinois, is living the dream of working from home with her dog.
SARA DRIEBEL ’16 of New Berlin, Wisconsin, is still working as a Human Resources Generalist and spends a lot of time working on growing an indoor jungle! She is anxiously awaiting the day she can get back to work at the zoo and misses seeing the critters and teaching the kiddos there a ton. Sara would also like to shout out JENNIFER NIGGEMEIER ’16 of Germantown, Wisconsin, for helping with this edition of the Class Letter!
SAMANTHA DEY ’16 of Union Center, Wisconsin, and ALEX SNELL ’16 of Brooklyn, Wisconsin, are engaged, expecting a baby, and buying a house!
TY KETZ ’16 of Clayton, Wisconsin, moved back to Ripon this past summer. He is coaching men’s basketball at Ripon College, bartending at Roadhouse, and is a caregiver for Comfort Keepers.
LUCERO PENA ’16 of Platteville, Wisconsin, is the Accounting Specialist for the City of Platteville.