2019 – Fall ’20 Class Letter


(262) 365-9726 / [email protected]


(224) 688-3049 / [email protected]


(262) 408-3785 / [email protected] 


(715) 889-672 / [email protected] 

Class of 2019:

Over the past few months, we have learned to cope and adjust to the “new normal” due to challenges surrounding COVID-19. I think a lot of us didn’t anticipate that the pandemic would carry into fall of 2020. Adapting to a pandemic isn’t quite the same as realizing you forgot to submit a paper while making the “Walk of Shame” back to Johnson Hall from the Quads and scrambling to finish it before your Monday 8 a.m.; however, if there’s anything we’ve learned from our peers, professors, and experiences at Ripon College, it’s that we can handle whatever life throws at us.

We will continue to face adversity head on and strive to make the most of our current situations. Heck, it seemed like it rained every Springfest of our four years at Ripon, and we still made the most of that. Whether it be completing graduate work or beginning a new job, the Class of 2019 has the tools to accommodate and excel during these challenging times. As we continue to explore industry or dive deeper into academia, we will apply what we have learned at Ripon to succeed in this next chapter of our lives.

In addition to COVID-19, we continue to live in an ever-present social justice movement. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah McClain, and countless more have reminded us that the fight for equality and equity among people of color continues to be an uphill battle. As founding father Benjamin Franklin stated, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” 

Climate change continues to rapidly lead our planet to a point of no return, and disproportionately affects minorities far more than other groups. As young leaders, we have the power and the responsibility to shape the world into a more equitable and stable place for current and future generations. Contact your elected officials, join a movement group or protest, and most importantly, vote. 

The College came out with Reunite Ripon: Our Plan To Return To In-Person Learning late summer. Classes begin for students on August 17th and will end on November 24th. A thorough description of Ripon’s plan for a safe return to campus can be found at ripon.edu/news. Additionally, the Midwest Conference made the upsetting, but smart decision to suspend athletic competition for the rest of 2020. As many of us were student-athletes and super-fans, it is difficult to picture a fall semester at Ripon without football games at Ingalls Field, soccer games at Prairie Field, basketball and volleyball games at the Willmore Center, and so much more. 

We are wishing you all well and hope you are engaging in some form of self-care! Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and socially is critical to your overall well-being. We want to see you all at Alumni Weekend on June 24-27, 2021. In order to make that happen, keep wearing your masks, social distancing, and refraining from the Tall Paul’s of your town. Listen to the doctors and the scientists. Remember, Red Hawks fly together. We will grow from these trying times and come out stronger and more united than ever before.


BECKY BAJT ’19 writes, “just got engaged to my adventure buddy, Drew! Frannie Cat, Drew, future Kitty, and I have also found a house together and will be moving in soon! Frannie misses the dorm life, especially when she could spy on people walking below her window!”

JAMES BALISTRERI ’19 writes, “There have been a lot of ups and downs since COVID-19 escalated. I was working as a stage manager in Door County, WI and had our show cancelled in the middle of our rehearsal process. After I prepped the show to be restaged, whenever it’s safe to gather again, I was laid off from the company. I took this opportunity to move out to Minneapolis and move in with my wonderful fiancé, SOPHIE WIDMAN ’18. While we, unfortunately, had to cancel a trip to see our wedding venue and see Sophie’s family in California, we’ve really loved getting to spend time together and make the best of the situation Since I’ve moved to Minneapolis I’ve been delivering groceries to those in need, planning our wedding, and waiting for the theatre industry to start making its way back. Here’s hoping things turn around soon!”

CARLY WESNER BOWMAN ’19 – “Just got married back in June! I started a new job as a website editor for a little shop up here in Fish Creek, WI!”

JACK CLOUGH ’19 is helping out with COVID-19 testing through the National Guard.

HAYLEE CONRADT ’19 will be a 5th grade teacher in the Kimberly Area School District.

CORAL EAKINS ’19 of Margate, Florida is a Flight Attendant for a major U.S. airline.

ERIC FELS ’19 of Reedsburg, Wisconsin is the Director of Operations at JustAGame Fieldhouse.

JUSTIN FILTER ’19 writes, “I moved to Lacey, WA in April 2020 where I am a platoon leader in the Army. My fiancé, SHELBI BUETTNER ’19, and I moved here with our dog and shortly after got another puppy! We are loving the state of Washington and all the scenery of the Pacific Northwest. My favorite part is seeing Mount Rainier every day on my way to work!”

LAUREN GOOD ’19 writes, “I have been working in the family roofing business and property management along with creating my own piano company called Everlasting Melodies.”

MELISSA MICALE HACKBARTH ’19 writes, “I got married to the love of my life on June 26th, 2020! We had to change our original big wedding plans due to COVID-19, but we were still able to have a magical, small ceremony with our family and bridal party!”

OLIVIA HECK ’19 writes, “I am headed into my second year of graduate school at Indiana University, pursuing my PhD in school psychology. COVID-19 has thrown a small wrench in my graduate experience, but I am constantly learning how to adapt and do the best I can despite the circumstances!” 

RACHEL HAWLEY ’19 writes, “I spent my summer working as an inpatient pharmacy technician at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, WI after my summer camp job was cancelled due to the pandemic. It ended up working out well because I was able to settle into my new condo and adopt a kitten, Pippa! I start my second year of pharmacy school this fall, which will be almost entirely online. Coming from someone who works and is pursuing her doctorate in healthcare, this virus is not going away anytime soon, even if a vaccine comes out by the end of the year. Please continue to wear a mask, we know it works to slow the spread. I hope you are all doing well. If you find yourself in Madison, I would love to do a socially-distanced meetup! Stay healthy!”

ELLEN HUGHES ’19 writes, “I worked an eight-month stint as an HR coordinator in Madison at InterVarsity. When that came to an end I made the decision that I would go back to school to pursue the licensure to become a high school social studies teacher. I’m currently planning a move to Oshkosh and will begin classes in the fall at UW Oshkosh!”

KATIE KING ’19 will be attending the University of Arizona to start pursuing her PhD in Biological Anthropology in the fall.

EMMA LEMKE ’19 is finishing up a Master’s degree in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies.

ROBERT ROSNER ’19 writes, “My first year in the UW-Madison Water Resources Management Master’s program went well and I really enjoyed all my classes and experiences. I also continued to work at the USGS Water Science Center in Middleton, WI during the school year and over the summer as a student hydrology intern. I continue to get great hydrology fieldwork that helps connect to my coursework and prepare me for a career in hydrology. This summer my graduate school cohort is working on our program’s practicum working on promoting flood resilience in the Coon Creek Watershed in southwestern Wisconsin. While some of the fieldwork had been limited by COVID-19, we were able to begin some fieldwork in the watershed in recent weeks and have been conducting interviews virtually. This fall we will detail our work in an interdisciplinary report and provide recommendations to better prevent and respond to flooding in the watershed. In my free time, I have enjoyed visiting my family in northern Wisconsin and spending time fishing with them.”

Our best to you,

Your Class of 2019 Class Agents,