Career Ecology 2017 | Featured Alumni

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For students looking to register for the Career Ecology event, please click here.
For alumni looking to register for the Career Ecology event, please click here.

Here are some of the amazing alumni who were part of this year’s Career Ecology, which took place on Feb 22.

alum abby studingerAbby Studinger (2014) HDFS, Dietetics
(2016) Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Physician Assistant, Family Medicine at UW Health

After graduating from SoHE in 2014, I went on to attend the UW Physician Assistant Program. Now I am working in Family Medicine with UW Health at the Odana Atrium Clinic.

During my undergraduate, I chose to study both Dietetics and HDFS. Dietetics provided much of the science background I needed to apply to PA school, but HDFS gave me an equally important education. It gave me the foundation to look at health issues from a psychosocial perspective in addition to the biologic. This affects the work I do now, because in order to provide good patient care, I need to be able to connect with my patient’s and their families during our visits. The foundation of coursework we received in HDFS helps me every day when educating my patients through important health decisions.

As a Family Medicine PA, I see patients of all ages and for both preventative and acute/urgent care issues. My days are always different, and always challenging. A few of the more common things I see include: well-child checks or routine adult physicals, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety, headaches, sports injuries, skin issues, and contraceptive counseling.  I also have the opportunity to meet with women for their “first OB” visit— the first appointment during pregnancy in which we go through prenatal education, order labs and their first ultrasound.  In addition to face to face time during visits, I also connect with patients when calling them about lab or imaging results, and responding to MyChart messages.

Although I am early in my career, I feel incredibly grateful for both the education and the community of support I’ve received through UW and SoHE.


Kari TemkinKari Temkin (2009) Community and Nonprofit Leadership
(2013) Masters in Public Service with a Leadership Certificate

Badger Volunteer Coordinator at Morgridge Center for Public Service

What I learned through my studies was practical and immediately applicable. From small tasks like writing a blog, to larger ones such as strategic planning, I’m happy to say that what I learned in my major was absolutely relevant to my day to day career. More than that, the people I met through the CNPL major have been great colleagues, friends and mentors, many of whom I still keep in touch with today.

For my day job, I have the pleasure and honor of connecting over 650 students each semester with consistent and meaningful volunteer experiences. I coordinate the student-facing side of the program, facilitate orientations, and manage the program logistics. Outside of work, I’m involved in several volunteer positions in the Madison community. I’m the Board President of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, an organization that provides professional development and social opportunities to young professionals in the nonprofit field. I’m also on the Board Training Committee, where I lead workshops on how and why to join a nonprofit board in Madison. All of the projects I’m involved in tie back to building community.

Gina StubenvollGina Stubenvoll (2011) Retailing,
(2016) Masters of Business Administration – Indiana University 

Merchandise Planner at Kohl’s Department Stores

I owe the retail program at Madison with helping me to attain my current position at Kohl’s. Due to my involvement with the Student Retail Association, the Retail Symposium class and sponsored trips I was able to network with professionals and HR representatives at Kohl’s prior to interviewing for theInternship that lead to my career. Through the SoHE program I was able to travel to China to visit Li & Fung factories, a major partner at Kohl’s, and yearly to New York for the NRF conference. Gaining major retail experience and creating a network of contacts prior to entering the industry full time allowed me to have a huge advantage over other students.


My career at Kohl’s has alternated between Buying and Planning & Allocation. I have loved being a part of the retail industry as it is constantly changing and every day at work is a different set of challenges. Currently as a Merchandise Planner, I focus on preparing a budget for our office based on inventory sales trends and developing long term strategies with our Buyer. I manage our open to buy at a total Omni-Channel level and work with the office to reach our sales and profitability goals each quarter, season and year.

Matt Fizell_Career EcologyMatt Fizell (2015) Personal Finance

Financial Associate at Thrivent Financial

The education I received from the Personal Finance program started paying dividends (yes… horrible finance pun intended) before day one of my career as a Financial Advisor with Thrivent FinancialThroughout my coursework and internships, I gained the knowledge and confidence to successfully launch myself into a field dominated by veterans who have been in the industry for 15+ years.

What I love most about my career is meeting and serving as a financial guide to people from all walks of life.  Whether it is someone just beginning their financial life, or someone who is ready to reap the rewards of having a solid financial game plan, it is incredibly rewarding to just help people make sense of an otherwise confusing subject.  Outside of my career, I have also founded a non-profit event called Wake the World, which aims to impact the lives of underprivileged children through water sports such as waterskiing and wakeboarding.  

Alisa PykettAlisa Pykett
(1997) English Literature- Butler University
(2005) Social Work- Indiana Univeristy

PhD Candidate, Civil Society and Community Research

Alisa Pykett is a PhD candidate in the University of Wisconsin’s Civil Society and Community Research program in the School of Human Ecology. She studies the spaces – both the symbolic and the actual settings and processes – that bring people together to collectively work to create the conditions that support human flourishing. She is also interested in experiences across the lifespan that impact people’s understanding of the commons and their commitment to the common good, with a particular focus on emerging adulthood. Her previous practice includes peace and social justice program design and facilitation for people of all ages. Pykett earned her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Butler University and her graduate degree in Social Work from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

maimoua xiong photo career ecologyMaimoua Xiong BS (2014) Human Development and Family Studies

College Advisor, PEOPLE Program

I currently serve as a College Advisor for the PEOPLE Program, a pre-college pipeline for students of color and low-income students who are often the first in their family to go to college. I provide academic and social support to over 300 college scholars ensuring that they have the capacity to thrive and succeed. This involves everything from course selection, career development, mentorship and collaborating with campus partners to provide opportunities that will maximize the collegiate experiences of our scholars. The students I work with are incredible and are one of many reasons why I love what I do. As a first-generation student myself, it is truly an honor to be a part of a program where I am able to work with students from similar backgrounds and give back to a community that is near and dear to my heart.

To begin, I loved every aspect of my SoHe and UW-Madison experience. Everything from the curriculum to my practical experiences allowed me to see the world through a different lens and much more holistically,especially as I prepared for the workforce. I appreciate SoHe for allowing me to take on an internship of my choice and seeing the value of the experience as it related to my education. This involved teaching English in Thailand and developing educational initiatives to provide for underrepresented communities in the rural areas. This global experience truly empowered me to step outside of my comfort zone and develop skills that have been very beneficial to my personal and professional growth. In turn, everything I learned as an HDFS major has continued to be significant in the work that I do, and I am deeply invested in continuing my work to empower those around me.

Logan Floyd Career EcologyLogan Floyd (2011) Consumer Affairs in Business

Sr. Merchandise Presentation Planner: Kohl’s

Until I was a Sophomore, I had never considered a career in retail;I simply didn’t know much about the industry.  Then, a friend recommended I take a class with an interesting name: the Retail Leadership Symposium.  In the class, she said, I would be able to learn from amazing people doing incredible things at companies across the country.  I never could have imagined that the Symposium would be a launch pad to a career in Retail.  Not only did it introduce me to a career path I had never even considered,but the trips, competitions, contacts, and breadth of coursework in SoHE gave me a unique perspective I carry with me to this day. There’s a sentiment in retail that “there is no such thing as atypical day”, but in Merchandise Presentation it’s more like calculated chaos.  As a Senior Merchandise Presentation Planner at Kohl’s, I have the privilege of working with many different departments in a given day.  I might create inspiring product presentations for our stores, partner with Merchants to develop Black Friday strategies, request graphic packages from In-Store Marketing, or secure funding for a new Capital project, all before lunch.  Such variety can be challenging, but it’s my absolute favorite part of my role.

Megan Miller Career EcologyMegan Miller (2009) Community & Nonprofit Leadership 

Assistant Director of Civic Engagement & Communications
Morgridge Center for Public Service 

My role as Assistant Director of Civic Engagement involves managing programs, events and communications to support the center’s mission of connecting campus and community through service and learning. In this position I supervise a team of twelve,including professional staff, AmeriCorps members and student interns, oversee a project budget of $250,000, and conduct regular program assessments. I serve on the Center’s Development Team focused on cultivating donors and creating a donor stewardship program. I also chaired a committee planning events around our 20th Anniversary celebration which will be took place in 2016. One of the greatest benefits of being a SoHE student was that I was exposed to service-learning early in my college career. I ended up volunteering as a reading tutor at Glendale Elementary School through MSCR. Because of this course I was introduced to the Morgridge Center‘s taxi service and all of the other wonderful resources the Center had to offer. I went on to continue volunteering at Glendale and ultimately got a job working in their after school and summer programs all throughout college. This experience helped build my network and give me hands-on experience for the jobs I would apply to right out of college. By pushing me to get out of the classroom through this service-learning course, I ended up being put on a career path I hadn’t ever really pictured.

Krista Browne Career EcologyKrista Browne (2009) BS Interior Design with Certificates in Business and Textile Science
(2012) MS Design Studies

Before launching my own business this past year, I was a Store Designer for Trek Bicycle Company. I was part of a team responsible for Trek’s Concept Store Design. I led retail design and construction elements and worked with a team of people at Trek in Marketing, Product, Sales and Design to create the newly curated bicycle retail experience.

I was part of the SoHE Family for many years and the unique interdisciplinary education. I participated in during my undergraduate and graduate studies opened my mind to anew way of thinking. I learned that breaking down silos and collaborating outside of the same pool of ‘designers’ allows me to help identify process, procedure, functional and aesthetic problems and create unique solutions to change behaviors and experiences.

Eric Mackay's photo.Eric MacKay (2014) MS Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

Graduate Program Coordinator at SoHE

As the School of Human Ecology’s graduate program coordinator, I work with prospective graduate students, graduate alumni, and with enrolled graduate students during their entire academic career. I collaborate with the Dean’s office and SoHE faculty to provide excellent academic, funding, and career opportunities to our students.

Bucky Badger Career Ecology Missing PhotoKristy Burkholder (1996) MS Education Psychology
(2003) PhD Human Ecology

Faculty Associate, Career Advisor at SoHE

I am part of a dedicated team of advising professionals that is charged with enhancing the future academic and professional success of students in the School of Human Ecology.  I am deeply committed to students in the School of Human Ecology because of my passion for student development, my commitment to providing high-impact educational experiences, and my strong belief in the value of career and leadership education for cultivating life-long learning and professional success. I have tremendous appreciation of the value of a Human Ecology degree and the mission of SoHE after earning a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from the school. Whether I am teaching students in the classroom or during advising sessions, I thrive on seeing students grow, succeed, and give back as community members and engaged alumni.

Madalyn ManzeckMadalyn Joy Manzeck (2016) Textile and Fashion Design

Designer & Blogger at Styled by Madalyn Joy

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Dean’s High Honors in May 2016. I received a Bachelor of Science in Textile and Apparel Design. I was the President of my major’s student organization, Apparel and Textile Association (ATA), and was a recipient of the prestigious YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund‘s scholarship. I have interned with Paul Andrew and Donna Karan at New York Fashion Week and spent the summer of 2015 as the Fabric Research and Development intern at Global Brands Group (a Li & Fung company) located in the Empire State Building in New York City. I have also worked as a Fashion Stylist at Michael Kors and most recently designed Miss Wisconsin 2016’s parade look for the Miss America competition that was held in September. I am currently working on my own designs full time. I am enjoying working one on one with clients and creating bespoke pieces of lingerie. In 2016, I designed anything and everything from lace robes for brides to be, to Miss Wisconsin’s parade look for Miss America to 16 dance costumes for a team competition to looks for my blog, Styled By Madalyn Joy. I enjoy the design challenges presents by each new and unique opportunity!

I simply cannot say enough good things about UW-Madison and SoHE!! The one thing that helped me prepare for my career path more than anything was all of the extra curricular activities that UW-Madison and SoHE provided me with. While I learned so much in the classroom, it was the opportunities outside of it that gave me real life experience. My involvement with the Apparel and Textile Association, Moda Madison, and the Threads Fashion Show really helped me learn the importance of collaborating and working with other people. Also, being involved as a student leader at SoHE and helping out at Freshman Orientation and Career Ecology really showed me the importance of giving back to a community that provided me with so much support. Perhaps one of the highlights of my collegiate career was competing in and winning the YMA scholarship. The intensive case study showed me how much hard work goes into industry projects and attending the banquet and career fair allowed me to connect with industry professionals which in turn led to my internship. Even though I may have not been located in NYC, I still found ways through UW-Madison and SoHE to intern at New York Fashion Week and a Li & Fung company and get the industry experience I needed.

Greta Goetz (2014)Greta Goetz Human Development and Family Studies

Graduate Student, Human Development and Family Studies 

Greta received a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014. As an undergraduate student, Greta worked as a research assistant at the Waisman Center for two years. Here she worked under Dr. Sigan Hartley’s supervision, assisting with Dr. Hartley’s pilot study looking at marital dynamics in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Immediately after receiving her B.S., Greta engaged with the Madison community as an autism behavioral therapist. Through this experience, Greta acquired additional knowledge of families of children with disabilities through direct clinical involvement in their homes.

Greta has been a graduate student, enrolled in the M.S. / Ph.D. program, within the Human Development and Family Studies Department since 2015. She is also project assistant for the Hartley Lab, located at the Waisman Center. As a project assistant, Greta is working on Dr. Sigan Hartley’s research project, Family Outcomes in Autism Spectrum Disorder. This 4-year longitudinal study looks at the underlying contexts and variables that may foster adaptive family processes and relationships, within families who have a child with an ASD.

Lindsey Honeyager (2Lindsey Honeyager004) Human Ecology with emphasis on Family & Consumer Communication and Consumer Science

Director of Building & Conference Services, Wisconsin School of Business

As Director of Building & Conference Services for the Wisconsin School of Business, I am responsible for the overall facility operations and events taking place within Grainger Hall. My teams lead the planning, scheduling, coordination and support of all events, activities and facility operations. On the facilities side of my role, we are currently focused on a large renovation of our Library and computer lab to create a state of the art Learning Commons. On the events side, we plan and coordinate all on site details for our nearly 10,000 events and activities annually, including coordination with catering for food service and our internal AV team for media support.

While at SoHE, I connected with a fantastic advisor who helped create a path toward an event planning career. She helped me to hand pick courses that would provide a solid foundation for events and related activities in marketing, finance, communication and so on. The most impactful courses were those with hands on activities in events, collaboration and marketing.

Neil MitchellNeil Mitchell (2015) Human Development and Family Studies

Master’s Candidate, Educational Psychology- Community Counseling

I finished my undergraduate degrees in 2015 with a B.S in Human Development and Family Studies through SoHE and a B.A in Spanish Language and Literature through Letters and Sciences. These degrees provided me with the foundation for a number of new and past positions working with the community. I am in my final semester of the Community Counseling Master’s program and have received nationally-renowned training in this area of study. My field work has been with Aurora Psychiatric Hospital working as a child and adolescent group, family and individual therapist. The experience has provided me with an opportunity to work with culturally diverse clientele and their families. The position is not only that of a therapist, but that of an advocate on behalf of these young individuals that are, more often than not, in difficult situations at home and at school. The certificate in trauma-informed care includes specialized training in working with severe cases of trauma in both children and adults and subsequent effects on day-to-day living.

As an undergraduate I completed my early childhood education internship with the Goodman Center where I found my passion for working with young children and supporting them at developmentally-crucial periods in their life. This experience coupled with an internship with The Canopy Center as a Parent Crisis Line advocate led to my current pursuit of Graduate study at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. The School of Human Ecology offers such a wide variety of courses and experiences that greatly benefit students. Not only does the program offer a welcoming and personal environment, but also gives students a sense of community – all working toward fields that center on human interaction. Courses such as Stress and Coping, Racial Ethnic Families, and Family Perspectives in Policy Making confirmed by passion for helping others and entering the therapeutic field. The HDFS major provides an optimal balance of student-driven responsibility and faculty assistance. I felt supported at all times throughout my undergraduate career and am genuinely honored and proud to call myself a part of the SoHE alumni.

Russ ZoellnerRuss Zoellner (2013) Interior Architecture

Facility Interior Designer at University Housing, UW-Madison

In my role working for UW, I serve as the primary interiors contact for both designing spaces to better suit the needs of staff and student groups, as well as providing project management to oversee final installation and moving services to transition user groups to their spaces. I am fortunate to work with and lead a talented team including 2 upholsterers, 3 design assistants, 1 moving and inventory assistant, as well represent UW by overseeing the work of a large number of vendor partners. A great deal of planning and communication is required to make our operation successful; we work daily with peers across our Division including Construction Project Managers, Building Supervisors, Residence Life Coordinators, Administrators, Dining Managers, and Trades Staff (just to name a few). Each year, we complete 50+ planned projects in collaboration with other Housing staff, with varying levels of size and complexity. These projects are in addition to a number of un-planned projects that come up (often with very tight timelines), and a wide variety of support for operational tasks. The spaces we work on includes residence hall common areas, dining/carry-out food facilities, apartment, and office areas. To say the least, there is never a dull moment!

I am incredibly appreciative of my experience as a SoHE student. After bouncing from majors including biology and economics, I found my place when I started taking Interior Design courses. I had a wonderful opportunity to connect my academic coursework with real-life design during my 4 years working as a Design Assistant/Intern for University Housing, with my mentor and predecessor, Julie Barrette. While still being early-on in my career, I feel comfortable balancing the level of responsibility my current role has due to the multi-disciplinary coursework I received in SoHE, as well as the ability to enhance leadership skills while serving as President of SoHE’s Honor Society, Phi-U. The connectedness and professional networking encouraged during the time when I was a SoHE student has also continued past graduation, and I have since been honored to serve on the IIDA Wisconsin Board of Directors, as well as become an active member of the Association of University Interior Designers (AUID). UW-Madison prepared me so well for my career, that after 1 year of working for a private corporation, I moved back to work on campus!

Corey LittleCorey Little (2016) Community & Nonprofit Leadership

AmeriCorps Tutor Liaison at Middleton High School- Achievement Connections

In my role as an AmeriCorps Tutor Liaison, I serve at Middleton High School with the Achievement Connections Program. My main responsibilities are volunteer management and recruitment. I also work to form inclusive and functional relationships between volunteer tutors and their students. I do this by providing detailed training and resources to volunteer tutors so that the time they spend with our students is as beneficial for each other as possible. Among all the work I do with Volunteers, I serve as a support system for many students who are enrolled in our program. I use the resources made available to me to ensure every student receives ample support and provide volunteers with memorable experiences tutoring students in Math.

My time at SoHE and UW-Madison helped me prepare for my career path by giving me access to opportunities that have set me up to be a successful contributing member of change to our society. I have been able to participate in resume workshops, mock-interviews, cover letter workshops, among other professional development seminars. I have also had a well rounded education that has exposed me to most of what is involved in a career in non-profits. I have figured out what I don’t want to do but most importantly I have figured out what I am passionate about and what my career path will look like thanks to the professors I have taken classes with, the volunteering I have done in the community, and the various organizations I have been fortunate enough to learn from. SoHE and UW-Madison have given me a strong foundation to build a thriving and fruitful career working in the non-profit sector.

Ellen KeeseyEllen Keesey (2015) Retailing & Consumer Behavior

Assistant Product Manager at The BonTon Stores

I graduated from Madison in May 2015 and started working at The BonTon Stores in downtown Milwaukee in June 2015. I have been an assistant product manager at The BonTon Stores for about 3 months now, before that I was an assistant merchant, basically an assistant buyer, at BonTon as well. As an assistant merchant I was responsible for all advertising for my specific department as well as pulling and analyzing sales, helping plan pricing and markdowns and a whole list of other random duties that came up day to day. An opportunity came up mid-September for an opening in our product development area and I jumped at the chance to be one step closer to the product. I work on ladies’ Ruff Hewn which is casual apparel for women; denim, knit tops, cozy sweaters, etc. While I did enjoy the buying side, product development is really where I was meant to be. I work hand-in-hand with the designers in New York, manufacturers overseas and the buyers internally. No two days are really ever the same which is very exciting.

I actually came to Madison for the retail program at SoHE; I really think the classes I took during my junior and senior year helped immensely in my job today. I had always thought that I wanted to be a buyer but after taking a product development class with Nancy Murray, it really opened my eyes to PD. Trend forecasting, more hands on with design, and really just a step closer to the product was what sparked my interest. The other amazing part of the retail program at SoHE is the Center for Retail and Jerry O’Brien. I was able to attend the NRF conference in Seattle my senior year which I think was invaluable hearing from top retail executives and being able to discuss and network with them as well. SoHE really gave me the tools to go after the job I always dreamed of.

Travis CollingsTravis Collings (2009) Personal Finance, (2014) MBA- Wisconsin School of Business

Senior Wealth Strategy Associate at UBS Financial Services Inc.

During my time in the Personal Finance program within SoHE I built the very early foundation for my future career. The course material was directly geared towards sitting for the Certified Financial Planner exam and rooted in professional applicability. Looking back on it my degree was effectively an elongated preparatory course for this designation and provided a launching pad for my career.
I have now spent a decade with UBS serving in a variety of roles including nearly all aspects of investment management and financial planning.I enjoy the variety these disciplines provide and especially the satisfaction of delivering highly specialized solutions to clients in order to better their financial lives. Despite having received my MBA from the Wisconsin School of Business, there is a specific debt of gratitude to SoHE as everything I have achieved subsequent to my undergraduate days started with the opportunities provided to me by the Personal Finance program.
Erin LadwigErin Ladwig, CFP® (2007) B.S. Consumer Science, Personal Finance

President, Forward Financial Planning

I graduated from SoHE in 2007 and for the last 10 years have been using the education I received to help individuals and families reach their financial goals. In March of 2014, at the age of 29, I took my biggest career risk yet by creating my own financial planning firm, Forward Financial Planning. It turned out to be the best decision I have ever made and I was named one of InBusiness Magazine’s 40 under 40 Class of 2016!

I know that none of this would have been possible without SoHE’s Personal Finance program. The coursework and the fact that the program is registered with the Certified Financial Planner® Board of Standards, made me able to sit for the Certified Financial Planner® exam immediately after graduation. I passed on the first try and give all the credit to the program and experienced professors who taught me everything I needed to be successful in this industry.

Career Ecology 2017 Ryan McGuireRyan McGuire, CFP® (2014) B.S. Personal Finance, Economics

Financial Advisor at Hewins Financial

The School of Human Ecology Personal Finance program has been instrumental in expediting my career progression to date. Besides all of the talented and awesome people that I met during my time as a student in SoHE, the very practical curriculum has translated extremely well to my current day-to-day responsibilities. I graduated in 2014 confident that I had found an industry and path that was perfectly suited for my personality and technical interests. After a rewarding internship during my senior year where I was able to apply much of my coursework, I went to work for Wipfli Hewins as an Advisor and have been there since May of 2014. My work revolves around financial life management; a multi-faceted, holistic approach to financial planning and investment management. In addition to completing my Certified Financial Planner™ designation, I am now working on my Chartered Special Needs Consultant® certification, to specialize in financial matters of families with special needs children. Outside of my day job, I have spent time as an Associate Lecturer in the Personal Finance program. During the Spring ’16 semester, I taught the capstone course in Personal Finance, and in the Fall of ’16, I taught Financial Life Skills for Life After Graduation. This time of year, I spend a lot of time officiating high school wrestling as a WIAA Master-level official.

Bucky Badger Career Ecology Missing PhotoMykenzie Lemberger (2013) Human Development and Family Studies

Early Head Start Teacher at Dane County Parent Council

I graduated in 2013 with a B.S. degree in Human Development and Family Studies. While at SoHE I was a part of the Students for Families Organization, worked at the University Preschool lab and worked in Dr. Poehlmann-Tynan’s research lab on a study of Young Children with Jailed Parents. These experiences in SoHE set the stage for my current job and schooling. Working in the research lab, confirmed my passion for families that are high risk, experienced a lot of trauma and the importance of positive parent-child relationships. I am currently enrolled in the Infant, Early Childhood, and Family Mental Health Capstone Certificate Program at UW along with working full time for Reach Dane Early Head Start/Head Start as a Center Based Family Support Specialist. Some of my main responsibilities as a CBFS are working with children and their families by providing on-going comprehensive support and case management services that promote positive family development/ self-sufficiency and social competency. Also, assuring parent involvement and being a liaison to other community agencies as well with addressing mental health needs.

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