Alumni Stories
Alumni Stories

Our alumni's career paths span industries and locations. Each is empowered by our liberal arts education to excel in a variety of fields—moved by curiosity.

Check out the stories below as well as updates in the Alumni Enews.


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Where has curiosity taken you? Please send us your Alumni Spotlight so we can share your story online!

Angela Pennisihistory, is a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in orthopedic physical therapy who is president and director of PhysioPartners, which she founded in 2000. She received a Robert G Dicus Award from the American Physical Therapy Association, Private Practice. More

Chuck Pool, history and journalism (CoJMC), is Assistant AD/Athletic Communications at Rice University. More

Abby Bogatz, Spanish and psychology, is a Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologish at Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, NE. She works closely with children and assess if they communicate appropriately or if they would benefit from therapy. more

Melissa Walls, sociology, is co-director of the Center for Indigenous Health at Johns Hopkins University. She received the JHU’s 2023 President's Frontier Award, which recognizes exceptional scholars who are on the cusp of transforming their respective fields. more

Milla Jonesglobal studies, is now working for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) within the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care as a Business Analyst. more

Natalie Kammerer, French, is now an English Content Translator for a French-owned language-learning company similar to Duolingo. more

DeMisty D. Bellinger, English, is an associate professor at Fitchburg State University. Her debut novel, New to Liberty, was a “Book of the Day” recommendation from the New York Public Library.

Ashanka Kumari, English, is an assistant professor and the doctoral coordinator at Texas A&M University.

Mackenzie Schmidt, political science and global studies, works for the Minnesota Council of Churches’ Refugee Services Program, one of five volunteer agencies contracted to resettle refugees in Minnesota.

Zach Rohde, physics, is an engineer and operations manager at Spectral Energies.

Ben Norton, Japanese Studies (minor), is Study Abroad Coordinator at Senshu University.

Jeff Gilbertson, history and sociology, was recently named High School Principal of the Year by the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals.

Jonathan Cheng, nineteenth-century studies and digital humanities, is applying skills to his role in the Research and Development division of Apple.

Katie Brossy, sociologyreceived the 2021 Native American/Indigenous Leaders Worth Watching Award from the Profiles in Diversity Journal. She is senior counsel wtih a law firm in Washington, D.C.

Mekita Rivas, English, has carved out a space for herself in digital media.

David Peterson, meteorology, earned the David S. Johnson Award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Saadi Bualaq, global studiesis interning at the U.S. Department of State (DoS) at the Office of Policy, Planning, and Resources (R/PPR) under the scope of Public Diplomacy (PD). He is attending American University's School of International Service (AU SIS) for a graduate degree.  

Rebecca Jacobson, English, is the public outreach coordinator for the National Institute of Science and Technology in Boulder, Colorado. She has been a science writer and journalist for PBS, JILA, and the City of Denver.

When the pandemic hit, Scott Henderson, international (global) studies, launched Project Tumbleweed with an epic road trip.

Patrick O’Donnell, history and political science, has protected and guarded Nebraska’s Unicameral for more than four decades.

Registered nurse Christine Plummer Huber, psychology, has become the patient as she confronts Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Kimberli Lee, American literature, wrote her dissertation from letters in the Sandoz archives and is now a professor at Northeastern State University.

Jeff Torczon, computer science, is an entrepreneur and investor who founded InfinityHR and AspenIO. Read his Alumni Spotlight.

Timothy Ehlers is a high school English teacher in Salem, Oregon, and 23 years as a GIS expert for years in government before that. "My time at UNL was a great experience, especially when I found my home in the geography department. It was an area of study that kept me wanted to learn more and more, along with professors that had a passion to help us learn and discover." Read more in the Curious Alumni post.

Scott Eastman, political science, is federal research manager at the Tax Foundation, where he coordinates research production for the Center for Federal Tax Policy, and a contributor to Business Insider.

Moe Bidgoli, computer science, started the computer science department and the Association for Computing Machinery group at Saginaw Valley State University.

Major Rolando Perez is the chief of Air Battle Manager training at the 129th Combat Training Squadron at Robins AFB, GA. He utilizes the remote sensing/GIS/cartographic skills he learned in the Department of Geography for a Moving Target Indicator/Synthetic Aperture Radar.

Brooke Bolin, geography, is employed with City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation and works on prairie restoration.

John Jackson IV, geography, works at an engineering firm in Los Angeles.

Kevin Thor, communication studies, won a Fulbright fellowship, leading to a year in Vietnam, and is moving into global nonprofit/NGO work.

Michael Forsberg, geography, is a well-known conservation photographer and Nebraska native. He recently delivered the Lavin Seminar and received a national award from the Sierra Club.

Aubrey Streit Krug, English and Great Plains Studies, had her essay “Grounded,” featured on the Center for Humans and Nature website.

Julia Moore, communication studies, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Utah, has won the National Communication Association’s Gerald Miller Dissertation Award. more

Marlan Downey, geology, was a highly-accomplished geologist who received the Sidney Powers Memorial Award, the highest honor bestowed by the AAPG, in 2008 for his outstanding contributions to oil and gas exploration. He passed away Memorial Day, 2017. more

Lynnette Kelly, Urban Studies, is Executive Director at Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board and was recently named a Freda Johnson Trailblazing Women in Public Finance 2016 honoree. more

Mary Ann McDowell, biological sciences, is associate professor at the University of Notre Dame. more


Rebecca Fahrlander, sociology, is a decorated instructor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and was inducted into her high school's Hall of Fame. more

Amanda Barker, poltical science, economics, and English, is the Deputy Executive Director and Director of Civic Health Programs at Nebraskans for Civic Reform.

Fred Zwonechek, sociology, has served with the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety for 42 years, the past 35 as administrator, making him the longest-serving state traffic safety director in the country. more

Chad Myers, meteorology, is a CNN meteorologist who wrote “I, for one, have changed my conclusion over time on whether humans are responsible for the increased heat content of the Earth. I write this article not to change your mind about global warming; I simply want to show you why I changed mine.” more

Donor Gwinnie Berexa did what her great-grandfather, alum John D. Clark, did decades ago. more

Leo Sierra, psychology and Spanish ('14), is coordinator of the Scotts Bluff County TEAMS Program and also works at the AIM Institute. more

Christina Riesselmangeology, works on the Antarctic ice shelf and at sea, collecting sediment cores from hundreds of meters under the sea floor and reads the climate history of millennia past. more

Brian Vaske, computer science, is founder and CEO of ITI Data, and he started a scholarship for the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

William Poe, anthropology, had a career path that went from researcher to Collection Information Manager at the Smithsonian Institution and ultimately success in several government agencies.

Jonathan Kusy
, geography, is a cartographer at a natural gas pipeline company in Omaha.

Jesslyn Brown, geography, is a "Research Geographer" with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Department of Interior.

Nina Murray, English, has translated Russian and Ukranian novels and published poetry. "Minimize Considered" draws on her experience as a Foreign Service officer. She is now serving in Moscow in the Environment, Science, Technology, and Health section of the Embassy. Her poetry collection, "Alcestis in the Underworld," will be published spring 2019.

Mele Koneya, geography, developed Fire Headquarters Maps and Emergency Operations Center Maps for Scottsdale, Arizona. The maps were featured in the Esri Map Book.

L.W. (Roy) Stoesz, geology, spent 45 years in the energy exploration trenches, traveling over the world for Shell Oil Co. and later his own consulting company. more

Benjamin Miller, biochemistry, is a supervisor in the water permits division of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was recently accepted into the seventh class of the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy. more

David Allen Lindsey, geology, found his lifetime job - field research in minerals and mapping at the U.S. Geological Survey - rewarding. more

Molly Merrell, English, is currently the Locations Coordinator for FOX drama "Shots Fired" and is assisting with Cinemax's "Outcast." more

Nathan Sanderson, history, is the director of Policy and Operations for the State of South Dakota. more

Natasha Scholz, psychology, is case manager at Live Yes Studios. more

Nick Starling, political science, is a reporter at KMTV Action 3 News in Omaha, Nebr. more

Natalie Wagner is a vice president at State Street Global Advisors, the second largest institutional asset manager in the world. more

W. Kim Austen, mathematics, is president and chief operating officer (retired) at Nationwide. more

David Penn, psychology, is heading new research that could revolutionize schizophrenia treatment. more

Faith Colburn, political science, is the author of two memoirs, 'Threshold' and 'Prairie Landscapes.' more

Tom Casady, political science, is public safety director for Lincoln, Nebraska, responsible for the Lincoln Police Department, 911 Emergency Communications, and Lincoln Fire and Rescue. more

Christine Ngaruiya, sociology, is a practicing physician in the emergency room at Yale University New Haven Hospital and a social activist for equal healthcare access. more

Ali Nilsen, psychology, is Talent Specialist at Lincoln Industries. more

Brooke Mullen, international studies, owns Sapahn (“suh-pawn”), a fair-trade and ethically sourced accessory shop that she runs from Lincoln and Thailand. more

Katie Brossy, sociology, is an attorney for Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, one of the most influential lobbying firms in the country. more

Thomas Williams, chemistry, is Nebraska's chief medical officer. more

Rev. Eliot Schwer, psychology, serves at St. Patrick’s Church in Fremont, Nebraska, and had a winding journey to get there. more

Zachary Smith, Modern Languages, doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzes critique from Mizrahi radicals in Israel in this podcast. more

Barbara Hendricks, chemistry and mathematics, is a world-renowned opera singer in Europe. Born in the United States, she raised a family in Switzerland and travels as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. more

Jerry Janulewiczpsychology, is Grand Island, Nebraska's city attorney. more 

Todd Bahenskypsychology, is Hall County corrections director in Grand Island, Nebr. more 

Kathleen KingEnglish, taught at Idaho State University. She has had poems, stories, essays, and a novel published, and she has edited and published many literary magazines. more 

James Carrchemistry, is an Emeritus Professor of Chemistry. more

Eric Norrgard, physics, mathematics, is a Physicist at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD. more

John Schiel ('04, '09) is a research chemist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology coordinating bioanalytical efforts of the Biomanufacturing Program. He is the Nebraska Alumni Association Early Achiever Award 2014 Winner. more

Pippa White, English, had an extensive career in theatre and television on the West Coast and created and performs Love in Action, a one act solo performance that explores the lives of Florence Nightingale, Lillian Wald, and Margaret Sanger. more

Emily McKeone, environmental studies and sociology, was a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Zambia who raised money to refurbish wells. more

Brian Buescher, political science, serves as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska

Rosemarie Anderson, psychology, received the Abraham Maslow Heritage Award from the American Psychological Association's Division 32.

Mallory Netz, psychology, is a third year graduate student at the University of Florida in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology studying Pediatric Psychology. more

Zain Saleh, psychology, works at the Clyde Malone Community Center in Lincoln, Nebraska as the Youth Program Coordinator. more

Mark Baxa, biological sciences, discovered a new species while studying at Cedar Point Biological Station and has given back. more

Reid DeSpiegelaere, English, history, and political science, is leading a startup in connection with United Way in Phoenix, AZ. more

Katie Czapanskiy, philosophy and political science, is an attorney at Human Rights First. more

Theodore Wheeler, English, is a fiction writer and legal reporter in Omaha, Nebraska. more

Todd Arrington, history, is Site Manager at James A. Garfield National Historic Site and an Army veteran. more

Mary Ann McDowell, biological sciences, is an associate professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and the past chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Eck Institute for Global Health. more

Kathie Starkweather, sociology, works for the Center for Rural Affairs as its farm and community program director. more

James Dolton, political science, is chief imagineer at Jake's Construction. more

Mari Lane Gewecke, political science and history, founded Lane Gewecke Consulting, has served on numerous boards, and is on the advisory committee of Nebraska Alumni Association's Nebraska Women's Leadership Network. more

Bub Windle, political science, is a lawyer at Mueller Robak LLC. more

Shams Al-Badry, political science, works with Teach America and is an Iraqi refugee. more

Andrew Molthan, meteorology (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences), is with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and received a Presidential Early Career Award in February, 2016. more

Eric Leyden, history, is executive chef at Sandhills Golf Club in Mullen, Nebraska. more

Cynthia Harris, sociology, is administrator of the Office of Consumer Affairs at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division. more

Aleah Peters, communication studies, was crowned Miss Nebraska. Her platform is “Cyberbullying Prevention — Make Kindness Viral.” more

Tyrone Jaeger, Theodore Wheeler, and Dave Madden, English, are writers who met each other during their time as students. more

Bradley Peters, psychology, studied photography at Yale and teaches at Southeast Community College. more

Shahidrah Cowgill, psychology, is the clinical director at Fundamental Foundations Counseling Center in Frisco, TX and attends events like Carry the Load. more

Former Husker wrestlers Jordan Burroughs and James Green, sociology, represented the United States men’s freestyle team in the 2015 World Championships at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. more

Eleanor "Jean" Kops, sociology, returned to the University of Nebraska in 2015 after a 68-year hiatus to finish her degree. more

Noboko Tsukui, English, was a child living in Tokyo when the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings killed more than 200,000 people in 1945. She moved to the United States in September 1961 and completed her doctorate here. more

Ayman Sahli is CEO of Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) in the United Arab Emirates. After earning his Ph.D., Sahli worked in process development in Syngenta, Ala. and Wyeth, N.Y. more

Erin Healy, political science and Latin, ('09) is a consumer insights specialist at Lawrence & Schiller. more

Rebecca Richards-Kortum, physics and mathematics, is Rice University’s Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering. She is a dual member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as of April 2015, a status few scientists hold. more

Loren EiseleyEnglish, anthropology, geology, was an anthropologist and writer. more

Morgan MontgomeryEnglish, is part of the coaching staff of the Nebraska School of Gymnastics program. more

Iris Elezifilm studies, received Oscar consideration for her first feature film, “Bota.” more

Jenifer DugdaleEnglish, is an instructor at Lincoln East High School who was named Teacher of the Month in April, 2016. more

Johnny Hendersonmathematics, is Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Baylor University and received the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year award. more

Janet Ahler, anthropology, lived with a Yu'pik family and has worked with many native tribes. She is now an emerita professor at the University of North Dakota. more