Today’s Students are Setting Themselves Apart
Walking across the Viterbo University campus on any given day will yield a host of sights—students listening to music on their iPods, surfing the Internet on their laptop computers, or tossing a Frisbee around with friends. And on the right day, in the right place, sightseers have been known to catch an occasional glimpse of a colorfully clad student juggling clubs while zooming through campus on a skateboard.
In this day and age, students are as different and unique as their backgrounds, interests, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. They are from places as close as La Crosse and as far away as Africa and China. They enjoy things most people would expect—sports, music, and hanging out with friends.
They also strive to make the world a better place.
“Today’s students are described as being members of Generation 9/11, a generation that is interested in improving the lives of others and is better prepared to handle global issues and a world economy,” said Diane Brimmer, Viterbo’s vice president for student development. “Entering freshmen say that raising a family, being well-off financially, and helping others are of most importance to them. They grew up with interactive, entertaining technology; go to Internet sites for much of their news; and are listed on networking sites like Facebook.”
Often portrayed in the media as living through the Internet, disconnected from the rest of society, and uninterested in the world around them, students are considered by many to be less socially conscious than many of their Baby Boomer parents. But are they really? Strides recently sat down and visited with 21 Viterbo students, and the results were extremely affirming.
This generation of college students are tomorrow’s doctors, artists, business leaders, and social activists. After meeting this group of Viterbo students, we think you’ll agree, the future is in good hands.
Hometown: La Crosse
Major: Music Performance with an emphasis on Piano
Katelyn Bouska is a person who knows what she wants.
What she wants is to earn a doctorate degree and to work as an “artist in residence,” teaching and giving performances on the piano.
“My mom started teaching me the piano when I was six,” Katelyn said. “I loved music, lessons, and the piano. Playing is something I always wanted to do, something I had to do.”
The passion she feels for the piano is evident and heartfelt. “I love the feeling of the keys and the mellow sound,” she said. “And the piano is a very independent piece. It works well alone or with other instruments and musicians.”
Katelyn is working hard to make her dreams come true. She practices five to seven hours a day, gives lessons at Leithold Music in La Crosse, and plays for services at two local churches. After graduation in May 2008, she plans to attend graduate school in New York.
When not playing the piano, she spends her time reading about composers, history, and historical fiction, and going for walks. Her advice to aspiring pianists?
“Practice,” she said. “There is no substitute.”
Major: Music Theatre and Arts Administration
Ever since he auditioned for a play in high school, Jeremy Day knew the theatre was for him.
“Even if I don’t make it to Broadway, my career can still be a success.” Day said. “But theatre is where it needs to be.”
After college, Day would like to move to New York to pursue his career. Traveling across the United States performing in theatrical productions is also a possibility.
Day has greatly enjoyed his theatre experience at Viterbo, even participating in recruiting trips. Teaching is also a possibility in the distant future.
“I would be helping someone else realize their dreams,” he said.
Hometown: La Crosse
Major: Social Work
Renee Walton’s Viterbo career got off to an early start.
She took advantage of the university’s Youth Options program, which allows high school students to take a class at a university for high school and college credit. She took a religious studies course and “loved it.”
“I saw a play at Viterbo when I was a freshman in high school and I told my dad, ‘I want to go here,’” she said.
Renee enjoys reading, especially Dean Koontz and John Steinbeck, and spending time with her dad. She hopes to travel to Louisiana to do hurricane clean up after graduating from Central High School.
“I’d eventually like to lead mission trips or work as a family counselor,” she said.
A nurse is what Emily Shong always wanted to be.
“My aunt is a nurse, and my mom works at a clinic, so I’ve been around the profession a lot,” she said. “I like the caring aspect of nursing. You really get to know the patients. I’ve always liked science and it’s a field that is continually changing.”
Shong’s dream job is to work as a pediatric oncology nurse at St. Jude’s or another large medical center.
Outside the world of health care, Emily enjoys being outdoors, taking walks, and watching her favorite television shows, Grey’s Anatomy and Gilmore Girls.
So what’s important to this 20-year-old nursing student? “My family, friends, and God,” she said.
Hometown: Twin Lakes
Basketball has always been a big part of Eric Ambrose’s life. So, he looked for a college where he could play basketball and at the same time get a good education.
He finished his freshman year as the starting point guard and was named honorable mention all-conference, all while making the dean’s list.
“I worked hard at both athletics and academics,” he said. “I take school seriously.”
Eric’s goal is to become a forensic accountant, dealing with fraud cases and trying to head off the next Enron scandal.
“I plan to get a good education, enjoy my basketball career, and make the most of college,” he said. “I want to succeed at both. I want to look back and say I was able to use my full potential.”
Hometown: Waukon, Iowa
Major: Religious Studies
Jacob Hustvet likes to help people. When he’s not spending his time studying, performing in a theatre production, or singing as a member of an acclaimed barbershop quartet, he volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse.
“I’ve decided that I want to help people in every way possible,” said Hustvet. “I don’t know if I’ll be called into the ministry, or to help people in other ways. I like working with kids.”
Hustvet said his ideal job would be working as an activities coordinator for a youth organization.
“Anything that deals with people,” he said.
Hometown: La Crosse
Tim Lenard likes to do his own thing.
“I love all kinds of art and creative expression,” he said. “And I really like the idea of living free and doing your own thing.”
Tim hopes to work as a freelance writer or journalist, ideally a literary journalist in the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson or Truman Capote.
He enjoys reading, playing the drums in the Viterbo pep band, watching his favorite television shows, The Office and Scrubs, movies (mostly obscure foreign films), and especially listening to music—every type except country.
“Thirty gigabytes on my iPod isn’t big enough for me,” he said with a smile.
Year: Graduated in May
The sky is the limit for Vicki Mooney. A May graduate, she is now at Yale University, on her way to earning a Ph.D. from the prestigious Ivy League school.
What makes her story even more amazing is the fact that she is a mother with two young daughters, Carolina and Alexandra.
“It can be tough getting homework done, but I’ve managed to do okay,” she said. “My husband and I have gotten a lot of help from our family, and my mother-in-law is our regular babysitter.”
Mooney spent her summer working at a fellowship for the Bayer Corporation in Pittsburgh. She would eventually like to work in a government research lab or teach.
“I’m keeping my options open,” she said. Options are one thing that won’t be in short supply.
Hometown: La Crescent, Minn.
Major: Liberal Studies
Katy Denny loves to travel. “It’s a big world, and I’d like to see all of it,” she said.
Her travels have already taken her to England three times, and to Portugal, Malta, Sicily, and Cyprus. She travels with her mother, who lives in England and works as a jeweler. Traveling the coast of Portugal was her favorite.
“I’d like to teach in a foreign country,” Katy said.
When not traveling, Katy enjoys sports, playing hackey sack with her friends, and hanging out with her dad. Majoring in liberal studies will allow her to explore a variety of career choices.
“I want to be open-minded to many things,” she said.
When Brittany Lekies was in second grade, she was prescribed glasses. Ever since, her vision of what she would like to do with her life has been 20/20.
Brittany plans to follow her interest into a career in optometry. She would like to have her own family practice clinic where she can develop a close relationship with her patients.
“I think good relationships are important in healthcare,” she said. “Patients need to have someone they can count on and trust. They need to be confident the doctor will do the right thing.”
Brittany also plays the trombone in the Viterbo pep band, participates in intramural volleyball, is an active member of the Bio-Chem and Tri-Beta clubs, and interned at the Family Vision Center in La Crosse.
Eye care has changed a great deal since Brittany was in second grade. Her glasses have now been replaced by Lasik surgery.
When Ashley Sorenson is on the soccer field, her problems disappear.
“Playing the sport I love is a chance for me to get away from everything else,” she said. “It’s where I can escape the day to day hassles.”
Ashley’s love of soccer has brought her a great deal of success. This past season, Ashley was named first team all-conference, first team all-region, and honorable mention all-American. She was the Viterbo Female Athlete of the Year for 2006–07. She also received the NAIA Champions of Character Award, which is given to one member of each team who displays leadership, sportsmanship, and integrity.
The members of the women’s soccer team are a close-knit group, she said. She enjoys the social aspect of being a member of the team. “Team sports are a great way to be introduced to the school, meet people, and learn leadership and conflict resolution skills,” she said.
When not busy with athletics, Ashley attends Mass regularly, and participates in Franciscan Friends, a friendship program that pairs a Viterbo student and a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. She is pursuing a career in dentistry.
Hometown: Blantyre, Malawi, Africa
Kartick Patel enjoys helping his community and other people, a direct reflection of what he would like to do after graduation.
“I want to go to medical school and become a physician,” he said. “Surgeons are in very short supply in Malawi, and I’d love to go back and help.”
Kartick discovered Viterbo through his cousin, who attended the university in 2002. It appealed to him because it is a Catholic school where he’d get the opportunity to help in the community.
Very involved on campus, Kartick is serving as the president of the Student Government Association, the co-president of the Tri-Beta biology honor society, and is the former president
of Global Rhythms, a campus club for international students.
This international student has some advice for fellow students. “Travel to a different country and experience a different life and culture,” he said.
Major: Business Management
Kristina Smaby has spent much of the past two years as a community ambassador and a role model for young women everywhere.
Kristina was Miss Holmen 2005 and Miss La Crosse Oktoberfest 2006. She finished in the top ten at her first appearance at Miss Wisconsin, even winning the Spirit of Miss America Award, which is voted upon by the contestants. In 2006 she placed in the top ten once again.
She performs the dance style ballet en pointe for her talent and her platform is Connecting Generations.
“When I was 15, my grandfather came to live with my family,” she said of selecting the subject for her platform. “I developed a really meaningful connection with him.”
When not busy with speeches, parades, and the other responsibilities of being Miss La Crosse Oktoberfest, Kristina teaches dance at Misty’s Dance Unlimited in Onalaska. She also enjoys scrapbooking.
“I like to have my plate full and challenge myself,” she said.
Major: Master of Business Administration
For Ed Johnson, education is much more than a means to an end.
“I believe strongly in education,” said Ed, the vice president of sales and marketing for Northern Engraving, who already holds two undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree. “You don’t stop learning with a degree. I want to keep myself current. At work, if you stop growing, you start to plateau. And I enjoy school and being in that environment.”
Johnson chose Viterbo’s MBA program because of the flexibility the program offers and because of the university’s solid reputation. He quickly enjoyed the course’s open atmosphere and the close relationship with his fellow students.
When not at work or school, Johnson enjoys spending time with his family, being active in his church and community, water skiing, snow skiing, and fishing.
“Self accountability, doing your best, and continuing to grow in knowledge and experience,” Johnson answered when asked what he is passionate about.
Hometown: Qing Dao, China
Alan Zhang comes from a “small town” in China—a small town of 6,000,000.
“Living here is a big change,” Zhang said. “I like it. There is more space, fewer people, and everyone is nice. I also like the weather, and there is not as much pollution.”
Zhang learned of Viterbo from Jon Kerrigan, a teacher in China and the son of Viterbo’s vice president for communications and marketing, Pat Kerrigan.
Like many students, Zhang enjoys playing basketball and watching movies. American movies have special meaning for him, because that’s where he learned English.
Zhang is studying to be a pharmacist. When he is finished, he’d like to live in the United States, but that doesn’t exclude his desire to return home to China for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
“I’m really excited for the Olympics in Beijing,” he said. “It will give the world a chance to know China.”
Major: Biochemistry with an emphasis in Pre-med
Rachael Johnson started playing golf when she was five years old. Now, she plays the sport she loves as a member of the Viterbo golf team.
“I started playing with my dad,” she said. “I love golf, and I wanted to play competitively. Plus, it’s a great atmosphere and a great way to meet people.”
In addition to golf, she enjoys reading, going to the pool, and working at Cedar Creek Country Club in Onalaska. Both her family and her faith are very important to her.
Rachael plans to pursue a career as an ophthalmologist.
“I had lazy eye when I was little, and ended up having surgery when I was in the seventh grade,” she said. “I was inspired.”
Major: Nursing and Spanish
For Ismelda Reyes, who is the first person in her family to attend college, majoring in nursing and Spanish is the perfect way to help people.
“Spanish is a good thing to know in the nursing field,” she said. “I can help two communities at the same time.”
Ismelda came to the United States from El Salvador when she was in the sixth grade, so Spanish is her native language. The Spanish classes are easier for her than the average student, but grammar is still challenging.
In addition to school, she enjoys being outdoors, going for walks, and biking. She misses home, but she’d like to live in the La Crosse area and work as a nurse in a maternity unit.
Major: Broad Field Social Studies with Teaching Certification
Travis Bassett has always loved history and geography. He even won his middle school geography bee three years in a row.
“I had an amazing teacher in middle school, Mr. Juris, who inspired me,” said Bassett, who plans to be a teacher. “I want to be like him.”
He has been extremely busy during his career at Viterbo, serving as the president of the Student Government Association and as an active member of campus ministry, the Rugby Club, and the College Democrats. He also plays the drums in the band Duct Tape Heroes.
One of his most important projects has been working as a volunteer with Operation: Riverwatch, an organization of students who patrol La Crosse’s Riverside Park in an effort to prevent future alcohol-related drownings.
“It was an awesome example of citizens seeing a need and stepping up,” he said.
Hometown: Rochester, Minn.
Growing up on a dairy farm near Rochester, Minn., Portia Holtegaard developed a love for animals, so much so, she plans to make helping them her career.
“I’ve always loved animals,” she said. “And farming has taught me so much. I want to give something back to the dairy industry.”
Portia plans to be a large animal veterinarian, meaning she will treat horses and cows. Horses have a special meaning for her, conjuring up fond childhood memories when she spent a good deal of time riding them.
In her spare time, she volunteers at the La Crosse County Humane Society, cleaning kennels and socializing with the animals in the effort to make them more adoptable.
“I was surprised at the number of animals that come into the shelter, but I was even more surprised at the number that are adopted,” she said. “The Humane Society does a great job.”
Year: Graduated in May
Cassie Slagle has lofty goals. She plans to become a doctor, preferably a pediatrician or an obstetrician-gynecologist.
“I like helping people,” she said. “I like babies, and I plan to have my own kids. I think babies are a miracle.”
Cassie enjoys helping people and plans to volunteer with AmeriCorps for a year before attending medical school. She has been extremely active on campus during her career at Viterbo, participating in a number of campus clubs and organizations.
She was the president of the Bio-Chem Club, participating in many service projects, including the Adopt-a-Highway clean-up project.
“My family and friends are very important to me,” she said. “They have always been there for me.”
Major: Bachelor of Individualized Study with an emphasis in business
If it were up to Colleen Cudo, sign language would be offered alongside Spanish as a foreign language in America’s high schools.
“Sign language is the third most used language in the world,” she said.
Colleen works part-time as a sign language interpreter and full-time at Western Technical College in La Crosse. She would eventually like to teach and own her own sign language business.
“Sign language interpreters really develop a close bond with their clients,” she said.
Being a sign language interpreter can be a very rewarding field, she said, especially when she is able to communicate emotions or something difficult and her client “gets it.”
“I enjoy helping people,” she said.