Outstanding UW-Green Bay Student Award recipient Kara Baugrud: ‘I got a degree and so much more’

As an athlete, student, mentor and Christian, Kara Baugrud, the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Student Award, feels her journey at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has helped her develop a love for learning, and a love for leading.

Baugrud will graduate this year with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and a minor in Spanish. An accomplished soccer player, Baugrud received a varsity letter for athletics in Spring 2018, and was class captain of the women’s soccer team during her freshman and sophomore years on the team. While injury sidelined her participation on the team, it did not hinder her from participating in Athletes in Action, a faith-based organization for athletes.

As a leader in Athletes in Action, Baugrud has worked to mentor other athletes in their journey of faith, organizing Bible studies every Wednesday night for women athletes. Baugrud said her involvement in the group has helped her to both grow as a leader and to help others grow as leaders as well.

An exceptional student, Baugrud has consistently earned honors and high honors throughout her academic career. During her time at UW-Green Bay, Baugrud also worked as a student-athlete tutor, and maintained employment at a local Planet Fitness. She used her soccer abilities to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, playing soccer with the children there. At Spring Lake Church, Baugrud served as a volunteer in the nursery.

Baugrud says her time at the University helped her to realize what she wants to accomplish after graduation. Involvement in the Health Science Club and the Advanced Microbiology class motivated her participation with the Tiny Earth initiative — a student-focused crowdsourcing project that seeks to find antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses. Started at Yale University by Jo Handelsman, and further developed by Handelsman at UW-Madison, the Tiny Earth project brings together a network of instructors and students to work in concert with one another to build and maintain a database of information for use by scientists for generations to come.

“Being a part of this nationwide crowdsourcing effort has been exciting and incredibly important,” Baugard says. “The Tiny Earth initiative is a program determined to find new antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses. This program has brought incredible value not only to my experience here at UW-Green Bay, but to my experience as a Human Biology student in the United States. To be a part of such a huge crowdsourcing effort has been rewarding to say the least. I am thrilled to continue on this journey through the rest of the semester.”

Her educational experiences, she says, have helped her to become a lifelong learner and truly value the gift of education.

“When I think about myself as a freshman, I picture a younger woman looking to get good grades and move on to the next thing,” she says. “Now, I have grown to know that this institution grants us so much more than that. I am blessed to have developed a love for learning and a passion for sharing knowledge with others. This is something I hope to carry on to the next adventure in my life, knowing that I received the extraordinary gift from my time here at UW-Green Bay.”

And she says she will value also the treasured relationships she developed with her professors, a gift she says she hopes to share with others.

“One of the most rewarding parts of my educational experience has been all of the relationships I’ve made with many of the faculty. I know without a doubt that I can go to many of these now lifelong friends for advice or just to catch up and talk about things. These professors have enabled me to dive into the material and they have pushed me to become a better learner day by day,” she says. “I am eager to advise anyone who asks that they should keep this University in mind when deciding where to go. My younger brother, in fact, has been looking at schools for a little while now and I’ve taken him around the University just so I could give him concrete examples of all of the classes, places and atmospheres that I love.”


Reflection of a student/soldier: UW-Green Bay alumna Misti Brosig ’18

Part citizen/student, part soldier.

(Pictured) UW-Green Bay alumnae Misti Brosig serves as a model for a striking photo taken last year showing both sides of Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) students and all students in active military as they both train and work toward completion of their college degree.

As Veteran’s Day approaches, UW-Green Bay honors its active military and veterans with a week’s worth of activity including the Chancellor’s Veteran Reception, on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 at 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Brosig is now a commissioned officer, Second Lieutenant, serving active duty in the United States Army. The Casper, Wyoming native came to the Green Bay area with an associates degree and eventually decided the time was right to further both her education and take a step toward active service.

“There are a few paths to becoming an officer, and I found it best that ROTC would be able to get me able to commission as soon as I completed my degree and I could begin my career,” she explains. “I wanted to serve for so many years. I am an extremely proud American and I wanted a career where I knew I would love what I do every single day… in an organization that would constantly challenge me to be a better me. Every day is a privilege to put on this uniform. I am continuously learning, given great opportunities, and serve with some of America’s finest.”

Being an officer in training meant balancing an ROTC schedule that included class once a week, a lab once a week and physical fitness classes three mornings a week, with her degree requirements in Business Administration, which she completed in 2018.

From her home base in Fort Stewart, Georgia, she looks back on her UW-Green Bay experience, fondly.

“You learn to be a leader as well as basic soldiering skills. ROTC is a avenue for all officers, whether they wish to be active, guard or reserves. My time in the ROTC program at UW-Green Bay with St. Norbert College, was fantastic. The program sets a high standard and consistently made me a better leader as well as a person. The leadership from the instructors is great. Overall, my favorite part is the camaraderie that I built with my peers.”

UW-Green Bay supports 368 veterans at four campus locations. In total, 514 students, including veterans, their children and spouses, receive veteran benefits at the campuses. Some of the planned Veterans Week activities:

  • Monday, Nov. 12, 2018: Chancellor’s Veteran Reception at 4 p.m., Phoenix Rooms, UW-Green Bay’s University Union
  • Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018: Veteran Brunch from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Veteran and Service Member Student Lounge, Mary Ann Cofrin Hall Room 227
  • Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018: Veteran Employment Workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1965 Room, UW-Green Bay’s University Union
  • Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018: Ruck March at 2 p.m., Veteran and Service Member Student Lounge, Mary Ann Cofrin Hall Room 227
  • Friday, Nov. 16, 2018: Veteran Benefit Forum from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Phoenix Rooms, UW-Green Bay’s University Union
  • ROTC will be raising and lowering the flag on campus and playing taps at 6:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day during Veterans Week

 Photo by Parker Fuller


Jake Ambrosius '17 and Kailee Smits '18 at General Mills

General Mills serves ‘Breakfast of Champions’ and more to these UW-Green Bay alumni

General Mills, Inc., is a powerhouse company that produces some of the most recognizable food brands in the nation. And now they have two powerhouse employees — recent UW-Green Bay alumni Jake Ambrosius ’17 and Kailee Smits ’18.

Jake Ambrosius '17 and Kailee Smits '18 at General Mills
Jake Ambrosius ’17 and Kailee Smits ’18

Home to popular cereals such as Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Wheaties, along with pantry staples like Betty Crocker, Nature Valley and Progresso, this international company with its base in Minneapolis, Minn., has the two UW-Green Bay Business Administration graduates rolling up their sleeves and digging in to the mealtime favorites and the company that makes them.

“I enjoy working with the products that I love and grew up with,” Ambrosius says, “These are all things that I loved to eat growing up, and still do, and I like to be able to say that I work for the company that makes these products.”

“I really enjoy the people and culture of General Mills. Everyone here is so welcoming and encouraging and you can really tell that they enjoy their job,” Smits says.

As a customer operations specialist, Ambrosius works directly with customers from the time they submit an order to the time they are invoiced with it. Through this position, he works with many facets of the company that directly correlate to a customer placing an order. Smits works as a talent acquisition assistant, where she is responsible for bringing candidates onsite to interview for a variety of different roles, from entry level finance to vice president positions.

From UW-Green Bay to General Mills

For both Ambrosius and Smits, making the decision to attend UW-Green Bay was easy. Ambrosius notes that UW-Green Bay provided “a smooth transition,” coming from a small town, and with the smaller class sizes, it was “an environment I was a little more used to,” he says. Smits remembers falling in love with UW-Green Bay when she came to tour the campus. “The campus was beautiful, the people were friendly and the classes were the perfect size for me. I knew that is where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.”

UW-Green Bay provided the perfect environment for them to flourish in, and they would both go on to become business majors. The Austin E. Cofrin School of Business helped prepare the two business students for what to expect after graduation.

Ambrosius shares that one of his favorite classes during his time at UW-Green Bay was his business computer applications class, saying that, “Since graduating, I have not come across anyone with a job in the business field that does not use Microsoft Office in some capacity, daily. It is becoming more and more necessary to know how to use those programs.” Ambrosius also says that UW-Green Bay’s Career Services helped him immensely when it came to preparing for a career post-graduation.

Smits says she owes a thank you to all the group projects and presentations she did for her classes. “I think UW-Green Bay really helped build my confidence in terms of how I conduct myself and my knowledge,” she says, “The business classes are filled with group work and presentations… I really believe that all of the presentations I did helped me with the confidence I needed to land this job at General Mills World Headquarters before I graduated.”

Back to Business

For Ambrosius, the business field is all about possibilities. “The reason I chose to pursue a business degree is because there is business in everything. There will always be plenty of opportunities.”

Smits became a business major by realizing she could combine both of her interests with this degree. “Human resources, in my mind, was a great middle ground of everything that I enjoyed,” Smits, who also majored in Psychology, says, “I got to pull in all of my interests with psychology and apply it to the business world.”

After discovering that business was the right career path for them, they both then went on to obtain internships during their time in college. They say these internship experiences were extremely beneficial and helped shaped their future careers.

“I believe that any student that is going for a business degree should strongly consider an internship,” Ambrosius says, having interned for KBX Logistics and Schreiber during college, “There is so much to learn outside of the classroom, and an internship is a great way to do it.”

“I believe that my internship at Festival Foods was one of the best things I did for myself in college,” Smits says, “The experience I gained from that opportunity really set me up for success.”

Words of Wisdom

Ambrosius advises current UW-Green Bay students, “Do not be afraid to go outside your comfort zone, or to take a position that is not necessarily what you are ‘going for.’ Just because you are a marketing student, does not mean you should only be applying to marketing positions.”

Smits urges students to start testing themselves in the classroom in preparation for what lies ahead, “Learning to be comfortable in a new environment is very important when you get a job out of college. So, go out of your comfort zone, be the person who raises their hand to present first and always be curious and ask questions.”

Story by Marketing and University Communication intern Alicia LeBoeuf

Photos: UW-Green Bay honors most distinguished and outstanding

UW-Green Bay was honored by the return of six distinguished and outstanding alumni who returned to campus Oct. 2, 2018 to accept awards recognizing their contributions to campus, communities and workplace.

This year’s honorees were Daniel Keegan ’72, Sheila Kohl ’96 and ’05 and Doug Wirth ’89, each receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award; and Cordero Barkley ’09 and ’16, Lisa Fay Coutley ’04 and Joshua Kaurich ‘07, recipients of the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award.

Bios for each are available here. The ceremony took place on the Weidner Center stage, with a reception in the newly remodeled Weidner Grand Foyer. Each recipient was given a hand-made award crafted by artist and alumna Barbi Gossens ’03.

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

Alumni Awards 2018

– Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication

UW-Green Bay alumnus, Craig Dickman ’82 named TitletownTech’s Managing Director

TitletownTech has hired Breakthrough Fuel founder and UW-Green Bay alumnus Craig Dickman ’82 (Business Administration) as the innovation center’s managing director. The Green Bay Packers and Microsoft made the joint announcement Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018.

The Packers with Microsoft Corp. announced operational details of the joint venture, with plans to bring world-class digital innovations and expertise to Greater Green Bay. The program and state-of-the-art building located immediately west of Lambeau Field, are to open in early 2019. UW-Green Bay is a partner.

According to a press release by the Packers.com website, three components will drive TitletownTech:

  • An innovation lab, focused on creating new ventures: where entrepreneurs and established regional businesses can engage to develop ideas, explore disruptive new business models and next-generation technology solutions;
  • A venture studio, focused on building ventures: where new and emerging business models and scalable industry solutions are developed into stand-alone startup ventures;
  • A venture fund, focused on funding and investing in high-growth startups aligned with industries in Northeastern Wisconsin that will bring opportunity to the region.

Dickman is highly involved in his alma mater, UW-Green Bay, and has been active in support of campus and community initiatives. His philanthropic pursuits are behind recent upgrades and renovations of the Cofrin Library and its “Breakthrough ® Studio” space and the At Ease Veteran’s Lounge.

Chancellor Gary L. Miller presented Craig Dickman, UW-Green Bay Foundation Board and Council of Trustees member, with the 2015 Chancellor’s Award, the University’s highest community honor.

 Photograph by Evan Siegle, Green Bay Packers

Alumni spotlight: Richard Kendrick enjoys first week (and every day) of school

It’s the first week of school and UW-Green Bay alumnus Richard Kendrick ’08 is excited… When the students return from summer break to Madison Area Technical College, Kendricks’ day kicks into high gear. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kendrick is a mathematics instructor, math adviser and a member of the honors faculty for MATC. It’s safe to say that his students need him.

Madison Area Technical College instructor Richard Kendrick

“Most of the students I deal with come from underrepresented areas within the city,” he says. “The best part of my day is speaking with a student about how to be a successful college student. After all, I was a returning adult student myself. I came from the south side of Madison, which has been given a bad reputation by most. I am enjoying the fact that Madison College is now building a south side campus which will ultimately cater to the residents of the neighborhood.”

Kendrick says he models his mentoring based on some of the faculty and staff at UW-Green Bay, especially as he spends a good majority of his time at MATC’s Student Achievement Center, tutoring math students.

“As far as the faculty that helped me achieve my dream of being a first generation college grad, I give many props to (Professors) Greg Davis and Patricia Terry. For me, it wasn’t always about academics. I felt I could go to them for support in learning how to be a college student, while gaining insight into who I would become after I graduated. I ended up graduating in 2008 as a Mathematics major (Environmental Science minor) with roughly 174 credits; well-rounded to say the least. I enjoyed learning about so many subject areas: computer science, nuclear engineering, materials engineering, and mathematics, to name a few.”

When he wasn’t in the classroom, his peers could likely find him at the Phoenix Sports Center (the predecessor to the Kress Events Center) where he even received an invitation from men’s basketball coach Dick Bennett to try out for the team as a walk-on. He also spent some time in the Phoenix Club, managing to garner a few recreational billiards championships.

In spring of last year, Kendrick returned to campus for a visit.

“My impression of the campus now is, WOW, how things have changed! I have definitely gotten older,” he joked.

He describes his job as his calling. “I enjoy waking up every day to come into work,” he says.  Seeing the advancement of his students as they work towards graduation is his greatest reward.

“It is so amazing to learn that some students who started their math classes with me have completed their degrees. I have written numerous reference letters to date for my students. The last day of classes, I always give out my business card just in case they made need anything else to advance their careers.

And he is likely to share his favorite quote… “It is not what you know when you get here, it is what you know when you leave.”

Photos by MATC graphic designer Matthew Ammerman



McLean Moves Customers from ‘Have to…’ to ‘Want to…’

If an undergraduate degree in psychology seems an odd foundation for a successful career as entrepreneur and business owner, you only have to meet Steve McLean ‘91 to learn its logic.

McLean is co-founder and partner of Wild Blue Technologies, Inc., based in De Pere, Wis. He describes the company as “a strategic experiential design firm” that helps make the retail shopping experience something customers want to do, rather than have to do. The company’s clients are predominantly international Fortune 500 consumer goods businesses, the companies who make the products we consume or use every day.

“Psychology helps us understand what differentiates an enjoyable experience from a run-of-the-mill experience,” said McLean. “We have a good understanding of the inputs that affect behavior, so we work hard to design the experience we want our clients’ customers to have. And that experience can be in the physical or digital space, so we have to consider everything that goes into that experience.

“Our clients know that retail commerce is changing as shoppers blend online and brick-and-mortar options, and they know they need to adapt, to be on the lookout for ‘what’s next’ in their product category and then be the first to bring that to customers.”

To make that happen, Wild Blue Technologies focuses its eclectic team of employees on the client’s total customer experience. That might start with the typical elements of a brand: a logo or a color palette, selection of a font, design of a product package or signage, and evaluation of the way a product is displayed on a shelf.

And then the team takes it one more step: It creates the entire purchasing experience under the roofs of its sprawling, 50,000-square-foot studios in De Pere. This allows clients to evaluate everything from their customers’ perspective. Often that means building prototypes that can be placed in a retail store, where team members can observe consumer behavior. Sometimes it means creating a virtual-reality store, where shoppers can experience a number of prototypes before time and money are spent on the real-world models.

Creating that experience involves artists, designers, writers, carpenters, model makers, animators, engineers, code writers and virtual-reality experts. Every one of the company’s 60 employees team contributes to every client’s project in some way, which brings diversity of thought, experience and professional perspective to every challenge.

The result gives Wild Blue Technologies’ clients a tangible proof of concept where they can see, hear and feel a potential solution, just as their customers would. That experience brings the strategy to life in a way that even the most effective hard-copy, two-dimensional presentation cannot. As a result, clients feel more comfortable investing in the solution, confident that it will help their customers will feel more engaged while exploring their products.

“One of the most helpful courses at UWGB was Psychology and Human Development,” McLean recalled. “It was fertile ground for questioning the status quo. The thing that probably sticks most, and that I still leverage frequently is the architecture of a research study and fundamental understanding of scientific method. The ability to identify and isolate variables within a study methodology is a very helpful bit of knowledge when we conduct or assess consumer research.”

And there you have it: Human psychology at work in the world of the entrepreneur and businessman.

McLean, who grew up in Marinette, Wis., did not set out to become a business owner, but he wanted to avoid student loan debt while securing his college education, so he worked full-time at a local printing company while he attended UW-Green Bay. He was headed toward graduate studies in Psychology when his employer made him an offer almost any struggling student would take.

“They liked my work and offered me the opportunity to work for them in a project estimating role while I sorted out my graduate school options,” he said. “I wound up staying for several years.

“One day in late 1998, I was talking with a friend of mine who owned a business in downtown Green Bay. He had an idea to bring digital printing technology to the production of large-format imaging, the kind you see in big stores and museums,” McLean continued. “I could see the potential for the idea because it significantly reduced the cost of production and retained a high level of quality. We started Wild Blue Technologies on the third floor above his business to sell that service.”

As those client relationships grew, McLean’s role evolved from purveyor of the product to strategic partner, offering his clients insights into ways their customers’ shopping trips could be transformed from routine, commodity-based transactions to pleasant, personalized shopping experiences. He also began to help them see where digital technology could be applied to their businesses.

His original partner eventually moved on to other interests and McLean connected with Will Van Epern. Today, they share part of the client service responsibilities for major accounts and contribute to other team members’ client challenges and assignments.

“Often our ideas and strategies are intended as future thinking,” McLean said, “providing our clients with a perspective of how retail experiences and shopper behaviors might evolve in the coming years.  While we may not activate these ideas in scale in the near term, we test and learn so we are prepared for what is next.”

McLean advises today’s students to retain that sense of curiosity about the world, no matter where they spend their careers.

“UW-Green Bay initially appealed to me for it’s pragmatic aspects,” he said. “It was local, offered the course of study that interested me and enabled me to work full time. Those were criteria that seemed important to me at that time.”

“The wiser, older me would advise that selecting a college should include a negotiation of your personal balance of natural and unfamiliar. I’ve always felt that there are very few seminal life thresholds where we have the opportunity to re-imagine ourselves and the sense of self we communicate to others. Starting college is probably the most dynamic and abiding threshold opportunity. I’d ask myself if I can envision the next phase of me in this place. Will it be suitably and significantly different from experiences I’ve already had, while not being so foreign that that I’m distracted from my goals?”

“In the long run,” he said, “you have to do what interests you to sustain yourself, and you have to stay curious about the world.”

“Being in business for yourself is as demanding as it is rewarding,” he observed. “I have been fortunate to have a very supportive family and inspiring co-workers. All of us here enjoy using our creativity to impact the experiences of people in our community. To do that, we need to be observant of the world around us, well rounded in our knowledge about things, and to stay interested and curious about almost everything. It’s not enough to just know your discipline; you have to have a toolbox of capabilities in whatever you do.”

Story by freelance writer Jim Streed ’05. Photos submitted by Steve McLean.



Julia Shariff standing in front of the Medical College of Wisconsin building sign

First Class: UW-Green Bay and MCW Green Bay grad can’t wait to begin ‘paying it forward’ in her hometown

Julia Shariff in cap and gown at graduation
Julia Shariff on graduation day

“Surreal” and “emotional” are words used by newly titled, Dr. Julia Shariff ’15 (Human Biology and Spanish) as she described her graduation ceremony from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Green Bay campus in June of 2018.

Shariff is the first UW-Green Bay graduate to be accepted into the newly formed medical college; and a member of the first class of graduates from the MCW Green Bay campus. For this Green Bay native, the ceremony represents the culmination of years of hard work, perseverance and unfaltering campus and community support.

Now she’s one step closer to returning the favor and caring for those who have unselfishly supported her.

The best decision

Julia’s senior year at Southwest High School in Green Bay piqued her interest in medicine. Nearing graduation, she toured a number of colleges throughout the state, including UW-Green Bay. “It just clicked,” says Shariff, “I felt really comfortable,” and she learned that the Human Biology program would help her explore her options in medicine — whether as a pre-med student or another path. It felt like home.

Upon enrolling at UW-Green Bay, her enthusiasm for Human Biology, including the classes and encouragement from professors drove her to take the pre-med path. “Once I started, I realized how strong the department was,” says Shariff. “They provided the classes and tools available for pre-med students, and a tremendous amount of academic support.” Passionate, hands-on professors, who are dedicated to their students created a learning environment that helped Shariff thrive.

Reflecting on her years at UW-Green Bay, it clearly was “…one of the best decisions I’ve made, academically.”

New campus, hometown support

As Julia neared her final semesters at UW-Green Bay, the Medical College of Wisconsin was finalizing their plans to partner with both UW-Green Bay and St. Norbert College for their satellite campus, housed at the St. Norbert College campus in De Pere. Shariff explored a number of medical school options in the Midwest and the east coast and decided to interview with the brand new MCW-Green Bay campus. The pull of her hometown, and most importantly the support she would receive while enduring the rigors of medical school, made the decision to explore this new, local option an easy one. When her acceptance letter from MCW-Green Bay arrived, she knew she had made another excellent choice. Having her grandfather, Faculty Emeritus Ismail Shariff (Economics) on campus, couldn’t hurt. (See the feature on Prof. Shariff and his legacy at UWGB.)

Julia Shariff with Bellin's Bart Miller in Spring 2015
Julia Shariff with Bellin’s Bart Miller in Spring 2015

Being a part of the inaugural class of this brand-new regional medical school, Julia was both excited and nervous. A new environment, a brand-new program… She wasn’t sure how things would go, and yet knew she and her new classmates would make the program their own. She credits her outstanding academic preparation from UW-Green Bay for making her feel confident in those first weeks and months at MCW-Green Bay. “You’re never fully prepared for the workload (of medical school,)” says Shariff. “But I felt very prepared academically.”

In fact, one of the most enjoyable parts of medical school at the MCW Green Bay campus was its “newness.” Shariff enjoyed the influence that her inaugural class had on the campus. “We really had to take the reins and help to create the campus from the ground up,” she says. Providing feedback, creating student organizations and creating an atmosphere of support for classmates and families was a large part of her medical school experience. “As one speaker said at graduation, ‘we experienced life together’ and that bonds you, especially during the difficult times.”

The supportive atmosphere helped students succeed. At the spring matching ceremony, where each final-year medical student is “matched” with the hospital where they will do their residency, all students were successfully matched. 100%. Not bad for a completely new medical school in a sports-crazy Northeast Wisconsin town.

Rooted in Wisconsin

In July, Julia begins her three-year residency program at Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, with focus in internal medicine. “I have always believed that life presents itself to you and shows you your path in different ways,” says Shariff, and she remains open to the possibilities that her medical career may provide. The program at Gunderson offers flexibility to explore the many different medical specialties, which allows Shariff to keep her options open. She has already considered a fellowship in endocrinology, which would be another 2-4 years.

Regardless of her final choice, she definitely wants to stay in the area. “We are very aware of the physician shortage in our state,” states Shariff, and hopes her and her classmates will have an impact on that shortage. All graduates from the MCW-Green Bay campus are completing their residency programs either in the state of Wisconsin or the near Midwest region. “I honestly wouldn’t trade the support and education that I’ve had for anything, and wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of people from UW-Green Bay and MCW and the Green Bay community,” says Shariff. “I feel a big responsibility to pay it forward to both campuses and hopefully can come back and thank people for the support that I’ve received.”

She’s already begun. When asked about advice that she’d give to all students as they make decisions on what to do after high school; “Be open to be inspired,” says Shariff, “the capacity of your mind and resilience is so much more than we think it is, and we can be our worst enemy. If you think for one second, ‘I think I can do this,’ hold onto that thought. That’s so much more powerful than anything else.”

Story by Kristin Bouchard ’93. MCW photos submitted by Holly Botsford

Mary Gallagher

UW-Green Bay Theatre alumna has stand-up date on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Gallagher also looks forward to Fox TV Pilot with ‘Empire’ star Howard

Late night, get laughing! Mary Gallagher ’90 (Theatre) will be doing stand up comedy on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Friday, May 18. She also has a pilot show set to air on May 24 on Fox, starring with Terrence Howard, the Academy Award-nominated actor from the movie Hustle & Flow, and star of Fox television’s Empire.

Gallagher’s appearance on Stephen Colbert is her first comedy gig on the national stage, but it’s certainly not her first appearance on a stage. She’s been doing comedy, and acting, since she graduated from UW-Green Bay in 1990.

“After college I went to The Second City [a nationally renown school of improvisation and sketch comedy] in Chicago and studied improv,” Gallagher says. “I always thought I would just be a Midwestern stage actor, living in Chicago or Minneapolis. But at The Second City, I met Michael Markowitz, the comedy genius behind the movie “Horrible Bosses.” We became friends, and I followed him out to Los Angeles.”

In Los Angeles, Gallagher continued to hone her comedic skills with comedy classes and by joining improv and comedy groups — people that were both supportive and critical. Mary says, “I have built an amazing network of people who continue to help me…fellow stand-ups who share jokes and people who provide me with honest opinions and feedback. I actually like hearing criticism. It helps me grow and become better. I have a thick skin…well at least professionally; personally may or may not be another story,” she adds with a chuckle. “So I can handle it.”

After performing for improv groups the first few years in LA, Gallagher wondered if she could do a solo comedic act. So she tried it, and liked it. It took a lot of work, a lot of practice, and a lot of courage. “When I first walked up on stage to do stand up, it felt like I was jumping out of a plane,” Mary explains. “I was scared. But I just kept doing it until I wasn’t scared any more.” She took the LA standup comedy scene by storm. She performed up to four nights a week, plus hosted The Hollywood Improv. She performed everywhere she could: Comedy clubs, open mics, shows in bars, shows in restaurants, shows in recovery centers (AA), at churches, outside in back yards, even at a blood drive at a hospital.

“You name it,” Mary says.  I’ve done comedy everywhere.”

Then she stopped.

“I took a break from stand up, a 10-year break to be exact,” Mary says. I had a daughter and I wanted to raise her without the late nights and pressures of performing. I wanted to be present in her life, make her my priority.”

From The TV Screen To The Big Screen And Everything In Between
Remember, Mary has “thick skin” when it comes to her profession. Good thing, because even though she took a hiatus from stand up to raise her daughter, she continued auditioning for acting roles, as she has done since college. According to Mary, acting is based on rejection. “Thousands of people go after a part, then they call in 40 people for an actual audition, then it goes down to six or seven, and then finally two or three,” Mary explains.

Mary has made it down to that final two or three, and been the number one on more than a few occasions. Her very first acting job was as “Burger Customer #1” on the show “Sister, Sister” in 1995. She has since built her resume with appearances on “Friends” (1996), “Mad About You” (1998), “The West Wing” (2003) the big screen blockbuster “Flight Plan” (2005) with Jodi Foster, “How I Met Your Mother” (2013) “Grey’s Anatomy” (2015), “NCIS” (2016) the “Fameless” TV series (2016-17), and a Lean Cuisine ad campaign. According to Mary, “It’s pure will that allows me to do this…to be an actress. I don’t think I’m particularly all that talented.”

UW-Green Bay Theatre and Professor, Jeff Entwistle, one of Mary’s theatre professors and now close friends, says, “Mary doesn’t realize how much talent it takes to move that will. She has always had such a drive to create her own work and get it on its feet. To write comedy, to create her own material, to get on stage and pull it off, to put yourself out there and act…that’s talent.”

A Pilot Ready for Take Off
Gallagher’s drive has landed her a stand up gig on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on May 18, 2018.  It has also landed her a role on a pilot show on Fox. It’s being aired on May 24, 2018 as a test show, so Mary hopes a lot of people will tune in so it tests well and becomes a series! The title: “Terrence Howard’s Fright Club,” and Mary promises it will be fun and funny. “It’s exciting,” Mary says of the project. “The concept is unique, and it’s chocked full of high-energy escapades and fun…lots of fun.” The show follows Howard’s super fans on what they think is a VIP experience on his remote estate. But instead, they are subjected to things of which their nightmares are made. Literally. “It’s crazy! This is what I love!” Mary says.

From Titletown To Tinseltown – How She Got There
Mary Gallagher was born and raised in Elm Grove, WI and went to Brookfield Central High School. She decided to go to UW-Green Bay because she heard it had an up and coming theatre arts program. “There was a program called Communications and the Arts. I was interested in the “arts” part, and I knew my parents would approve of the “communications” part,” she says.

She had never been in any type of theatre, play or performance before stepping onto the UW-Green Bay campus. “One of my electives was an acting class. As part of the class we had to audition for the university play, which was King Lear. As I was reading the lines with King Lear, who was played by Professor Sherrell (the Theatre Chair at the time), I felt like I was speaking to my own father. It was at that moment I realized that I can always relate something in my life in the arts, and acting allowed me to play that “something” out.”

She auditioned for the part of Cordelia. She didn’t get that lead role, but she was the understudy and played Cordelia’s nurse/attendant.

“Mary has a positive presence,” says Prof. Jeff Entwistle (Theatre and Dance). “She always seeks out people and places from which to continue to learn, and she is also so willing, and able, to share her knowledge and what she has learned. She is a driving force behind creating original work, but she also collaborates beautifully,” he concludes.

Mary credits her continued success to the encouragement and support from her professors at UW-Green Bay. “When I was at UWGB there were two people whose encouragement still helps me today,” Mary says. “Professor Raymond Gabica, Jr. (who moved from UW-Green Bay to Western Illinois University) was so important in my growth as an artist. I would say he was the first “artistic” mentor I ever had. Ray has a great gift to take students and make them feel like they have just entered a new family in the theatre. I adore him.”

“The other person is Jeff Entwistle, as well as his wife, Donna. I wouldn’t have believed as much in myself without Professor Entwistle’s constant pride behind me. Every time I was on TV or did a film, there would be a “Congratulations!” from the Entwistle’s. When I was first on TV – on the show “Friends” – they were so excited for me!  They know everything I have ever done and have been behind me every step of the way encouraging and celebrating my career. They have also been there for me on very personal level. Jeff is such an inspiration, and he and his wife are who I model myself after coming out of Green Bay.”

Gallagher also acknowledges her parents, who are both ex-Marines. “They are the strongest people I know,” she says. “I am so grateful for the strength, confidence, and perseverance they’ve instilled in me. But I’m most grateful for their ceaseless love and support.”

Being Present in the Present
Through all the ups and downs and highs and lows, Gallagher has learned to be present in the moment. “The stories of how actors struggle are real,” Mary says. “But you have to decide your fate.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to be present. I don’t ever want to miss experiencing THIS. This opportunity to act. This moment to do stand up. This chance to be courageous and creative. It’s a gift of which I am very, very thankful, and I’m going to experience it all to the fullest.”

Gallagher will get her moment on May 18. The Late Show airs on CBS at 11:35 p.m. Eastern/10:35 p.m. Central Time.

Terrence Howard’s Fright Club” is on the Fox Television network. The pilot episode airs on Thursday, May, 2018, at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central.

Q & A With Mary Gallagher:

When is the last time you were star struck?
When I had to bring Jerry Seinfeld to the stage.

What set was the most fun to be on?
An NBC pilot where Rob Reiner played my father-in-law. Rob Reiner! The show never aired, but I learned so much from him.

Who would you want to collaborate with? One what?
Adam Sandler. Writing and producing. My writing partner and I just pitched a movie to his company Happy Madison. After I met him, he then he allowed me to bring my daughter to the set of “ Conan” when he was on, so she could meet him. She was bouncing up and down on her tiptoes while talking to him, she was so excited! We just love him.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?
When my comedy partner (1990 UW-Green Bay Theatre grad Amy Ketchum-Holterman) and I opened for Pauly Shore and Sam Kinison. It was not the right audience for two young women doing comedy! There were a lot of men hecklers asking us to show them things…and it wasn’t our comedic skills! But we made it through. It was then that I realized if I could get through THAT, I could get through anything.

What’s your biggest accomplishment (besides your daughter)?
Getting my stand up on Stephen Colbert!

What’s the main difference between Green Bay and LA?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. People are people wherever you are.

Feature by freelance writer Kim Viduski ’92

Photo by sascha knopf photography, www.knopfoto.com

Earth Caretaker

Photos: Alumnus McLaughlin recognized as Earth Caretaker

UW-Green Bay’s Environmental Management Business Institute (EMBI) recognized UW-Green Bay alumnus Douglas McLaughlin ’83 and ‘85, recently, as the ninth recipient of the Earth Caretaker Award. The award recognized his work on projects related to characterizing and improving wastewater quality, which led to several studies designed to better understand and reduce concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in mill wastewater in the Fox River. McLaughlin accepted the award Thursday (April 19, 2018) during a joint EMBI and Alumni Association reception held in the University Union.

McLaughlin is a principal research scientist at the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI), a non-profit environmental research organization funded by the forest products industry. He is based near Kalamazoo, Michigan where he provides scientific expertise and research that address questions affecting surface water quality and management.

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

Earth Caretaker 2018
– Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication