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Alumni Profiles

The Sky's the Limit | A Glimpse of What is Possible | Positive About Minnesota | On the Fast Track to Success | A Homerun for Creativity

UMD alumni are leaders and lifelong learners. They demonstrate that education doesn’t end with a degree and they make remarkable contributions to their professions and communities.

THE SKY'S THE LIMIT

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When Anne (McCarthy) Dutton (’84) was close to completing her graduate degree in English at UMD, she began looking for a job. One of her professors, Ken Risdon, suggested that she look into technical writing. “He said that there was a need for technical writers, and that employers can teach you the technology, but they can’t teach you how to write,” Dutton recalled. Soon after, Dutton landed a job at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Marietta, Ga. That job turned into a career, and that was 21 years ago.

Since that time, Dutton has worked her way up from writing and editing flight and maintenance manuals, to the global sustainment division where she manages support contracts for C130 aircraft with such clients as Great Britain’s Royal Air Force and the Israeli Air Force. Dutton coordinates engineering updates, modifications, maintenance, and repairs.

To learn the aeronautics industry, Dutton turned to other employees to mentor her. Lockheed Martin encourages mentoring among its employees. “One of my mentors was a retired Navy pilot, a colonel. I wanted insights into the military point of view. It was a development area that I needed work in,” she said.

Dutton had a woman mentor when she started out. “Her help was invaluable. I needed to pay that back,” she said. Dutton is now mentoring two women employees. “I try to be a support to them and be a sounding board. It’s still a challenge to be a female in a male-dominated industry.”

Dutton believes wholeheartedly in higher education. “Graduate school prepared me for the focused, intense work I do at Lockheed. I discovered I was prepared to handle this larger corporate entity. I didn’t know I was prepared, but I was.”

In 2002, she earned a second master’s degree, this time in project management. “The more education you get formally, the more confident you are,” Dutton said.

 

A GLIMPSE OF WHAT IS POSSIBLE

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Linh Nguyen Scally (’11) counsels individuals in Grand Rapids, Minn., who are struggling with the dual diagnoses of mental illness and chemical dependency. In her work, Scally draws upon all she learned in UMD’s master’s of social work (MSW) program. She also draws upon lessons she learned when it seemed as if there was only one person in the world who still believed in her.

Scally, her parents, and siblings came to the United States from Vietnam when she was seven years old. They lived in New Orleans for a time. Then, in search of a better life, they moved to Duluth, and while crime and violence were no longer a part of her everyday life, Scally had to face a new daily assault – one of racism and discrimination.

In her Duluth classrooms, Scally was the only minority student. “There wasn’t the awareness of other cultures then,” she said. And while she doesn’t describe teachers as being mean, she noted, “It was more a case of neglect, of pretending I wasn’t there, and not addressing problems.”
Learning English as a second language was difficult, and writing did not come easily for her. She began to skip school and when she did attend, she wasn’t always “there.” Eventually, she began to abuse alcohol and drugs.

By the time she reached high school, Scally admitted, “I was struggling.” That’s when her high school counselor, Eugene Powers, became her mentor. “He provided a lot of guidance. He believed in me. At that point, he was the only one that did.” With his help, Scally graduated from high school.

She obtained her manicurist license and worked in her parents’ nail salon while she attended Itasca Community College. Because she didn’t score well on the entrance exam, she had to take prerequisite courses. “I had a lot of great teachers,” she said. “I started getting good grades.” Mr. Powers’ degree in social work peaked Scally’s interest. Eventually she transferred to Bemidji State University and graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in chemical dependency.

Soon after being accepted into UMD’s MSW program, she learned about the Diversity of Views and Experience (DOVE) scholarship. Her narrative statement and support from faculty and staff, who recognized her accomplishments and her commitment to serving vulnerable members of society, resulted in her receiving a full scholarship. Additional financial assistance from the Department of Social Work lightened Scally’s financial load. “I really appreciated all of the help I received,” she said. “It was wonderful to be in graduate school and not have it be a financial burden.”

When Scally speaks of her career, she is realistic. She doesn’t talk about changing the world, but she does talk about making a difference. “I can’t change someone who doesn’t want to be changed, but for those who do, I can start where they are at and work with them,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s important to give someone just a glimpse of what is possible: ‘why don’t you look at this?’ not ‘you should do this’,” Scally said. “Giving them a choice is empowering them. That’s what happened to me – by choosing to study, I discovered I could learn.”

 

POSITIVE ABOUT MINNESOTA

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Mark Phillips (’73) lives positively. It’s part of the job – and all in a day’s work for Phillips, this year’s recipient of the UMD Center for Economic Development Joel Labovitz Award for Entrepreneurial Vision.

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Phillips as the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in January 2011 to support the economic success of individuals, businesses, and communities by improving opportunities for growth. In partnership with business, industry, education, and governmental organizations, DEED implements the state branding program “Positively Minnesota.”

Phillips believes his work in education and workforce development is particularly important during these economic times – and a positive attitude helps. “We’re doing innovative work that will have a positive impact on Minnesota’s industry and business,” he said.
Phillips knows Minnesota’s business world. He grew up on the Iron Range and worked for Kraus-Anderson Construction, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, Minnesota Power, and Northeast Ventures Corp.

The issues he faces at DEED are complex. Strengthening the alignment between higher education and the workforce is crucial. “DEED needs to look ahead to see where we will lose workers due to retirements and where new employers will need skilled replacement workers. Investing in education at all levels is one of the best economic development tools we have.”

Public-private economic and workforce development partnerships are well underway. The state of Minnesota, the Greater Twin Cities United Way, and the Minnesota Workforce Council Association with Joyce Foundation support are partnering to help some of the 2 million Minnesotans without  postsecondary credentials get jobs. “The FastTRAC project coordinates occupational training, certificate programs, and degree programs across the state and matches industries’ needs for trained employees,” he said.  Another way DEED is leveraging its impact is by working with economic development organizations in Duluth, Rochester, the Metro Area, and St. Cloud.

Phillips frames his overarching goal – “to help individuals and businesses thrive in Minnesota” – in the context of Minnesota’s service sector, manufacturing, mining, timber industry, food and food products, computer manufacturing, and the scientific instrument industry.

He also credits UMD with helping him see the global picture. “At UMD, I did an independent study on business communications to complete my degree, and now I’ve come full circle,” he said. That study was with John W. Boyer, labor and industrial relations professor. After receiving his UMD bachelor’s degree in business administration, he completed the Carlson School of Management Minnesota Executive Program.

Phillips met his wife, Patricia Pocrnich (’72, ’90), at UMD and has stayed active with UMD throughout his career. He was a member of the UMD Corporate Partners and a founding board member for the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) Center for Economic Development. He continues to serve on the Advisory Council to LSBE.

 

THE FAST TRACK TO SUCCESS

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Sarah Pollema graduated from UMD in 2003, then entered the Graduate Education in Medical Science program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2004, she began a Ph.D. program at UIC.

Now Pollema is working as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University with goals of obtaining her own research lab. She spends the majority of her time researching. Her particular focus is on various diseases, including Huntington’s disease and chronic pain.

“I would like to be in a full-time research position at a university,” she said. “It’s a very competitive field, though. The whole process seems a little daunting, but I want to get my own lab.”

Pollema could also see herself working in education. “I wouldn’t mind teaching at a small liberal arts college,” she said. There was a time, however, when just going to college seemed far-fetched.

Pollema grew up on a small dairy farm in Milaca, Minn. She is sixth of eight children. Her parents were hard working, and they dedicated their lives to providing a good home for their children. However, education was not a huge focus in their lives. “We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, because dairy farmers don’t make a lot,” Pollema said. “No one in my family thought college was an option.”

In high school, Pollema ran track and cross-country for four years and was named the captain of the track and cross-country team her senior year. With the help of her high school track coach, Pollema came to see college as an opportunity to continue running.

After meeting with UMD Track Coach John Fulkrod, Pollema was sure of her choice. “Coach Fulkrod was a very positive influence for me,” she said. “He’s really a great person who provided me with a lot of insights.” Pollema was awarded a partial track scholarship, Pell grants, academic scholarships, and Minnesota state grants to help fund her education.

When she started at UMD, Pollema wasn’t sure what she wanted to major in. She was interested in science and took her first biology course. After that, she was hooked. “I wanted to dig deeper into how things work,” she said. “The world inside of a single cell fascinates me.”

Pollema’s UMD adviser was Allen Mensinger, associate professor of biology. “Al helped me find the direction I needed in my career,” she said. “He was a great asset.” In a nomination letter, Mensinger wrote, “I have no doubt that Ms. Pollema will be one of our nation’s leading scientists by the end of the decade.”

As she reflects on her time at UMD, Pollema recalls how much the university offered her. It was the start of her career as a scientist. “I was led to UMD, and it was the perfect school for me,” she said. “I was in a great environment with great people. I’m really grateful for my time at UMD.”

Above: Sarah Pollema with Allen Mensinger

A HOMERUN FOR CREATIVITY

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Nine months after graduating from UMD with a B.F.A. in graphic design, Jesse Bodell (’00) started working at Periscope, an independent advertising agency  with offices in Minneapolis, Hong Kong, and Delhi. Their diverse client  list includes: United Health Group, Arctic Cat, and the Minnesota Twins.

A native of Hermantown, Minn., and a lifelong baseball fan, Bodell says, “The client I enjoy most is the Twins. It’s glamorous; it’s baseball; and it’s fun.”

He executes the branding for the Minnesota Twins, and it gets a facelift every year. “I realized just how special this job was when I attended a game during my first year on the Twins account,” Bodell said. “I held a real ticket that I designed, one of nearly 2.5 million others. It was a great feeling seeing others smiling as they inspected the details.” Bodell designed 12 versions of the ticket so people could collect them.

Each year, Bodell and his team design a package to entice fans to purchase season tickets. The design of that marketing campaign drives the identity for the coming year. From a 2006 “Twins Territory” theme with a vintage poster art feel to the 2008 modern, urban ballpark look featuring illustration, Bodell keeps it fresh.

Bodell’s heart is in the work. When Twins management approached him to create a commemorative mark in tribute to center field great, Kirby Puckett, Bodell was grateful for the opportunity. “Other than my dad, Kirby Puckett was my hero,” Bodell said.

Periscope was instrumental in setting the tone at Target Field.  Bodell touched on emotional elements that could connect to Twins fans. “Outdoor baseball with the beauty of a starry night, green grass, and sunburned beer vendors was new to nearly three generations of Twins fans,” Bodell said.

Bodell and Periscope contributed to much of the signage around the ballpark, such as banners ringing the stadium commemorating the Twins division and world titles and a 700 foot mural featuring baseball cards of former Twins greats. The numbers speak for the work. Attendance in the Metrodome grew from 1.75 million to 2.5 million while Bodell worked with the Twins. In Target Field, attendance is over 3 million, and ESPN named Target Field the number one fan experience in all of major league sports for 2010.

He has other great clients. “We get to do the most amazing photo shoots for Arctic Cat,” Bodell said. In order to show new snowmobile technology, they travel into the mountains above Jackson Hole, Wyo. “We bring in some of the best action sports photographers and riders in the country. In the middle of nowhere on the top of that mountain, the crazy stuff they do is incredible. The scenery is also some of the most picturesque on earth.”

Bodell says it’s hard to think of working anywhere other than Periscope. “Their design aesthetics match my interests, and they go the extra mile. That feels right,” he said. “Periscope also gave me the opportunity to work with something I Iove.”

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Last modified on 09/20/11 10:24 AM
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