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Alumni Spotlight

Our alumni are doing great things all over the country, and we are proud to count them as part of our Benedictine family. Here are just a couple of stories about what some of our alums have been up to since leaving campus.

Thomas Appelquist, Ph.D.: Physics C63
Thomas Appelquist

Thomas Appelquist received his Physics degree from St. Procopius College in 1963, under the leadership of Fr. William Shonka. He continued to receive his Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics from Cornell University in 1968. As the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Yale University, his research has focused on the theory of elementary particles. Among his contributions are his work predicting the existence of the J/Psi particle, the formulation of the decoupling theorem in quantum field theory, the study of quantum effects in Kaluza-Klein theories, the development of the electroweak chiral lagrangian, the proposal of walking technicolor theories, the idea of universal extra dimensions, and the study of conformal symmetry in gauge field theories using lattice simulations. He was also presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award at commencement in 2002. Watch video.

Andy Ayers: Computer Science C94
Andy Ayers

Andy Ayers is a software developer in the Environmental Science (EVS) division, and he is responsible for various systems that integrate Argonne’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with the Web. The systems allow users to not only browse and query GIS information but to also run dynamic analysis and environmental models. He is the lead software developer for a project to create a new online tool called the Energy Zones Mapping Tool that will help members of the Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council identify geographic areas suitable for the development of clean energy resources, such as solar, wind and biomass. Andy started working at Argonne when he was a student at Benedictine in 1992 as part of the lab’s co-op student program. He did programming and GIS work as a student and then grew into a full-time software development role. He worked at the lab for about five years, then he went into the private sector. After spending about 12 years in the Chicago Internet start-up world, Andy returned to Argonne in 2010. Read more.

Ray Konopka: Computer Science and Mathematics C89
Ray Konopka

Ray Konopka graduated from Illinois Benedictine College in 1989 with degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics. He founded Raize Software in 1995. He started as a consultant for the Walt Disney Co. in 2002 and has worked on several software projects for them, most notably, the Fastpass system, which is used in all of the Disney Parks worldwide. Disney’s Fastpass is “the virtual queuing system” created by the Walt Disney Co. that allows guests to avoid long lines at specific attractions. In October 2011, his hard work paid off, and he was hired as a part-time employee by the company. He was also honored in 2012 with the first ever Mathematical and Computational Sciences Alumni Achievement Award. Konopka and his wife, Elizabeth, Business and Economics C89, started the Raize Software Scholarship Award at Benedictine to give back to the University. "Without (merit-based) scholarships, I would not have been able to attend Benedictine University," Konopka said. "It is my hope that this scholarship can help those students who may be in a similar situation.” Read more.

Deborah Pagel: M.S.'92 in Management and Organizational Behavior
Deborah Pagel

Deborah Ariel Pagel is the Senior Organizational Development Advisor for Boeing Company, and has over 20 years of strategic business experience. She earned her Masters of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior in 1992 from Benedictine University.  Pagel is a leader in her field, and has published a dozen articles focusing on organizational development, human resources, culture change and nuclear energy.  Her article “Unleashing Passion and Potential: A Rally Cry for Customer Service,” was presented at the 2005 Organizational Development Network Meeting and was featured in the OD Practitioner.  She has received a number of awards from the Organizational Development Institute, most notably, the 2006 Outstanding OD Project of the Year Award; and has been recognized by the Boeing Company for Human Resource Excellence Awards in both 2011 and 2013. Deborah was named Benedictine University's 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award winner.

Donald Stablein, Ph.D.: Mathematics C75
Donald Stablein

After receiving his degree in Mathematics from Illinois Benedictine College, Donald Stablein went on to earn a Ph.D. in biostatistics from the Medical College of Virginia where he began his career there as an assistant professor in biostatistics. He joined EMMES in 1980 as a staff statistician; in 1992 he became President of the company. Stablein is a statistical editor of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and a fellow of the American Statistical Society. He serves as a member of multiple data and safety monitoring boards including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal Fetal Medicine Network. He was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the National Advisory Commission on Organ Transplantation and has over 100 publications to his credit. Watch video.

Brian Walker: Political Science C96
Brian Walker

Brian Walker is the CEO of AE Marketing Group and Chairman of the AE Foundation Group. Throughout his career, Brian has won numerous awards and led brand marketing strategy and creative across a number of B2C industries. An avid philanthropist and social entrepreneur, Brian is a member of the Young Associates Board at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and was recognized in July 2012 as a top fundraiser for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program, where he volunteers weekly as a Child Life Specialist. He also founded an endowment scholarship at his alma mater, Benedictine University, and is a Patron Member of Chicago Ideas Week. Brian was named Benedictine University's Spirit Alumni Award winner in 2013.

Brian will be leading our July webinar about branding and its career benefits.

Dana Wright: Management C10, M.S.'12 in Leadership
Dana Wright

Dana is a graduate of the Class of 2010. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Management and went on to receive her Masters of Science in Leadership from Benedictine in 2012. Dana is the 1st Deputy Chief of Police for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. She has nearly 14 years of Law Enforcement experience and over 8 years of Administrative, Managerial and Leadership experience with one of the largest Sheriff’s Offices in the nation. She is also a graduate of the highly competitive FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, after being selected as the first female from her organization to attend. Dana has experienced success in creating cohesive, collaborative and productive teams within her organization and was the Executive Director of Training for her organization in the past. She sits on the Associate Board of the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School and is the founder of Wright Vision Consulting, LLC. She endeavors to utilize her experiences as an Executive Leader to mentor and coach other girls and women in not only law enforcement, but in business and in their personal lives, helping them to reach their fullest potential. When asked about the accomplishment that she is most proud of to date, she replied “I am so proud of the fact that I never gave up, no matter what obstacles presented themselves and finished my schooling. In life we may not always take the straight or traditional path, but when we veer off a bit, it is so refreshing to know we can get back on track and achieve our goals.” Dana was named Benedictine University's Service Alumni Award winner in 2013.

Donald Wyma, Ph.D.: Biochemistry C97
Donald Wyma

Donald Wyma was nominated for the Biological Sciences Alumni Acheivement Award by his former professor, Ed Ferroni. He has led a unique and impressive career that includes pharma consulting, project management and operations. After graduating from Benedictine University with a degree in Biochemistry and a minor in Biology, Wyma went on to receive his Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from Vanderbilt University. There he worked on studies related to HIV. He also completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA working on Rift Valley Fever and Ebola viruses. Wyma spent almost a decade in various leadership positions within the Department of Defense and the U.S. Intelligence Community. He currently works at AbbVie as Assistant Director of Planning and Portfolio Support. In this role, he leads the drug development process from discovery to product launch. Watch video.

Class Notes

Let your Voices be heard.

Every Benedictine graduate has a unique story to tell, and we would love to share yours with your fellow alumni as well as students, parents, donors and the rest of the Benedictine University community. New career? Promotion? Baby? Met the person of your dreams? Finally retired? Share your news with us, and we'll include you in the Class Notes section of Voices magazine.

Click here to fill out our Class Notes form.