Iowa State University Alumni Association

2015 Iowa STATEment Makers

Christopher Cassling ’11
Omaha, Neb.

After volunteering with the Student Conservation Association at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Chris (’11 biology) found his passion and his calling to serve as a Ranger for the U.S. National Park Service. Today he works seasonally as a Type 2 Commissioned Law Enforcement Ranger, a role in which he wears many types of hats: law enforcement, emergency medical service, search and rescue, fire service, and education. This April, he begins working in Lake Mead National Recreation Area after previous stints at Grand Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park. He’s been the first responder on multiple medical emergencies; he’s educated visitors about preserving natural resources; and he’s literally put out fires. Chris hopes to one day become a Permanent Ranger for the National Park Service, as he strives to carve out a fulfilling career of public service.

Chris on…

…his favorite college memory: “all the time I spent with my brothers in Phi Gamma Delta”
…his role model: “Theodore Roosevelt”
…his favorite app: “Stitcher Radio on Demand. It allows me to catch up and follow all my favorite podcasts while I’m driving cross-country.”
…what’s next for him: “I’m going to travel the United States and experience all the natural wonders this great nation has to offer.”

Daniel Eaton ’08
Deephaven, Minn.

After earning an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management in 2012 and gaining years of experience as a mechanical engineer, project manager, operations director, and consultant, Dan (’08 mechanical engineering) launched his own company: Parallel Computing Solutions, a Minneapolis-based firm which aims to “commercialize innovative technology by communicating the technology’s strategic and business value to influential decision makers.” He has built the company, which is based on the new SRC Computers platform, from the ground up thanks in part to a strong interest in energy efficiency he developed while studying at ISU. “Customers can now quickly and easily take their core business logic and create a custom processor tailored to their business logic, leading to massive improvements in business efficiency,” Dan says. “The infrastructure and energy savings are huge.”

Dan on…

…his favorite spot on the ISU campus: “the arches between Lyon Residence Hall and Roberts Residence Hall”
…his favorite college memory: “proposing to my wife under the Campanile in the moonlight”
…his role model: “Jesus of Nazareth”
…his guilty pleasure: “dark chocolate”

Mary Fuller ’08
Corning, Iowa

Upon graduation, Mary (’08 ag and life sciences education and studies) joined the Peace Corps and moved to Zambia to help farmers improve their agricultural and conservation practices. While most Peace Corps volunteers only stay 27 months, Mary stayed a third year at Kasanka National Park, working on community relations, conservation education, and food security. Since returning to the U.S. in 2012, she has maintained a strong service focus, volunteering at Common Good City Farm, the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., and the McDonough County Extension Office in Macomb, Ill. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in recreation, park, and tourism administration through the Peace Corps Fellow Program in Community Development at Western Illinois University and serving as a part-time AmeriCorps member with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs. Next year, she will participate in an 11-month internship assisting rural Illinois towns with community development projects. Upon graduation, she hopes to work in the agritourism field. “I want to work to help people understand agriculture and how their food is produced,” she says.

Mary on…

…her favorite college memory: “Escorting John Oliver around campus and to the parade during VEISHEA 2008. Even though it was freezing, John was so great and I loved being able to show off our campus and all the work we had done.”
…the movie she’s always quoting: “Forgetting Sarah Marshall (especially when I’m looking for my shoes)”
…her favorite app: “Twitter. I follow all sorts of people that match up with my interests: Iowa State, Peace Corps, Zambia, travel, and so on. It’s great for news and staying up-to-date, but it’s also a great place to crowdsource answers and information for almost anything.”
…her favorite quote: “’Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,’ by Ralph Waldo Emerson”

Andy Hoernecke ’05 ’07
San Francisco, Calif.

As an information assurance professional, Andy (’05 computer engr, MS ’07) is focused on finding practical solutions to long-standing, difficult problems. After successful stints at Neohapsis and Sears Online Business in Chicago, he moved to the Silicon Valley in 2013 to become a senior application security engineer for Netflix’s cloud security team. He has used his current position at Netflix as an opportunity to promote collaboration among major companies in addressing security challenges and has worked on a variety of open source projects designed to help developers and security professionals work together on building more secure applications. His work has garnered media attention from such publications as PC World, Slashdot, Reddit, and Slate. He is also a frequent presenter at software development and security conferences across the country.

Andy on…

…the everyday item he can’t live without: “headphones”
…what would make the world a better place: “if more people thought about others before themselves”
…his favorite quote: “‘Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect,’ by Mark Twain”
…what Iowa State means to him: “My years at Iowa State provided me with some of the most important experiences of my life: choosing a path for my career, meeting my future husband, and making lifelong friends. I will never forget my time there!”

Carl Kirpes ’12 '14
Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Annual Member

Upon graduation, Carl (’12 mechanical engr and industrial and manufacturing systems engr, MS '14 systems engr) moved to Kansas City and began working for GENESYS Systems Integrator as an entry-level sales engineer. He immediately impressed his colleagues, who began assigning him projects they say had been on the company “wish list” for years. Not only did Carl complete the list of projects, but he did so in a way that shattered expectations. So when it came time to name a new vice president of operations, the recent college graduate was the obvious choice. “He has raised the bar of expectations for many new hires and young employees at GENESYS and throughout the industry,” GENESYS president Matthew Perry says. “GENESYS has become a thriving organization under his excellent leadership."

Carl on…

…his favorite ISU tradition: “walking around Lake La Verne, home of Lancelot and Elaine”
…his role model: “My football coach, Paul Rhoads, has been a great role model for me. He taught me about being ‘All In;’ he taught me how to dream; and he showed me how to reach those dreams.”
…what would make the world a better place: “if we had an eighth day every week. Imagine what we could accomplish! (This is the basis for the plot of a novel I wrote while at Iowa State as part of my Honors Thesis project, tying in the concept I coined as ‘Reflective Leadership.’ In the book, the eighth day is called ‘Truday.’”)
…what Iowa State means to him: “Opportunity. I cannot give enough thanks to the individuals who supported me along my journey at Iowa State, and I look forward to paying it forward.”

Stephen Lauer ’13
Des Moines, Iowa

Stephen (MS ’13 sustainable agriculture & community planning) is a scientist with a heart for service, a creative community organizer, and a passionate advocate for the poor. For eight years, he has served as a volunteer for Oxfam America. While pursuing his master’s degree at ISU, he donated 30-50 hours per week to help grow the World Food Prize Foundation’s youth education programs. He has also been instrumental in growing the Iowa Hunger Summit. Today, he is a program coordinator for the World Food Prize Foundation, where he leads the Iowa Hunger Directory program – an online forum that helps more than 450 hunger-fighting organizations; organizes the Iowa Hunger Summit; coordinates the organization’s technology and information management initiatives; and coordinates the 40 Chances Fellow program, a $600,000 grant program to support social entrepreneurs in Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Stephen on…

…his favorite app: “I use the free version of Wunderlist to help organize my workflow and avoid forgetting important tasks”
…his guilty pleasure: “I love learning and can spend hours reading Wikipedia and clicking on the links within the articles”
…his role models: “My parents, for modeling steadfast love in the face of adversity”
…his favorite ISU tradition: “We learn in community and regional planning that unspoken, enduring patterns of behavior are among the most meaningful of traditions. World Food Prize President Ambassador Kenneth Quinn often says that the true measures of any community are the duties that its members owe one another and the duties that they owe to outsiders. Both of these lessons are observed in a common ISU dining hall practice, whereby groups of friends reserve seats together by placing wallets, ID cards, and cell phones on the table before going through the meal lines. By representing a campus where friends eat meals together and everyone trusts that strangers will respect their property, the dining hall practice of reserving seats with valuables remains my favorite ISU tradition.”

Mark Richard Kresser ’09
Seattle, Wash.

While more than 10,000 bicyclists pedaled 423 miles across Iowa the last week of July 2013 as part of RAGBRAI XLI, Richard (’09 civil engineering) chose to do it the hard way: He ran. The 27-year-old Raymond, Iowa, native averaged three to four hours of sleep a night and ran between 12 and 20 hours a day. He alternated among four pairs of running shoes and ate breakfast burritos and other food from vendors along the route. As he finished the race in Fort Madison, he told the Des Moines Register: “Now that I’m done, the body is like, ‘OK, let’s move on to something else, like a couch.’” His efforts raised more than $20,000 for the Iowa Veterans Home. Richard, who recently transitioned from his career in the U.S. Army to pursue his dreams in the outdoor recreation industry, is no stranger to adventure. He has led two successful mountaineering expeditions, completed numerous ultramarathons – including five 100-mile trail running races, and is currently working as a professional ski patroller, EMT, and avalanche controller in Washington state.

Richard on…

…his favorite spot on the ISU campus: “Pammel Woods, where I spent many hours as an ROTC cadet practicing military tactics and drills”
…his dream job: “Mount Rainier National Park Climbing Ranger”
…the TV show he’s always quoting: “Arrested Development”
…his favorite quote: “’Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice,’ by Henry Ford”

Maggie Luttrell Roby ’09 ’11
Overland Park, Kan.
Life Member

Maggie (’09 history and women’s studies, M.Ed. ’11) has known from a young age what it means to serve others less fortunate. As a child of deaf adults, she grew up as a volunteer sign language interpreter and advocate for the deaf community – and continues these activities in the Kansas City area today. She was extremely active on campus and in the community while attending ISU, and now she is sharing her enthusiasm and dedication in her new community. While she was recently employed with Target Corp. as an executive team leader and the community captain for a store in Overland Park, Kan., her store more than doubled its volunteer service goals and ranked among the top 25 percent of Target stores nationally. Now employed by Sunflower, Maggie is up for election to her Homeowners Association board. She works to advance public service opportunities at her alma mater as well; the former Legacy of Heroines scholar contributes annually to the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics’ scholarship fund.

Maggie on…

…her favorite spot on the ISU campus: “Memorial Union”
…her favorite college memory: “Campaigning for GSB vice president. I loved meeting and interacting with students on campus and learning more about what they wanted from their college adventure”
…her role model: “Dianne Bystrom [director of ISU’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center] and my grandmother. Both women exude the social intelligence and compassion for others that I hope to learn and impart on others as they have done for me. They have both been supportive of me and encouraged me to succeed.”
…what would make the world a better place: “if we loved strangers like we love those closest to us”

Rachel Bell Parks ’11
Madison, Wis.
Life Member

A letter from Rachel (’11 BS/MS diet and exercise) to prospective ISU students reads as follows: “I hope you will consider becoming a Cyclone. Not many people can say they landed their dream job at age 24. I am one of the fortunate who can, thanks to my education at Iowa State University.” Today, Rachel works in her dream job at the University of Wisconsin, where she is a sports dietitian for the Wisconsin Badgers and a pediatric dietitian for American Family Children’s Hospital. A former member of the ISU track and field and cross country team, Rachel is passionate about helping athletes and children reach their full potential. In a typical work week you might find her feeding a premature baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, teaching a cooking class to a team of Badger student-athletes, or writing a research article about vitamin D deficiency.

Rachel on…

…her favorite ISU tradition: “beating Iowa”
…the everyday item she can’t live without: “my running shoes”
…what’s next for her: “During college, my Kenyan teammates were always telling amazing stories about the land, culture, food, and distance runners in their country. I hope to experience Kenya first-hand in the next 1-2 years.”
…why being recognized by Iowa State is meaningful to her: “Visiting Iowa State still feels like going home. When I see that sign for Ames on I-35, all the memories from campus life, friends, classes, etc., come rushing back. ISU was a wonderful place where I discovered my professional interests and made lifelong friendships. This award makes me grateful for the many people at Iowa State who helped me along the way.”

Alex Priest ’11
Omaha, Neb

As the exhibition manager at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and volunteer curator for the Omaha Public Library, Alex (’11 landscape architecture) has a direct, daily impact on the community in which he lives. He has restructured the exhibition program at the Omaha Public Library to include stronger connections between the artists and the institution and assisted with the renovation of Carver Bank into an artist-in-residency program alongside Theaster Gates (’96 urban planning & ceramics; MS ’06). Alex has used his multi-disciplinary design education in ways that not only bring art and beauty to the forefront, but do so in a way that promotes healthy dialogue about contemporary issues.

Alex on…

…the everyday item he can’t live without: “CrossFit shoes”
…the movie he’s always quoting: “Titanic”
...his favorite quote: “Reality is for those who lack imagination.”
…why being recognized by Iowa State is meaningful to him: “Iowa State is an access point to an unlimited amount of knowledge, culture, and opportunities.”

Cristina Saint-Blancard ’06
Plantation, Fla.

When Cristina (’06 mechanical engineering) was in graduate school at Ohio State University, she volunteered and conducted research at a neonatal intensive care unit, where in her spare time she cradled infants born to addicts – and where she contracted a bacterial infection in her ears and brain that forced her to leave school and nearly took her life. Although today she is now profoundly hard of hearing and faces tremendous health obstacles, she has completed her master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Purdue University and even lost more than 160 pounds. She has become an advocate for disability awareness and service animals. “I got a lot of help and encouragement from my family and friends,” Cristina says, “but I also would not be here if it were not for my beloved service dog Tatiana, who one night saved my life when she alerted my family after I suffered a sudden respiratory arrest. Because of the exposure she got for that, we give presentations to children and adults about service dogs and some of the issues we face daily in hopes that it will help create awareness.”

Cristina on…

…her favorite ISU tradition: “midnight Broomball games”
…her favorite college memory: “Being from Puerto Rico, I had never seen snow prior to attending ISU. I remember running outside, catching flurries in my mouth, and trying to build a snowman and make snow angels. I will never forget my very first snowball fight with friends and perfect strangers at the courtyard by Friley Hall. It was both magical and beautiful experiencing all four seasons for the first time as a freshman, even if it was hard to adjust to the extreme cold and excess snow.”
…her role model: “My role model is my service dog, Tatiana, because she epitomizes pure, selfless, unconditional love. She lives in the moment, accepts people for who they are, and simply loves life. She is loyal and dependable and never holds grudges. If I could be half the person my dog is, I’d be twice the human I am.”
…what receiving this award from Iowa State means to her: “This award helps me realize that, although it is sometimes hard for me to see, there is something that I must be doing right. While I know that I am in no way a failure, I cannot help but feel unaccomplished at times since I have had several health issues slow me down and deviate me from my original goals and plans. I may not be the person I thought I should be with the career I thought I should have, but I know in my heart that I am the person I was meant to be and can only hope that will inspire others to be the same.”

Cristobal Salinas Jr. ’12 ’15
Ames, Iowa

When it comes to issues of diversity on college campuses, Criss (MS ’12 student affairs and higher ed, PhD ’15 higher ed admin) is a scholar and an advocate. His groundbreaking research on men and masculinities has been spotlighted at various conferences, and he has been recognized as a rising star by the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) for his creation of a peer-reviewed journal that addresses the interconnections of race, ethnicity, and sovereignty in higher education policy, practice, and theory. He has served ISU as a graduate research associate in the School of Education, as a multicultural liaison officer and academic advisor for the College of Design, and as a George Washington Carver Graduate Assistant with the university’s office of multicultural student affairs. He serves as a mentor to many students on campus, particularly Latino males, through the McNair Graduate Mentor Program. “I credit Iowa State University with my development as a scholar,” he says.

Criss on…

…his favorite ISU tradition: “the swans, Lancelot and Elaine”
…his role models: “My parents”
…his favorite app: “Twitter” (Follow him at @criss_salinas)
…his favorite quote: “’You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore,’ by Cesar Chavez”

Ned Skoglund ’08
West Bend, Iowa

Ned Skoglund (’08 management and marketing) is the owner and president of Skoglund Meats in West Bend, Iowa. Skoglund Meats is a successful business that sustainably processes high-quality, local pork, beef, and wild game and also creates premium meat products for national fundraisers. Ned makes a positive impact in his rural community, where he employs 12 people and contributes to local projects. In 2014, Ned found his calling to take over the Skoglund family business after a successful seven-year career working toward upper management at Archer Daniels Midland. He assumed full ownership of Skoglund Meats on Jan. 1. Ned has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, his nominators say: He started a company in high school and contracted with ISU Dining in college to remove and process waste cooking oil into biodiesel.

Ned on…

…his favorite spot on the ISU campus: “in the library, next to the windows overlooking the green space to the south”
…the movie he’s always quoting: “Dumb and Dumber”
…the everyday item he can’t live without: “coffee”
…what’s next for him: “Introduce the rest of Iowa and the Midwest to Skoglund Meats’ incredibly delicious bacon!”

Katherine Wiegert ’07
Denver, Colo.

Improving the lives of the disenfranchised and underserved has long been a motivation for Kate (’07 biology), who traveled to Le Ceiba, Honduras to assist in a medical clinic as an undergraduate and discovered her passion for public health. After graduating from ISU, she joined a medical team in Quito, Ecuador that was responsible for the health care of the indigenous tribes of the Amazon rainforest, the installation of public health water projects, and disaster response. While a student at the Duke University School of Medicine, she conducted research on child malnutrition and obstetrics in Haiti, studied HIV transmission in Zimbabwe for the CDC, and traveled to Geneva, Switzerland in service of the World Health Organization. A member of the Center for Global Health Initiatives national advisory board, she works today as a family medicine resident assisting refugees who have relocated to the Denver area.

Kate on…

…her favorite college memory: “walking through main campus late at night while the snow fell, listening to the Campanile play Silent Night”
…what would make the world a better place: “if people considered others before themselves”
…her guilty pleasure: “anything with Reese’s!”
…what’s next for her: “start a comprehensive health clinic for refugees and immigrants in Colorado, patterned after my current clinic”


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