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Interesting graduates at Spring 2007 Commencement

May 15, 2007

The Class of 2007 will produce a number of noteworthy graduates who did great things with their experience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In advance of Commencement May 18-20, we have profiled a few of those success stories:

Ryan Burbach, member of AIESEC Madison.

Burbach, a political science major at UW–Madison, has been a member of the Madison chapter of AIESEC, the largest international student-based association, for four years. Because AIESEC is exchange-based, Burbach had the opportunity to teach elementary and middle school students in Thailand and designed and implemented HIV/AIDS educational programs for at-risk children in Morocco through the organization.

"This hands-on work has let me experience many of the realities of the world and has helped me to define a more specific vision for the future, both personally and career-wise," says Burbach, from Fond du Lac. "AIESEC has led to a greater sense of responsibility as a member of the global community, encouraging me to contribute what I can to that community."

Currently, Burbach is in the process of deciding which avenues to pursue after graduation. He will either be working at a refugee camp for people recovering from gender violence or in the field of international development.

Mohammed Farhoud, graduate of biochemistry.

Farhoud, of Milwaukee, is the undisputed master of the Center for Biology Education's (CBE) rapid prototyping printer, an engineering tool that has recently been developed for teaching purposes. To help professors convey difficult concepts in the classroom, Farhoud has throughout his undergraduate career created "printed" 3-D models of biological objects large and small, including skulls, bacterial flagella, and all sorts of molecules.

Lately he has also been helping students with art projects and making models of nanoscale surfaces. He has even wielded the printer to make 3-D models of hearts and other organs – a feat that requires him to combine a series of 2-D "slices" through the organ to construct a 3-D version.

Farhoud first acquired his 3-D printing skills at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, where he worked during high school. He has been an innovator at CBE, exploring on his own the unique potential of rapid prototyping. After graduation, Farhoud hopes to apply his talents in the field of medical imaging.

Ben Fiechtner, Founder of

Four years ago, Ben Fiechtner, a student majoring in political science and marketing, parterned with a fellow freshman, Troy Vosseller, to create what is now known as "Sconnie Nation," a collection of t-shirts, shot glasses and other merchandise about maintaining the image of a "true Wisconsinite." The merchandise is sold through, a multimedia website that includes a blog, widget downloads and, of course, an online store.

"The word 'Sconnie' was something we used regularly and … we decided it was one of those things that really connected with a ton of folks and one that definitely resonated with us," says Fiechtner.

Although he is graduating on Sunday and Sconnie Nation has been going strong since 2003, Fiechtner says, "I still get butterflies every time I see someone wearing a 'Sconnie' design, especially when it is someone I don't know."

After graduation, Fiechtner will be working in GE Healthcare's Commercial Leadership Program for Sales and Marketing and will continue to work on further expanding the Sconnie Nation site.

Jennifer Terlinden, Wisconsin International Scholars Program participant.

Jennifer Terlinden, an English and Spanish major with certificates in global cultures and European studies, studied abroad in Madrid, Spain and Oaxaca, Mexico while she was an undergraduate student at UW–Madison. Her participation in the Wisconsin International Scholars (WISc) program allowed her not only to experience the world, but also to discuss and analyze her experience abroad with other participants.

Terlinden is part of the inaugural WISc class, which will graduate four students this spring. WISc is an enrichment program that gives a small group of undergraduates an opportunity to participate in internationally focused academic and co-curricular activities.

"I believe that in today's globally connected world, every citizen has the moral obligation to take an interest in international events," says Terlinden, from Mukwonago. "The WISc program was fundamental in my transformation from sheltered high school student to global citizen."

Terlinden will volunteering at a shelter for homeless and impoverished children in Guatemala immediately after she graduates, then plans on returning to Spain to teach English.

Andrew Guinn, Wisconsin International Scholars program participant.

Although Andrew Guinn, an International Studies and Spanish major, has made the decision to come to UW–Madison for his undergraduate degree, his experience with WISc allowed him to spend the past four years thinking bout traveling the world. Guinn also studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina during his junior year, where he lived with a host family, watched the World Cup with the passion of an Argentinean and watched the events surrounding the 30th anniversary of the 1976 military coup.

"My participation in the WISc program has provided a lot of structure to my undergraduate career by maximizing my access to internationally themed opportunities on campus," says Guinn, from Whitefish Bay. "I've been introduced to excellent professors, attended numerous events and talks, and come into contact with other students as interested as I am in internationalizing my education."

After graduating on Sunday, Guinn will be teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren in Japan, through the JET program.

Bridget Schigoda, food science graduate.

Schigoda, of Brookfield, interned at Wrigley, where she helped to reformulate the company's famous Doublemint chewing gum for foreign markets. She made countless batches of the gum using different corn syrups, in the hopes of finding locally-produced corn syrups that could be used in the manufacture of Wrigley's distinctively flavored gum in those countries. After graduation, she will join Wrigley as a product development specialist in the company's gum group (they also have a candy group). She will work as part of a team of food scientists, chemical engineers, sensory scientists and marketing specialists to develop new products and flavors, and to improve the shelf life of existing products.

Noah Annes, Member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity.

For someone who never saw himself joining a fraternity, and only rushed when is roommate wanted someone to go with him, the degree to which Noah Annes has embraced Greek life at UW–Madison may be surprising to some.

Annes' commitment has extended not only to the volunteer activities that UW–Madison Greek life is known for, such as his participation in the Adventure Learning Programs, but also to changing fraternity life for the better.

In 2006, Annes, a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, won Student Leader of the Year for his work as a discussion facilitator with the Fraternity Action Coalition, a six-week, one-credit seminar offered to fraternity members to discuss topics like homophobia and sexism in the Greek system. Annes says the program grew from 10 people in Spring 2005 when he first joined to more than 35 this past semester, requiring three separate sections for the discussion-based seminar.

Annes says part of the program's effectiveness has come from its credibility with fraternity members. It is a group led by fraternity members like Annes for other members of the Greek community, allowing a comfortable space for discussion to form. "There's plenty of stereotypes and stigmas that the Greek System has, and I've had friends who got really frustrated with that and dropped out," he says. "But my approach to that was instead of dropping out and not changing anything, getting more involved and trying to promote change."

Annes also served as vice president in the Inter-Fraternity Council last year and participated in other activities like the Greek Jewish Council and the Student Experiential Education Collaboration during his time at UW–Madison. After graduating with a major in biological aspects of conservation, he will work at a camp in northern Minnesota this summer, then head to California to work in a program called Naturalists at Large.