Name: Benjamin Stellmacher

Hometown: Waukesha, Wis.

Title: Microbiologist

Business: Johnsonville Sausage

What began as an internship quickly became the start of a promising career for Ben, who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 2010.

“I was a summer intern at Johnsonville, and after I graduated, a position opened up in the microbiology lab,” he says. “They thought I worked out well during my internship, and I got the job.”

Ben has an important role at Johnsonville, which produces and exports its award-winning bratwurst to all 50 U.S. states and 30 other countries.

“I help ensure that all of our product is safe and free of bacteria,” he says. “I go to the various plants, swab equipment, test product and work with research and development on new product, which is really interesting.”

Ben, who came to Lakeland to play football and fuel his lifelong interest in science, credits Lakeland’s hands-on approach to learning.

“It was really good for me,” he says. “In some of the upper-level classes, there were only six of us, which was really nice. We worked as a group instead of just listening to a professor present information. All of my professors offered great encouragement, and I knew I could call them any time.

“I learned how to work alongside others, while embracing strong values. It was a great experience. At Lakeland, you interact so much more with people, and everyone treats you like a person, not a number.”