Colloquium series wraps up with three accomplished alums
Lakeland wrapped up its annual colloquium series on Friday with three more successful graduates returning to campus to share advice and networking opportunities.
Special guests for the Science, Technology & Education Colloquium were Ben Stellmacher ’10, director of food safety and quality at Johnsonville Sausage; Tiffany Diven ’13, English and journalism/communications teacher at Sheboygan North High School; and Kalie Novak ’18, an officer with the Plymouth, Wis., Police Department.
The colloquium events invite prospective students to Lakeland to hear from successful graduates as part of a day that also includes interviews for Lakeland scholarships. For current students, the events provide an opportunity to interact with these Lakeland grads to build their networks.
Stellmacher graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. During his four years at Lakeland, he was a member of Mu Lambda Sigma fraternity and played offensive line for two conference championship football teams.
He started his career at Johnsonville as a microbiologist then transitioned to food safety and quality. He is passionate about ensuring the production of wholesome, safe, high-quality products, as well as coaching and developing his team members. He received his master’s in biology from the University of Nebraska-Kearney in 2014 and he remains active in the food industry through involvement in several organizations.
Stellmacher originally came to Lakeland planning to transition to medical or pharmacy school, but his time in the Lakeland science program opened his eyes to new options. He encouraged students to have that same open mind during their time at LU and after.
“I enjoyed my time in all the labs and having the freedom to ask questions and not get all the right answers the first time,” said Stellmacher, whose wife, Danielle, is also a Lakeland grad. “Keep an open mind and know how to find answers. Always be curious and ask questions.
“Try to find a company that aligns with your values. Don’t focus on the job title but instead the culture and work-life balance provided.”
Diven graduated from Lakeland’s education program and secured a position within the Sheboygan Area School District while still student teaching. A decade later, she is a leader at Sheboygan North High School where her courses range from freshman and sophomore English to social media and digital multimedia communications.
Outside the classroom, she oversees the school's radio station, social media, yearbook, sits on various committees, is an advisor for EXPO, a co-advisor for the Black Community Organization and an assistant coach with the newly established boys’ volleyball team. She is actively involved within the school community and culture, as well as within the school district and the Sheboygan Education Association union.
She came to Lakeland from Alaska to play softball, and ended up finding lifelong friends and mentors, along with her husband, Jeff, who’s also a Lakeland grad.
“I cannot express to this audience that these people will forever be in your lives,” she said. “They will be an extension of the family you already have.”
Novak graduated with a degree in criminal justice and planned to become a professor, but after participating in several ride-alongs through an internship with the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department, she knew law enforcement was her career calling.
She graduated from the Law Enforcement Academy at Fox Valley Technical College in 2019 and has been with the Plymouth Police Department for approximately three years. She is also a Crisis Intervention Officer following training to help understand mental health issues people experience, and she plans to attend Field Training Officer training to learn how to train new hires.
She encouraged students to maximize their Lakeland experience by taking advantage of the Co-Op program and work experiences as well as other resources.
“Dr. (Karin) Miofsky and I talk to this day,” Novak said. “Co-Op can help you see the jobs you want to experience, see if you don’t want to do something and it’s a way to make connections.”