Three Lakeland grads return, share their stories
Current and prospective Lakeland students heard from three successful Lakeland graduates Tuesday as part of the first of three annual colloquium events this week.
Returning to campus Tuesday for the Humanities & Fine Arts Colloquium were the Rev. Jacob Nault ’17, pastor at Union-Congregational United Church of Christ in Waupun, Wis.; Stephanie (Wasmer) Stowers ’14, choral director at Sheboygan Falls Middle School; and Zach Mock ’19, student & alumni engagement officer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The graduates each shared stories about their time at Lakeland and how they maximized their Lakeland experiences to position themselves for post-graduation success. They shared advice with students on skills that employers are currently seeking and how their coursework, faculty and other mentors they met along the way helped them grow.
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.
Nault graduated from Lakeland with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance and pedagogy and was the last Lakeland student to graduate with a church music minor. He came to Lakeland intent on being a music teacher, but he sensed a call to ordained ministry towards the end of his time at Lakeland.
He graduated from Eden Theological Seminary in 2021 with a master of divinity. Along with his daily work for his church, he continues to be active as a musician, working as a performer and songwriter. His music has been used by churches, schools and community ensembles nationwide.
Nault told students not to be afraid to change directions in college. “Everything you’ve learned in your life you can use to propel yourself to the next step,” said Nault, who served as Ley Chapel pianist for three years and worked with the chaplain to plan weekly workshop services.
Nault encouraged students to follow their passion to help lead them to a satisfying and meaningful career. “The world doesn’t need more people to do a job just to do a job,” he said. “Having a passion for something helps us do a better job. Communicate to people with care, compassion and collegiality.”
Following graduation from Lakeland’s education program, Stowers completed a master’s in music education from Silver Lake College, a program that is now housed at Lakeland. In addition to her role at Sheboygan Falls, she pursues her passion for music by directing school musicals, singing with the local group VOX and accompanying at church.
A Howard Grove native, she initially attended St. Norbert College but transferred to Lakeland to complete her degree. “I got exactly what I needed here at Lakeland,” Stowers said. “I had people to push me to do things and I was treated as a human being.”
She encouraged students to build those same strong connections while also being open-minded.
“Surround yourself with people who will inspire and push you,” Stowers said. “Be willing to learn. Be flexible. Treat people like people. Dr. (Evan) Chancellor (a Lakeland music faculty member) said ‘We don’t teach music, we teach people’ and that has always stuck with me.”
Mock graduated with a bachelor’s in communication and a psychology minor. He bolstered his classroom work with three internships, including one at Dynamic Inc. where he learned more about marketing and building relationships with clients. He founded the Lakeland University Drumline and in 2018 gave a talk at TEDxLakelandUniversity.
Following graduation, Mock worked as a commercial lines underwriter at Acuity Insurance in Sheboygan, but he sought out a role that would allow him to work with students. In 2022, UWM created a role that has Mock managing a team of 14 students and leading numerous projects that foster the connection of current students and alumni.
“The more I indulged here at Lakeland, it opened more doors,” Mock said. “Faculty members here allow us to ride with our passion. I remember being told at orientation ‘If we don’t have something that you want here, make it happen.’
“This is the best place to try those things. A lot of students I work with have those same fears and I encourage them to try new things. If my professors would not have given me that chance I would probably not be here at this point. Don’t underestimate yourself and your capabilities.”