Greetings from our alumni!
Sally (Robertson) Ahrens, BS in Mathematics
“After graduating from Saint Mary’s in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, I continued my studies in mathematics at Villanova University (earning a Master of Arts in Mathematics) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (earning a Master of Science in Mathematics). At Villanova University, I worked as a research assistant to Dr. Kathryn Haymaker (see publication here). As a graduate teaching assistant at UNL, I taught undergraduate math courses from College Algebra to Differential Equations which furthered my passion for mathematics education. Presently, I work at UNL’s Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education as a project coordinator and researcher supporting research projects in STEM education.”
In December 2017, Sally married Charles (Chase) Ahrens, an SMC alum who participated in SMC’s 3+2 Engineering Program. Sally and Chase met at SMC in the Fall of 2011 while living in Assumption Hall.
Charles (Chase) Ahrens, BA in Liberal Arts, Saint Mary’s College and a BS in Mechanical Engineering at Washington University in Saint Louis
“I attended Washington University in St. Louis to complete my 3+2 Engineering degree, where I lived with Elliott Battle and Maria Ferguson (both SMC and Assumption Alums). I completed my Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering and decided to continue at Wash U to get my Masters of Engineering in Robotics engineering, with a concentration in Mechatronics. (Maria and Elliott also decided to get their respective Masters degrees, so we lived together all 3 years in St. Louis). While in St. Louis I did a 1 year internship at a local startup (Applied Particle Technology) focused on high-efficiency air filters using electrostatic precipitation, where I manufactured prototypes in the machine shop, designed and programmed wireless sensor packages for testing, and developed a testing duct set up for qualification.”
After completing his Masters, Chase moved to Lincoln Nebraska with Sally Robertson and they got married. They moved so that Sally could attend the University of Nebraska Lincoln in their graduate Math program, and Chase got a job with The Toro Company, which has a manufacturing plant located 40 minutes south of Lincoln (branded as Exmark Manufacturing Company).
“The factory that I work at produces high end residential and commercial “Zero Turn” lawnmowers, which cost anywhere from $5,000 to $45,000 per unit, as well as a selection of medium sized lawncare equipment, such as stand-on Aerators, Concrete Mixers, and ride-on fertilizer/pesticide sprayers. I started working for The Toro Company as a Manufacturing Engineer on a few of their product lines, but after demonstrating interest in robotics and automation, I switched roles to be a plant-wide Robotics and Automation Engineer, focused almost solely on automation projects and efficiency improvements. I have been with The Toro Company for 3 years as of last week. In my time here, I developed a week long training course for weld robot programming that have taught about a dozen times, as well as planned out and installed several automation projects, from autonomous guided vehicles that deliver parts to assembly lines to collaborative robot arms that work next to people without endangering their safety.”
“My last year at SMC was 2014, but due to the weirdness of the 3+2 engineering program, I didn’t get my degree officially until I finished my undergrad at Wash U, in 2016. Because I had scholarships and loans, I chose to not get either of my undergrad degrees officially until I finished my masters, so I technically “graduated” all at once in 2017.”
Erika (Musgrave) Hopkins, BS in Mathematics
“I am currently in my fifth year of grad school at University of Nebraska – Lincoln. I am doing my best to try to graduate this year, and I am starting to think about possible future jobs. I got married last summer, so a little over a year ago, and my husband is also a math graduate student here at UNL. He will be graduating this year as well, so we are going to be dealing with the two body problem. He is interested in an academic position ideally at a small liberal arts school, and I am mostly interested in industry or government jobs. This next year will probably bring a lot of changes, but I am excited to see where life takes us!
Maria (Ferguson) Facquaye, BA in Liberal Arts, Saint Mary’s College and a BS in Mechanical Engineering at Washington University in Saint Louis
“I am living in Tucson, Arizona and working as an engineer at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. I focus on aerodynamics. I got my 3+2 Engineering BA from SMC and Mechanical Engineering BS from Washington University in St. Louis in 2016, and a Aerospace Engineering MS from Washington University in St. Louis in 2017. I’ve been at RMD for 3 years, first and only job thus far! Since moving to Arizona I’ve started some backpacking, with trips to Havasupai and Aravaipa Canyon, and my husband and I adopted a Chow Chow mix named Sasha.”
Shannon “JJ” Behrens
BA in Mathematics with a concentration in Computer Science, class of 2000
Winner of the Br. Alfred Brousseau award for “outstanding scholarship as a mathematics major”
“I graduated from SMC back in 2000 and then spent more than a decade working at various startups. I eventually joined Google and then later Twitter. Currently, I’m a software architect at Udemy.
“Tech moves fast. Companies come and go. Technologies come and go. I don’t code in any programming language that I learned in school. However, you don’t go to SMC to learn a particular programming language. You can do that online. What you learn at SMC is much more valuable and profound. You go to SMC to learn how to think critically, how to communicate effectively, how to solve problems no one has seen before, and how to work hard even when the going gets tough.
“You might think it strange, but the seminar classes and proof-based math classes I took at SMC have had a profound, lasting impact on who I am as a developer. To use an analogy, instead of learning how to work on cars, I learned to think about transportation in order to design the transportation of the future.
“The other thing that I most appreciate from my time at SMC is how much time I spent with my professors. Sure, there are more prestigious schools churning out graduates like efficient factories. However, to really thrive, I needed that face-to-face attention that I got so much of while attending SMC. My professors not only knew who I was, but they cared about me at a personal level. That made all the difference.”
BA in Mathematics, class of 2010
“After graduating from Saint Mary’s I became involved with the Lasallian Volunteer Program. I currently serve at John XXIII Educational Center in Racine, Wisconsin. My primary role at the center is Mentor/Tutor. In this role, I work with high school students in our after-school study hall hours. Our center provides a place where all students from Racine can come and do their homework from 3:30-5:30 and 7:00-8:30 pm Monday through Thursday. Many of our students struggle with basic math skills, and I have the ability to work with these students on various levels of mathematics, and also help them with the rest of their assignments. However, that is not my only role at John XXIII. During school hours, the center offers outreach programs to the school district. I am involved and helped to develop a 5-week course that focuses on gossip and bullying at the middle school level.
“As a Lasallian volunteer, you tend to wear many hats; along with the tutor role and leading outreach programs, I also have two other roles that are very important to the center. The first is most important to me: I have been working with a high school senior, teaching him one-on-one to make up an algebra class credit so he might have the opportunity to graduate on time. The other is geared towards development of the center: keeping track of expenses and donations to the center, and responding to those donations when they come in. It’s a long nine- to ten-hour day of work, but as a Lasallian volunteer I am helping to make a difference in many students’ lives and carrying on the mission I learned at Saint Mary’s: Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve.”