Shaun Baer ’00 is among the voice cast for the animated preschool series Bossy Bear, slated for a 2023 premiere on the Nickelodeon family of networks. On the 30-episode series, Shaun plays Bossy’s dad, the manager of an electronics shop who has a Ph.D. in dad jokes, as the kids navigate silly childhood adventures in their Koreatown-inspired city of Pleasantburg. Shaun is a veteran actor of stage and screen, currently based in Los Angeles.
InsureWomen has announced Meg McKeen ’00 as the latest Founding Member.
InsureWomen is creating a network of agents who are passionate about serving female insurance buyers. Agents are affiliated with top-rated insurance companies to provide the best insurance coverage at a competitive rate. Each agent is required to take the “InsureWomen Pledge” to make buyers feel comfortable during the process by answering questions and educating them about the insurance they are buying.
To read more about Founding Members and InsureWomen, visit here.
Kevin Kalus ’00 gave IWU students insight into careers in banking on February 16 for the virtual Titan Career Chat series.
Kevin has been a Chase Market Executive since 2014.
Dr. Susanna Widicus Weaver has been named Alumni of the Year for the Illinois Wesleyan University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and will speak at the department’s Senior Night Awards Banquet on April 18. Dr. Widicus Weaver is now a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Departments of Chemistry and Astronomy.
“To me this is more important than any other award I could have received because it’s really from the heart,” she said. “It’s such a huge honor. To know that they respect and care about me at this level is just incredible!”
Dr. Widicus Weaver chose Illinois Wesleyan’s undergraduate program after meeting her research advisor in a lunch line at the university’s open house. That advisor showed her a meteorite collection and ignited her passion for astrochemistry.
“Other schools wouldn’t even let me see the labs,” she said. “She was telling me all about her research, so I ended up working with her for four years, and I graduated with honors.”
The program contained a small number of students, who interacted regularly, and when Dr. Widicus Weaver’s mentor left for another job, the rest of the department stepped up to make sure she could finish her honors research, attend meetings, give talks and continue learning chemistry.
“The department was phenomenal at helping me navigate all of that and at helping me keep my work going,” she said. “Every bit of it prepared me to get through graduate school and taught me how to think about science in terms of how to come up with a hypothesis and test it. It taught me how to get a research proposal funded and keep a project running… everything I needed to know to be a research professor.”
As an undergraduate, Dr. Widicus Weaver worked hard, spending evenings and weekends in the lab and sharing her excitement for chemistry with others in the department. Her enthusiasm and dedication did not go unnoticed.
“I realized that we had a budding research chemist in the making,” said Ram Mohan, IWU Wendell and Loretta Hess Professor of Chemistry. “I’m pleased that my observations were correct–Susanna has done wonderfully well and carved a name for herself in the field of astronomy. She has made significant contributions to the field and her research focuses on understanding the evolution of prebiotic molecules as stars and planets form. She was an independent thinker and came up with unique solutions at times to problems she ran into during the course of the lab experiment.”
Her time at Illinois Wesleyan University taught her how to handle research challenges and helped her grow into a confident scientist, but it also left a lasting impression on her desire to mentor undergraduates.
“I am always aware of the power of an undergrad research experience and how that can influence someone’s career trajectory,” she explained. “It was such a strong influence on mine. I always have them in my group and I really love mentoring undergrads and teaching graduate students how to mentor them.”
Sharon Chung ’00 announced her candidacy for Illinois’ 91st House District seat.
Chung, a Democrat, has served on the McLean County Board since she was elected in 2018. She is a professional classical musician and private instructor in Bloomington. She also is an adjunct professor at Millikin University.
“Right now, we have a really exciting opportunity to have great representation for the Bloomington-Normal community in Springfield. It’s something we were lacking for many years, the way the districts were drawn,” said Chung.
Jonathan Musch ’00 recently became a partner at Hilgers Graben PLLC located in St. Louis, Missouri. Congratulations!
Mike Rogers ’00 joined Nelnet Campus Commerce, a division of Nelnet, Inc., as National Sales Manager. In his new role, Mike will focus on management and strategy of new business development, account management, client retention, and revenue growth. He will be based out of Chicago.
Mike most recently served as an Application Sales Manager for Oracle America, where he managed and led complex, multi-pillar, and multi-industry sales cycles and developed go-to-market strategies for the national higher education team.
Matthew Dearing ’00 participated in a Careers in Technology Panel with the Hart Career Center at Illinois Wesleyan University on February 24, 2021. Moderated by Andrew Shallue, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Matthew and other alumni discussed careers in technology, software development, consulting, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cybersecurity with IWU students.
Matthew is currently an AIOps Technical Lead and Applications Development with Argonne National Laboratory as well as a Freelance Sci+Tech Editor (AI/machine learning) in Chicago.
Paul Vranas ’00 received a 2021 Neighborhood Star Award by Denver’s Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation organization. In addition to working in software consulting and shuttling around two little kids, Paul has also been working on the following initiatives:
- Creating the Lowry Coronavirus Help Group, a local mutual aid organization for neighbors to assist those in need
- Starting the “Federal Benefits During a Pandemic” Facebook group, where 11,000 people nationwide help each other navigate complex government aid programs
- Organizing neighbors to overturn a ban on lawn signs that existed in our Homeowners Association.
Lucinda (Lucy) Shair ’00, mother of two and Founder and Principal of Lucy Shair Financial, passed away January 6, 2021. At Illinois Wesleyan University, Lucy studied French and International Business and lived in the international house on campus, where she met many of her lifelong friends and fostered her love of languages, becoming fluent in French, and cultures. She later earned her Master’s in Accounting from the University of Southern California and achieved her CPA.
Lucy enjoyed music, singing in different choruses throughout her life, and playing the trumpet in orchestras and jazz bands into college. She enjoyed travel, nature, and many hobbies associated with it, including hiking, fly fishing, kayaking, and gardening. She could identify many trees, plants, and birds and loved to purchase and inherit various plants and flowers. She loved reading and spreadsheets, planning and organizing, dancing and singing, most of all with her children and wider family.
She also possessed a profound, lifelong sense of justice. In the pinnacle of her forensic accounting practice, she managed a section of the federal effort to compensate victims of the September 11 attacks, working for over a year on the Victim Compensation Fund under Special Master Kenneth Feinberg. She developing a recycling program at multiple schools and businesses. And through the children’s schooling and community involvement, Lucy nurtured her passion for school policy and political activism.
You can read the full obituary for Lucy here.