Claire Van Fossen, Student
Communications and Development Director, WINS for Children
Claire was accepted to Marquette’s Trinity Fellows Program — a graduate fellowship program dedicated to developing urban nonprofit leaders with a commitment to social and economic justice. Through this program, Claire is earning a graduate degree from the College of Professional Studies while applying her education through work with a nonprofit organization. She currently serves as Communications and Development Specialist at WINS for Children, an organization utilizing coalition-based, neighborhood organizing, and collective impact tactics to augment academic achievement in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.
Additionally, Claire has received the Future of Change Award, one of Greater Milwaukee’s most prestigious social justice awards. She was recognized for her work as a social justice advocate and community education activist working in the nonprofit sector. Her place-based social justice work focuses on issues of education, race, gender, sexuality, and economic justice.
“I believe the Trinity Fellows program and the degree offer an opportunity to gain and apply valuable knowledge relevant to my work and my social justice interests within the community,” says Claire.
Kristina Radan, Public Service '13
As a bilingual child who grew up in Austria and traveled internationally with her family, Kristina had the opportunity to learn how to speak five languages including Croatian, German, English, Spanish, and Latin. At the age of six, her uncle introduced her to the sport of tennis, and she has been practicing and playing tournaments ever since. When Kristina graduated from high school, she thought it would be a unique experience to study abroad and to continue playing tennis. After choosing Marquette University based on the excellent academics, Jesuit mission and great reputation, Kristina joined the Marquette women’s tennis team in the fall of 2011 and competed on the collegiate level until May 2012. She has enjoyed using her language skills and competing with her international teammates.
“I was very fortunate to receive a full athletic scholarship from Marquette University, which allowed me to enroll in graduate school,” Kristina says. Since her goal is to serve and support people by working in the government sector, Kristina decided to earn a master’s degree in public service major with a leadership specialization. Her good work ethic and focus allowed her to balance school with tennis and leisure activities. “The challenge to manage time and responsibilities was a valuable lesson for me, and I do believe that this ability will continue to help me throughout my professional and personal life,” she says.
“I would like to continue my education by pursuing a similar Ph.D. major and eventually return to Europe as a highly qualified and experienced public servant who will strive to make a difference in many peoples’ lives,” Kristina remarks. Marquette University, the College of Professional Studies and the Marquette family have been an incomprehensible learning experience.”
Casey Pothour, Public Service '12
Border Patrol Agent, U.S. Border Patrol – Douglas, Arizona
Casey realized it was the right time to go back to school to earn his master’s degree as he was looking for a law enforcement job and it didn’t seem like he had enough credentials to help him stand out among the many job candidates competing for a scarce number of jobs. After visiting the Marquette website and learning about the master’s in public service degree with a criminal justice administration specialization offered through the College of Professional Studies, Casey knew this program was exactly what he was looking for.
To supplement his education with real-life work experience, Casey participated in two internships for credit. He worked for the Milwaukee Police Department for one summer and experienced what the department does for the community in the area of domestic violence. He also worked for a law enforcement agency within the Department of Justice on a full-time basis for one year. This internship gave Casey the opportunity to work inside the agency office on administrative work and gain experience outside the office by accompanying agents on their various routine law enforcement activities.
Currently, Casey is working as a Border Patrol Agent with the U.S. Border Patrol in southeastern Arizona to help keep terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States. “Earning my master’s degree will be a personal accomplishment that will help me with promotional opportunities throughout my career,” he says. “My time at Marquette has provided me the tools and skills to become a better decision maker by developing my critical thinking skills, identifying ethical considerations and an overall understanding of public policy, its affects and applications.”
Tim Hoye, Public Service '13
Layton Boulevard West Neighbors
In 1975, Tim arrived in Milwaukee from war-stricken Vietnam as part of “Operation Babylift,” an initiative that brought orphaned children to new families. He became the first of four children adopted by his parents. “I have strived to carry on their spirit of giving through community service as an Eagle Scout, engaging in urban immersion projects at St. Norbert College, conducting community development workshops as a Peace Corps volunteer, and building homes with Habitat for Humanity,” he says.
After returning to Milwaukee in 2000 from his Peace Corps assignment in Bolivia, Timothy worked in the corporate financial sector as a project manager with local firms such as American Appraisal, Baker Tilly International and Harley-Davidson. With a passion and dedication to improve urban housing that stems from his volunteer experience, he wanted to continue to advocate for those in need by transitioning his career to the nonprofit housing sector.
During a college fair at his workplace, he learned about the master’s degree in public service with a nonprofit sector specialization at Marquette, and he decided it was time to go back to school and gain the knowledge and skills needed for a career transition. This decision helped open the door to a professional position with the nonprofit organization Layton Boulevard West Neighbors. “I am working in the Turnkey Renovation Program, which addresses the most recent problem of foreclosed homes and provides affordable housing to moderate-income families,” he says.
Tim financed his education primarily through loans, work and scholarships. “During my last school year, I was pleased to accept a scholarship from Southeast Wisconsin Educational Consortium (SEWEC). I believe SEWEC’s efforts to provide more access to higher education is essential for community development and personal growth,” remarks Tim.
“My graduate education has introduced me to a wide array of opportunities from the aspects of both research and personal connections. I believe a master’s degree is an important step in identifying the career path that suits me the best. A degree from Marquette will allow me to be successful in many areas of my life.”
Shannon Cagney, Public Service '12
Foundation Coordinator, World Gastroenterology Organisation
“Serving others is not simply something I do, rather it is at the very core of who I am,” says Shannon. “I have truly been blessed with many service opportunities that have enriched my life and inspired lifelong relationships.”
While Shannon was an undergraduate student at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she volunteered with the Big Brother Big Sister organization. In addition, Shannon was selected to serve as an English teacher in Lviv, Ukraine at the Catholic University of Ukraine’s annual English Summer School. The experience of working with the genuine and loving Ukrainian people sparked Shannon’s interest in Eastern Europe and serving in the Peace Corps. After graduation, she joined the Peace Corps during the summer of 2008 and served as an English teacher/community development volunteer in the Republic of Moldova for 29 months.
When she returned to the States, Shannon was offered a job as a Title 1 school teacher at Catapult Learning in Milwaukee. Inspired by her service experience and her grandfather’s passion for social justice, Shannon decided that she would like to move from a career in education to one in the non-profit sector. She is following in her grandfather’s footsteps and attending Marquette University, with a goal to earn a master’s degree in Public Service with a Non-Profit Leadership specialization within two years.
Currently, Shannon works full-time as a Foundation Coordinator for the World Gastroenterology Organisation, assisting with initiatives to provide digestive health education, services and equipment to developing countries around the world. She also serves as the graduate student representative on Marquette University’s Committee on Teaching. “My ultimate career goal is to work for the Peace Corps or another similar international grassroots organization,” Shannon says.
Zak Holochwost, Student
Evaluator, Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.
After earning his bachelor’s degree and working for several years in the nonprofit world, Zak decided it was time to continue his education to help enhance his skill set and expand his career options. As he was looking at various graduate programs around the country, Zak heard good things about Marquette’s graduate program in public service from a friend who is a Milwaukee Public Defender. “I selected the major in public service with a nonprofit specialization because it directly applies to my interest in serving those who are in need (locally, nationally, and internationally) through the nonprofit world,” Zak remarks.
Currently, Zak works at a local nonprofit organization that assists people around the world who wish to continue their education in the United States or be licensed by professional boards to work in the United States. In addition, he has been involved in volunteer work for many years with a focus on the growing field of urban agriculture and growing healthy food. In Milwaukee, he has provided volunteer service to Growing Power, the Victory Garden Initiative, and the Milwaukee County Park's Weed Out event.
Most recently, Zak volunteered in Northern India with a small group from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (where his wife works) to set up a computer lab at a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery. This volunteer group also engaged in English conversation courses with Tibetan ex-political prisoners who are now refugees in Northern India. “Working directly with the Tibetan nuns and ex-political prisoners was an amazing and rewarding experience for all parties involved,” he says. “The work we did was an exchange of cultures, help, and understanding.”
Zak’s busy schedule is a tough balancing act that happens with the help of understanding family members. “Since my wife has very similar interests, we enjoy volunteering together. We also help each other when one or the other is busy at school, work or within the community on separate projects.”
As he continues his educational journey, Zak is learning how to better manage nonprofit organizations and hopes to be able to develop his own nonprofit someday. Currently, he is applying his knowledge, skills and experience to all of his work, whether it is local or abroad.
Matthias Seisay, Public Service '11
President - Seisay Foundation, Inc., Counselor/Recruiter - Educational Opportunity Program, Marquette University
After speaking out against the use of child soldiers in his native Sierra Leone (West Africa), Matthias was forced to flee the country and help those children from afar. Now he gives the children hope through his experience as a child rights advocate.
As head of the nonprofit organization Seisay Foundation, Matthias helps collect used or unwanted bicycles from Milwaukee's police stations, scrap heaps and schools to help Sierra Leone kids get to school. "As a child, I learned what it means to walk a long distance and get to school at 8:00 a.m. Bicycles can serve as a great source of encouragement for these kids to take their schooling seriously."
Matthias and the Seisay Foundation are helping children in other ways by opening a tailor shop there to train former child soldiers marketable skills and a beauty shop where women learn hair-dressing techniques. Seisay hopes to open an auto shop and develop a health clinic there and someday return home. His humanitarian work helped him earn the Desmond Tutu Emerging Leader Award.
Currently, Matthias is helping low-income and first generation students to enter and succeed in higher education through his position as a counselor/recruiter with Marquette University's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Matthias also serves as a great role model for children and others by taking his own education seriously. After he began to study for an MBA at Ottawa University, he learned that the master's degree in Public Service offered at Marquette's College of Professional Studies was a better fit for his interests in questioning why our policy makers/leaders make certain decisions. "Knowing what I know now, it was the best decision I have made in a long time," remarks Seisay.