425,000 and growing: University alumni continue to span a variety of fields
May 6, 2014
Graduation day can be a time for current students to look back on their college memories, but it can also be a time for University alumni to reflect on how much they have accomplished since their own days at the University.
Whether past students graduated one year ago or 20 years ago, alumni serve as an important aspect to the University. According to the “Illinois by the numbers” on the University’s website, the University has more than 425,000 living alumni, along with one of the largest U.S. alumni organizations.
The University’s Alumni Association website describes the group as, “a highly diverse and global family that is a powerful force in advancing the world-class stature of the University of Illinois.”
Alumni have accomplished a variety of feats after their time at the University. Here are a few updates on where some alumni are today:
Will Setchell, software engineer at Google
Will Setchell, graduate of 2011, was in the Division of General Studies his freshman year and was accepted into Engineering as a sophomore.
“I wanted to go into mechanical engineering in high school but didn’t get accepted into Illinois’ engineering school,” Setchell said. “After wandering around a bit freshman year, I got hooked on biology and started doing biology research. I started talking with some people in a lab, who were doing bioinformatics work and began helping them with some programming.”
Setchell also minored in the Hoeft Technology and Management program, which he said helped him advance in the technological knowledge he would later need for his career.
“I, like every engineer, want to change the world,” he said. “The most important inventions require both a radical new technology and a business. I want my inventions to succeed, so I needed to learn to build businesses.”
After interning as a student, at companies such as Merrill Lynch and Microsoft, Setchell moved to Palo Alto, Calif. after graduation, and started working as a software engineer for Google.
“I’ve worked on a few different things since I’ve been here, mostly around Android,” Setchell said. “Right now I’m working on a new unlaunched product.”
Setchell said he believes Google is a great job but there are other opportunities out there for him.
“I plan to stay here at least another year, after that who knows?” he said. “I am doing my dream job now, but I’m by no means standing still.”
The Funderburgs, lawyers
Stuart Funderburg, an associate general counsel and assistant secretary at Archer-Daniels Midland Company, received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the University in 1985.
“I grew up in a small farming community and had been active in the Future Farmers of America organization in high school,” Funderburg said. “I really enjoyed it.”
After finding an interest in law, Funderburg received his law degree from the University’s College of Law in 1988. After graduating law school, Funderburg clerked for Hon. Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge.
“I always tell anyone who asks, that being Judge Mills’ clerk was the best job I’ll ever have,” Funderburg said. “Judge Mills would go to lunch with his law clerks nearly every day, and we would discuss the law, and Judge Mills would give us his views on what it means to be a good lawyer and a good person. It was a great way to begin a legal career.” After working for Judge Mills, Funderburg began working at Archer Daniels Midland Company, where he has worked for 16 years.
Funderburg said that he has been lucky enough to be doing “interesting and challenging legal work.” He said his primary duties include corporate security work and governance matters.
Lisa, who is married to Funderburg, also graduated from the University and is a lawyer. Lisa received an undergraduate degree in business administration in 1984 and received her law degree from the University’s College of Law in 1987.
Funderburg currently works as the chief environmental health and safety counsil for Energizer Holdings, Inc.
“My current job is based in St. Louis, but I telecommute from my home in Springfield,” she said. “My job involves managing and directing all of the company’s environmental, health and safety matters. Our company makes Energizer batteries, Schick and Playtex products as well as Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic sun-care products.” After being with Energizer Holdings, Inc. for 24 years, Funderburg said she still finds satisfaction in her job.
“I love my job,” she said. “I have the freedom of working from home, I get to do interesting and challenging work, and I enjoy the folks I work with.” Stuart and Lisa Funderburg have been married since 1990 and have four kids: Katie, a senior at Northwestern University, Maddie, a sophomore at the University of Illinois, Sam, a junior at Springfield High School and Healy, a seventh grader at Lincoln Magnet School in Springfield.
Dianne Mohr, Great Ape behavioral research intern at Lincoln Park Zoo
Dianne Mohr received her degree from the University in integrative biology in 2011.
“I’ve always loved biology,” Mohr said. “It seemed to be the best major suited for me and my desire to get into an animal-related field along with conservation.”
After graduation, Mohr completed two six-month stints as an intern keeper and biologist at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Ark. The facility specializes in rescuing exotic cats as well as bears nationwide.
“There I learned the daily safety and husbandry aspects of caring for over 100 exotic animals every day along with 11 other interns,” she said. “The work days were long and challenging but also very rewarding.”
Mohr has also worked as a zookeeper at Santa’s Village AZoosment Park in East Dundee, Ill. Mohr said she educated visitors and provided care for the various animals, which included small mammals, birds and reptiles. Mohr currently is working at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago as a Great Ape behavioral research intern for the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes.
“I collect behavioral data for projects examining great ape behavior and exhibit use for both the gorillas and chimpanzees,” Mohr said.
Although Mohr said she is enjoying her internship, she is still searching for her dream job.
“I’m keeping my options open,” Mohr said. “My dream job would be one that allows me to help improve animal welfare for captive or wild animals and where I can contribute to conservation education efforts.”
Christine can be reached at [email protected]