Alumni Stories that Inspire

One of Madison Public Schools' greatest assets is the diversity of our students and their experiences, a strength exemplified by the variety of our alumni stories. We hope you find inspiration in these stories, featured with great pride.

Do you have a story you’d like to share?

Roots of Learning: The Richard Sisters Reflect on their Strong Foundation from Madison Public Schools

Meet Marty Richard Meek (center), Carol Richard (left), and Laura Richard Thomson (right), three sisters who share not only a bond of sisterhood but also a deep connection to Madison public schools. All three began their educational journey at Glendale Elementary (renamed Dr. Virginia Henderson Elementary in 2020), eventually graduating from La Follette High School in 1970, 1972, and 1977, respectively. They are three of six siblings in their tightly-knit family.

Read more

Coding Continuum: Alonso Del Rio’s Journey from Student to Mentor

Madison West High class of 2016 alum Alonso Del Rio is a software developer on the MyChart team at Epic, a career that allows him to embrace his passion for technology. His venture into the world of computer science (CS) took root during fifth grade as a participant in the inaugural Scratch Club at Shorewood Elementary School. Scratch, a free programming language designed to make coding enjoyable and accessible for children, captivated Alonso. Reflecting on those early days, he fondly recalls “I just had so much fun with Scratch—I loved having the ability to make my own games and goofy animations and learning about cool tricks to use in my projects. I didn’t fully realize that these tricks were tied to the foundations of programming until years later!” 

Read more

Memorial Alum Now Associate Superintendent of High Schools

In mid-October of 2023, MMSD announced that Jay Affeldt, former district administrator and high school principal, has been named Associate Superintendent of High Schools. In this role, he will provide instructional leadership and coaching to the district’s six high school principals to ensure strong school cultures as well as provide oversight to the district’s secondary athletics programs.

Read more

Shana Dall’Osto

Making a Direct Impact on Other Families Who Need It Most

Madison West High School class of 1997 alumna Shana Dall’Osto is the executive director of Roots & Wings, a family foundation created in late 2019 with a special interest in funding nonprofits across four key categories: family safety, health, early learning, and basic needs. For Dall’Osto, it’s her dream job. Not only is the family behind Roots & Wings her very own – her mom is Judy Faulkner, founder of the Verona-based, multibillion-dollar health tech software company Epic Systems – but Dall’Osto also has an extensive background in nonprofits, and a passion for service work focused on early childhood.

Read more

Paul Hendricks

The Art of the Pivot: From IBM Exec to Investment Advisor

West High class of 1974 alumnus Paul Hendricks is the managing director for a small, completely independent registered investment advisory business. Based in Charlottesville, VA, his firm uses state-of-the-art information processing technology to provide portfolio management services at a surprisingly modest cost to high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) and small institutions. Simply put, and in his own words, he’s “just a humble guy helping a few of [his] friends amass more money.”

Read more

West High Alum Reflects on the Value of Sports

Written by Lisa Gaumnitz

Jeff Mack Jr. strides into Starbucks on a wintry February day, looking much like the 240-pound outside linebacker who made 298 tackles for the University of Wisconsin football team 20 years earlier, but sounding very much like the banker he is today. 

Park Bank’s first vice president for business development is talking on his cell phone and holds up his index finger to indicate he’ll be a few minutes longer. When he wraps up and sits down for an interview, he is still crunching numbers in his head and mulling over possible returns for the client who just hung up. 

“Do you follow interest rates?” he asks and launches into an explanation of cap rates for real estate and how current high-interest rates are affecting his client’s decision-making about buying an investment property. 

Sports and math have helped Mack succeed since he graduated from West High School in 1999. These intertwined loves are why he’s helping promote Madison Public School Foundation’s Play Every Day initiative to make sure students have what they need to succeed individually and to work toward the common good. 

Read more

“Playground Lessons” Helped Propel West Alum to Success On and Off the Field

Written by Lisa Gaumnitz

Ten-year-old Donnel Thompson raced to get ready early for school so he could play touch football at the Randall Elementary playground before the bell rang. Teacher Fred Tiemann– Mr. T to the kids – quarterbacked for both teams and the diverse group of kids competed hard, had fun, and were back at it again every recess.   

“It was what we wanted to do,” recalls the West High alum, a walk-on for the University of Wisconsin football team who grew into a leading tackler, played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and now leads as vice president of national accounts for Direct Supply, Inc. in Milwaukee.   

Read more

East High alum helps lead the way to a better Madison

Photo Credit: ArrowStar Photography

Written by Lisa Gaumnitz

David Aguayo learned to value education from his mother, a daughter of migrant workers, who earned her teaching degree while raising a family. 

He learned hard work and dependability from his father, an Ecuadorian immigrant.

And from Susie Hobart, his fourth and fifth-grade teacher at Lake View Elementary on Madison’s North Side, he learned he could do great things.    

Read more

Breaking Barriers with Booker Botanicals

By Tatiana Dennis

From an early age Alex Booker knew the importance of having hands in the soil. Booker’s grandparents were farmers in Mississippi, a skill that turned out to be generational. Booker started gardening when he was just 10 years old by caring for plants around the house. His mother saw not only the passion but the skills that Booker had for gardening and encouraged him to embrace it and provided him with the tools he needed to garden more extensively at home.

Read more

Daniel Kigeya Returns to West High

By Lisa Gaumnitz

Daniel Kigeya’s graduation from West High School in 1997 was one of the loneliest days of his life. 

“I remember walking across the stage and then leaving there and going home and not celebrating,” says Kigeya, (pronounced Key-gay-ya) who returns to West this fall as its new principal. 

Read more