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.

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80% of My Job is Motivating People

Super Bowl 51 Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Madison Metropolitan School District have a very special connection, La Follette High School alumnus Steve Vollmer, Tampa Bay’s Creative Director.

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“Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Do Something”- Breaking Barriers and Expectations in Journalism

Enjoyiana Nururdin began her work in journalism early, writing for La Follette’s school newspaper in 8th grade via an internship. Writing was something Enjoyiana always knew she wanted to do, and she would rise to the occasion again and again to reach her goals and keep pushing the envelope. Currently, she works for CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell as a Broadcast Associate and serves as the Student Representative on the National Association of Black Journalists Board of Directors.

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Promoting Health Equity for All Patient Populations

West High class of 1996 alumna Sara Camacho is a health care professional who has been working to help make Dane County healthier for the past 20 years. She is a UW graduate who moved to Oaxaca, Mexico after college graduation to perfect her Spanish language skills. Her love for the Spanish language and Latin American culture was reinforced by Sra. Llera and Sr. Zintel during her time at West High.

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Helping Women and Youth Create a Secure Financial Future

La Follette High School class of 1985 alumna Kim Sponem is CEO/President of one of Wisconsin’s largest credit unions, Summit Credit Union. Under her leadership since 2002 (then named CUNA Credit Union) it has grown from $200 million to $4.5 billion in assets; its branch network has expanded from four locations to 46 across South Central and South Eastern Wisconsin, including four in Madison high schools. Summit has become a leader in financial education, the number one mortgage lender in southern Wisconsin and the number one Small Business Administration loan provider by number of loans amongst credit unions in Wisconsin. At the time of becoming CEO nineteen years ago, Kim was named one of the youngest in the country to run a large credit union.

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Actively Participating in the Fight Against COVID-19

Memorial High class of 2015 alumnus Alex Peterson-Weber is actively participating in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. A current student at the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy, Alex and his colleagues have been enlisted by the Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force to help provide immunizations in the surrounding community at pharmacies requesting assistance. 

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Authoring Historical Fiction Set in Madison

After a career as Executive Vice President of an international engine company, author (and Central High class of 1964 alumnus) Kenneth Linde's writing career began as nothing more than memories of events and circumstances, feelings and beliefs, surrounding a near-death experience and his fight against cancer, where the thoughts and emotions fostered a passion that saw him on a prolific trail of publishing seven books in less than four years.

Under the “Waldwick” moniker, Linde’s books are historical fiction set in Madison and Southern Wisconsin, where he takes actual events from 1826 to today and adds fictional characters and how they were affected by the events that happened.

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Helping Rowing Teams Become More Diverse & Competitive



West High class of 2016 alumnus Sam Wheeler is not only a Software Engineer for the UW-Madison Athletic Department, but also the Operations Coordinator for STEM to Stern, an organization dedicated to helping rowing teams become more diverse and competitive. STEM to Stern started in Milwaukee, WI at the Milwaukee Rowing Club in 2017 as a way to eliminate the barriers of participation and increase representation on the team and is now working with clubs across the country to help them develop their own programs. Their goal is to create twenty-five programs across the United States by 2021 and Sam’s role focuses heavily on helping these prospective clubs get their programs off the ground.

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Inspiring Others Through Her Story

East High class of 2006 alumna Nikyra McCann has a story of inspiration. At the age 20 she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, instead of letting her mental illness define her or stop her in life, she has decided to use her story to help and inspire others.

In addition to starting her own business, Still Standing Enerprises, Nikyra has come to be known as an inspriational speaker all over the world. She has shared her story in the newspaper, on NBC 15 News, and also on Good Morning America. She also speaks to thousands on Facebook with Set Apart & Chosen and I Discover Stars.

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Making a Mark in Congress

The Freshman class of Democratic U.S. representatives that took office at the beginning of 2019 had a whole lot of star power, including household names like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Also among the group was Memorial High class of 1998 alumnus Jason Crow. He has played an unexpectedly important role in Washington during his first two years in office.

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Serving His Hometown as Deputy Mayor

West High class of 2011 alumnus Reuben Sanon joined Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway's office as deputy mayor in November 2020. He was selected for the position by Mayor Rhodes-Conway as a result of his "enthusiasm, background, experiences and love of Madison."

As deputy mayor, Sanon represents and assists the Mayor with planning, communication and outreach. His main focus is on connecting marginalized communities in Madison to resources and giving people the power to shape their communities and thrive. 

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