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Alumni Outcomes

Megan (Wesler) Larsen ’12

Megan (Wesler) Larsen ’12 MPAS ’13 said she is grateful for the well-rounded education she received a Butler. So, no doubt, are her patients.

At the time of this interview, Larsen worked as a Physician Assistant (PA) in the emergency rooms at Community North and Community East hospitals in Indianapolis. Now she works in Trauma/Emergency surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago, where she sometimes has to deliver the worst news possible.

“The first conversation that I had like that takes the breath out of you,” she said. “You don’t know what to say and you don’t want to say it wrong. The first time I had to have that conversation, I brought my attending physician in with me and we had that conversation together. The next time, you do it on your own and you develop your own way to approach it.”

Larsen said that while nothing can truly prepare you for moments like that, her Butler education taught her “ways to cope and think on your feet and be resourceful and use others around you. That’s been very beneficial to me in my specific career path.”

Larsen came to Butler from New Paris, Ohio, a town of 1,500. By the time she arrived on campus, she’d made up her mind to be a PA. She wanted the flexibility to be able to change specialties and the opportunity to finish school faster than physicians do.

While she worked on her five-year degree, she also managed to fit in swimming for the Butler team, participating in Kappa Kappa Gamma, and working with the Timmy Foundation for Global Health.

“I’m truly grateful for the five years I got to spend here,” she said. “At Butler, it’s so much more than a degree. The way you’re taught at Butler—the way I was taught at Butler—it digs a little bit deeper. You learn so much about so much that when you go out into world, you’re not just prepared for your specific career but you also are worldly and you have a touch of humanitarianism.”

Megan Wesler Larsen
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Megan (Wesler) Larsen ’12

  Her ER patients will be glad she learned her profession at Butler.

Maria Porter ’12

Maria Porter ’12 grew up in Fishers, Indiana—a hop, skip, and a jump, and maybe another hop, from Butler University—and intended to put some distance between her and her hometown when she went to college. But she visited Butler, met professors and others students, and realized that “this was where I needed to be.”

Time proved her right. Initially, Porter was unsure what she wanted to study. Something to do with technology, media, art, or maybe even theatre, she thought. So she started as an Exploratory major, which gave her time to figure out what she wanted to do. After shadowing a graphic designer, she found her calling.

Four years later—after a college career that included two years as a Butler Collegian photographer, a semester abroad in Australia, and an internship with Indiana Humanities—she was one of the first graduates from Butler’s newly created Art + Design major.

“Even though it was a new program and we were still figuring stuff out, we were all in it together and the professors”—Elizabeth Mix, Gautam Rao, and Leah Gauthier—“made sure our needs were being met and we were having a good time doing it.”

Since graduating, Porter has worked as the Graphic Services Manager for the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, which has 10 offices, including in downtown Indianapolis, where she’s based. There, she works with attorneys and the marketing team, human resources, their diversity committee—anyone who needs visual communication.

Porter recalled that while at Butler, she took a Global and Historical Studies course on women, in which the professor encouraged the students to figure out how to learn and grow from listening to the opinions of people who had different backgrounds, beliefs, and ideas than they did.

“In my job, everyone’s differing needs and opinions and priorities are something that I have to balance on a daily basis,” she said. “That’s something I learned at Butler.”

Maria Porter
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Maria Porter ’12

  She's using what she learned in Art + Design every day.

Mara Olson ’15

When Mara Olson ’15 embarked upon her search for the perfect college, she knew it would take a special school to support both her academic and athletic interests.

A self-proclaimed science nerd with a proclivity for the creative arts and the drive to run competitively, it became clear to Olson that Butler’s small class sizes and big-time Division I athletics would make for a seamless college fit.

“A lot of people look at my interests as maybe a little bit eclectic or even confused,” Olson said. “But I see it as a good way to get my tentacles out into the world and experience it all. College is what you make of it, and if you are willing to push for what you want, a school like Butler will give it to you.”

In her four years at Butler, Olson participated in four national championship races and competed in countless more national-level meets while at the same time nurturing her academic interests.

In addition, she took the required science classes for her major and plethora of minors, but she also found ways to grow in new areas through art and writing classes.

For Olson, a busy schedule was a small price to pay for well-rounded academic exposure and athletic success. After graduating with a major in biology and minors in Neuroscience, Spanish, and Chemistry, she moved to Boulder, Colorado, to compete as a professional runner for Adidas. Olson has continued her sponsored running in San Francisco, where she's now in medical school at the University of California San Francisco.

When opportunity knocked at Butler, Olson said, she was able to make it happen.

“It’s not because I was an athlete," she said. "It’s because I was a student. My professors had a genuine personal interest in every student. It’s a really incredible thing to experience in college.”

Mara Olson
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Mara Olson ’15

  One major, three minors, one huge athletic success.

Josh Pedde ’04

Joshua Pedde came to Butler in 2000 wanting to get into choral conducting—and did he ever come to the right place. Sixteen years later, Pedde was named as the new Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir (ICC). He's now in his second year.

Pedde took over for Henry Leck, the longtime Butler professor who founded the choir 32 years ago and grew it to the point that it provides music education to more than 5,000 children in central Indiana. Each week, the choir holds 110 rehearsals and music classes at Butler, where the organization is housed.

“I’m really honored that the person who started it chose me to take over,” Pedde said. “It’s the biggest compliment.”

Pedde had chosen Butler based on recommendations from several of his high school music teachers in Kokomo, Indiana, who knew Leck and the quality of the music program. “A lot of arrows kept pointing to Butler,” Pedde said. “Once I came to campus, it just felt like home. It felt right to me.” He met Leck at his audition and Leck became Pedde's choir director his freshman year. That year, Pedde walked into the ICC office to ask about becoming a choral conductor.

He said Leck and many others at Butler instilled in him values including hard work and a strong moral and ethical compass. “You put in your time, you put in your effort, but you always bring your best to the table,” he said. “Bring quality and it will always pay off for you.” He also became interested in political science, which broadened his view of the world and the part music can play in creating common culture.

Pedde received his Bachelor of Vocal Music Education and was a graduate assistant in 2005 and 2006 while earning his Master of Choral Conducting. After graduating, he taught elementary school in Zionsville and continued to work with the ICC. Then, four years ago, they created the position of assistant artistic director, and he joined the choir full-time.

“I cannot say thank you enough to the faculty and staff at Butler,” he said. “They are truly top-notch. What they put into their students and what they give is incredible. And the way they care about them as a whole person and help them mature into those people we see out in the community is absolutely wonderful.”

Josh Pedde
Alumni OutcomesArts & CulturePeople

Josh Pedde ’04

  He learned from the master. Now he’s taking over for the master.

Jessie Eastman ’15

Less than a year after graduating from Butler’s Lacy School of Business, Jessie Eastman ’15 was working at Sun King Brewing Company, Indianapolis’ second largest brewing company, and feeling grateful for her Butler education.

“Everything I was able to do at Butler really prepared me,” she said at the time. “It is such a great community that encourages you to push yourself to be the best you can be.”

Eastman had interned at Sun King during her fall semester senior year, and she ended up working for them part-time during her spring semester as well.

“Something that I will forever value from the Lacy School of Business is the requirement of two internships,” she said. “My second internship actually landed me my full-time position.”

Internship experience wasn’t the only thing that the Lacy School of Business provided. Eastman said things like cross subject learning really prepared her for the real world.

“I was a marketing major, but I took classes in accounting, classes in finance, and entrepreneurship,” Eastman said. “In the Lacy School of Business, it is real life, real business and it is crazy how true that is. If I didn’t realize that during in my undergraduate studies; I am definitely realizing it now.”

Eastman stayed with Sun King as the Community Development and Events facilitator, working with over 350 nonprofits across Indianapolis, until the end of May 2017, when she moved to Detroit. She is now with a company called Shift Digital, working as a Digital Strategy Associate.

"The company has tons of clients (mainly automotive) but I sit specifically on the BMW team," she said.

Jessie Eastman
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Jessie Eastman ’15

“Something that I will forever value from the Lacy School of Business is the requirement of two internships.”

Marco Rosas ’16

Marco Rosas came to Butler as a Biology major. He graduated with a degree in Recording Industry Studies and went into a career that is making him happy.

“I always had a huge passion for music, whether it’s listening to music, playing music, or talking about music, and I really fell in love with the audio production side of the program,” Rosas said. “I always wanted to be part of the music-making process, whether it’s at a studio recording the music or helping to promote the music.”

As a Recording Industries Studies major, Rosas participated in the Butler Music Industry Association club, which records student musicians and their original compositions. That helped him hone his skills. He also had an internship with Nuvo, Indianapolis’ alternative newspaper, where he worked with Sarah Murrell ’10 on a podcast about the Indianapolis food scene.

 

 

But Butler was more than his major. One course he took on climate change and its effects on human behavior gave him a deeper appreciation of nature.

“I have fond memories of going to Holcomb Gardens on a clear night, laying down and just looking at the stars,” he said. “The campus is just beautiful, and the class made me realize that those experiences in that class were not just, ‘Oh, I’m going for a walk,’ but ‘I’m going to help my mind clear itself.’”

After graduation, thanks to “an amazing recommendation” from Cutler Armstrong, who oversees the Recording Industry Studies program, Rosas landed a job with Tour Design Creative, which makes TV and radio commercials and posters to promote concert tours. His job in quality control is to make sure the information in the ads is accurate and that there are no audio mistakes.

“Cutler told me I’d get out of the program what I put into it, and that is exactly right,” Rosas said. “But the rewards are greater than anything I could imagine. I never thought I would work at a place like this, and I would not be here if it was not for Cutler and that program. Going to Butler was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.”

Marco Rosas
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Marco Rosas ’16

  Going to Butler was one of the best decisions I've made in my life.

Lauren Buenger ’10

Sometimes, parents just know. Lauren (Miller) Buenger’s mom knew that her daughter was good with people and detail oriented, and she thought Lauren would make a perfect Pharmacy major. Buenger’s father knew, after visiting schools, that she favored Butler.

“It was the only place I asked for a shirt,” she said.

Ultimately, Buenger, who initially wanted to major in Chemistry, knew too. Today, she is a Clinical Pharmacist in the Emergency Department at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. There, she works with physicians and nurses, making recommendations about which drug therapy would be best for a patient or how to best administer the doses.

“I also get to talk to patients and families and council them about their medications and answer their questions,” she said. “And then, because I work in the Emergency Department, if there’s an emergency situation, I’m in the room with the team, trying to get medications for the patient as fast and safely as possible.”

Buenger said that when she started in Butler’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the only pharmacists she knew about worked in grocery stores. “I didn’t realize all the different things you could do as a pharmacist,” she said. Through classes, rotations, and job shadowing, she learned.

While in school, she did two rotations at Riley Hospital and, as her PharmD project, interviewed patients about their medication allergies to find the rates of true allergies versus symptoms reported as allergies.

She also made time to play flute and piccolo in marching band and basketball band, and served as President of Kappa Kappa Psi, the band fraternity, where she met her future husband, Eric Buenger ’12.

After graduation, she did a general pharmacy residency through IU Health, a pediatric second-year residency at Riley, and a year at Cook Children’s hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. She and Eric moved back to Indiana so she could take the position at Riley.

She credits Butler with preparing her well.

“Part of how I was able to meet people and be prepared to get a competitive residency like at IU Health was because of my training at Butler and the rotations that I had,” she said. “That set up the chain of events that led me to this position.”

Lauren Buenger
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Lauren Buenger ’10

  I didn't realize all the different things you could do as a pharmacist.

Katrina Rodriguez ’15

Katrina Rodriguez is part of the 100 percent—the job placement rate for the College of Education. Since graduating in 2015, she has been working at the Brownsburg (Indiana) Early Childhood Center, first as a Teacher in the developmental preschool and now in an administrative role as a Transition Teacher who helps parents get special-education services for their children.

She said Butler prepared her well—in small classes taught by professors who have vast experience teaching in elementary school classrooms as well as college classrooms.

“We got to student-teach for a whole year, which I found was not really common in most other colleges,” she said. “And getting you in the classroom in your freshman year to observe was awesome.”

Rodriguez’s mother was a kindergarten teacher, and she wanted to follow in her footsteps. She chose Butler based largely on its placement rate for education, which has been at 100 percent for more than a decade. “The 100 percent placement rate on the poster they have in front of the College was really eye-opening.”

While at Butler, Rodriguez did her student-teaching at the Butler Lab School, a St. Mary’s preschool classroom, and in a fourth-grade classroom in Wayne Township. She also was part of the team of Education, Pharmacy, and Business students who wrote and published the book Max Greene and the Vaccine Team, which was designed to help children get over their fear of shots. In addition, she was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and participated in a trip to Italy to visit schools that use the Reggio Emelia teaching method, which is the foundation of Butler’s College of Education teaching.

Rodriguez’s pride in her education is on full display on her office wall, where she has hung her diploma (Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, cum laude), Honors Program-High Honors Certificate, and Alternative Special Education Licensure Certificate (2016).

And there will be more: Rodriguez is now back at Butler, working on her Master's in Effective Teaching and Leadership.

Katrina Rodriguez
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Katrina Rodriguez ’15

  We got to student-teach for a year, which was not really common in most other colleges.

Eric Buenger ’12

You won’t find his name in any record books or box scores, but Eric Buenger registered an assist for the 2010 Butler men’s basketball team.

It was on the plane home after the win over Kansas State in the Elite Eight. Buenger, who played baritone in the Basketball Band, was sitting across the aisle from Coach Brad Stevens. Stevens asked his wife if she had any sour cream and onion potato chips. She didn’t. But Buenger did. He gave his chips to Stevens, which prompted the coach to say, “You’re the man!”

“‘You’re the man,’” Buenger said, still reveling in the memory. “Brad Stevens just called me the man—after all that just happened on the court. But no, I’m the man.”

That’s just one of many happy Butler memories for Buenger, who chose Butler because it offered the major he wanted—Actuarial Science—taught in small classes. He said he made up his mind after coming to campus to interview for a departmental scholarship. Afterward, he received a handwritten card from the people he interviewed with saying how excited they were to potentially have him as a student.

“With that level of connection I felt in the interview and then that follow-up afterward, I thought: ‘These are going to be people who care about me and my progression and my career.’ That’s really what drew me in. And then the faculty was great once I got there.”

During Buenger’s time at Butler, he worked as a Resident Assistant in Ross Hall for three years, which helped him develop interpersonal and conflict resolution skills as well as the ability to communicate in front of a large audience. “All of those things definitely helped me moving forward in my professional life.” He also played in the Marching Band, was a member of the national honorary band fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi, interned with Prudential on the East Coast, and met his future wife, Lauren, a Pharmacy major.

After graduation, Buenger worked for Torchmark Corp. in Texas before moving back to Indiana to work for Anthem. He said Butler prepared him well for his career. While in school, he even passed his first two actuarial exams (out of upwards of a dozen milestones he'll have to pass).

“That,” he said, “really helped me with my job search. They saw that I had two of these exams down, and that was definitely a good starting spot.”

Eric Buenger
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Eric Buenger ’12

  “These are going to be people who really care about me.”

Amber Mills ’14

Amber Mills ’14 said Butler provided her with a blank canvas—a fitting analogy for someone whose profession is graphic designer.

“I got to explore who I was, what I was passionate about, and who I wanted to become, and then Butler gave me the tools and the confidence to go out and get it,” she said.

Mills, one of the University’s first Art + Design majors, is now a Graphic Designer at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, the largest fully professional resident non-profit theater in Indiana. In that role, she works on the website (irtlive.com), designs ads, marketing materials, and does some photography. The job “changes by the minute,” she said. She even designed the theater’s current logo during its 2015 rebranding.

She said Butler prepared her well—whether it was what she learned in the classroom or in her internship with the University’s Marketing and Communications Department, where she designed the Hinkle Fieldhouse replica doghouse that is still on display in the campus bookstore. Mills did four internships while in school.

“Butler goes beyond teaching just the basic skills and theories in the classroom,” she said. “It teaches you how to communicate effectively. It teaches you how to solve problems. It teaches you how to think critically. And then it sends you out into the world to apply those skills and really gain the experience that sets you apart. There’s nothing like going into a job interview right after you graduate and being able to say, ‘Hey, I know I just graduated from school, but I’ve been making money as a graphic designer for two years and here’s my portfolio and my references to back that up.’”

Mills grew up in New Carlisle, in northern Indiana, and wanted a small school in a city. She found Butler to be “a nice steppingstone” with a community feel that reminded her of home. And she found people who are “exemplifying and living out the golden rule—being kind to one another, helping each other out, lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down. That’s the Butler Way.”

Amber Mills
Alumni OutcomesArts & CulturePeople

Amber Mills ’14

  Butler provided her with a blank canvas.

Ron Smith ’88, MS ’96

Ron Smith ’88, MS ’96 likes to tell a story about his Butler experiences. It starts when he was a first-year student in an education course where he was expected to spend time in a classroom. At that time, he thought he was going to be a high school teacher and a coach, but the professor placed him in a kindergarten class.

Smith recalled: “After 10 minutes of arguing with him about my placement, he said, ‘Ron you’ll learn a lot about child development. I’m not changing the placement. I think you should do this.’”

Smith was assigned to a male kindergarten teacher who was “magic” in front of young children, and he ended up changing his major that semester to elementary education.

Two years later, Smith was taking an early childhood class focused on preschool. The professor put him in a preschool setting for field experience. Again, he stayed after class and argued with the professor, saying he would probably teach kindergarten or older and didn’t want to work in a preschool because “there’s no money in preschool.”

“And he said, “Ron, you’ll learn a lot about child development. I’m not changing the placement. I think you should do this.”

“I did,” Smith said. “And I loved the preschool experience. It was magic working with those children.”

A few years later, Smith became the director of Warren Township’s Early Childhood Center, one of the largest preschools in the Midwest.

“And I made a good living doing it,” Smith said with a smile. “I share that story often with students from the College of Education to let them know that sometimes professors see things in you that you might not see in yourself yet. It’s good to pay attention to what they have to say.”

Smith, who grew up in Portage, Indiana, came to Butler on a cross country and track scholarship. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, he taught elementary school for seven years while earning his master’s in school administration at Butler. He took a job in Wayne Township as an assistant principal, then spent 10 years running Warren Township’s Early Childhood Center.

He’s now in his sixth year as principal of the IPS/Butler Laboratory School, a partnership between Butler and Indianapolis Public Schools.

Smith said he owes his success to Butler.

“Butler is a unique place,” he said. “And it’s a really special place. I never felt like a cog in the wheel or a number here. My experience was very personal, and the connections that I made with my professors here at Butler continue to this day.”

Ron Smith
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Ron Smith ’88, MS ’96

  The Lab School principal has learned to adapt.

Lester Burris ’12

Lester Burris ’12 said he received a great education from Butler’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences—especially the lessons in dealing with the ever-changing role of the pharmacist.

“I learned at Butler that a career spans several different jobs or even roles within those jobs,” he said. “Pharmacy is probably going to continue to change for as long as I’m working, so it’s important to be adaptable to that.”

That information proved to be important because since graduating, Burris has moved from CVS to Kmart to his own pharmacy. In May 2016, Burris, Josh Anderson ’07, and Josh’s uncle Steve Anderson ’91 founded Panacea Pharmacy inside the new Lucky’s Market store in Bloomington, Indiana. (They have since opened another pharmacy in Hope, Indiana.)

Suddenly, not only did Burris need to know all about medications, but he had to learn the business of pharmacy. The Panacea team had to contract with insurance companies, figure out their inventory, and develop their business model—which includes a more holistic approach to providing medication. Among their innovations: Packaging a patient’s medications together so they don’t have to open multiple pill bottles, and a smartphone app that makes it easier to fill prescriptions.

“We’re trying to change the way pharmacy’s done,” he said. “The main thing we’re trying to focus on improving is medication adherence. That’s a big focus of the Affordable Care Act—preventing readmission to the hospital. And one big cause of that is medication non-compliance.”

Burris grew up in Mitchell, Indiana, south of Bloomington, and knew he wanted to study pharmacy in college. He chose Butler because it’s closer to his home than Purdue is, and he was able to walk on and play football. After a year on the team as kicker—mostly place kicking, and a little punting—he figured he wasn’t going to see much playing time. He talked to the coaching staff and asked if he could help out.

“I was able to stay involved with the football team, which was one of my best experiences at Butler for sure,” Burris said.

Burris said by the time he graduated, he was well prepared for the state and national pharmacy licensing exams. As for running his own pharmacy, Burris said he’s enjoying the opportunity to improve patients’ health.

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Lester Burris ’12

  He and two other Butler alumni are looking to redefine how pharmacy is practiced.

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