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Curious Minds - Expert Profiles

Expert Profiles

If you have ever wondered how the University of Wisconsin–Madison decides which new degrees to offer, Jessica Viesselmann is the person to ask.

As the market research manager at UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies, Viesselmann is currently working on an education initiative to find out what degrees nontraditional students, such as working professionals, would be interested in pursuing. She does this through a four-part process that involves a competitive market analysis, employment predictions, employer interviews, and surveys. The goal is to understand where the jobs are, what skills they require, and which of those skills prospective employees lack.

Viesselmann (in photo at left) wasn’t familiar with market research until she took a class in the field while working on her undergraduate degree in accounting. “It was at that time that I knew I found what I wanted to do,” she said. “Market research had the right mix of creativity and math.”

Read more: Market Researchers Use Creativity, Math to Inform Decision Making


Troy Freund and I go way back, to childhood days riding the bus, being in the same classes, playing in high school band, and living down a country road from each other. What a joy it was to reconnect, more than twenty years later! This time, it’s photography that brought us together. 


A comic book enthusiast, Freund dreamed of turning his childhood stories and illustrations, photocopied and distributed to high school friends, into a best-selling series! However, a course requirement at Milwaukee’s Cardinal Stritch University opened the door to exploring a design genre he hadn’t previously considered: photography.


Says the independent photographer and owner of the Milwaukee-based Troy Freund Photography, “I haven't encountered anything else that compels me the way photography does. Doing photography gives me opportunities to problem solve, to meet new people, to go new places.” Freund specializes in commercial and editorial photography; his clients include local newsweeklies, trade publications, in-flight magazines, and design/marketing firms.  


One goal of designers, the professional “identity” Curious Minds has recently been exploring, is to create or capture balance. Whether it’s in his daily life or through his photographs, Freund takes the idea of balance, a key “Rule of Composition,” seriously. “I try to practice mindfulness . . . being a good, active listener,” he says. “I always remember people are more important than things." Yoga, running, and the outdoors also bring balance to Freund’s life.


Read more: Designer in Action: Freund "Compelled" by Photography


Archivist Kevin Abing’s professional journey began with a deep curiosity about and appreciation for the past. Years later, he’s still doing what he loves: preserving documents and other artifacts, assisting students and scholars with their research, responding to requests from the community, and managing the archival collection at the Milwaukee County Historical Society (MCHS).


“After a good deal of soul searching, I knew coming out of college that I wanted to make history—in one capacity or another—my career,” says Abing. “Having a background in history helps me appreciate and want to understand the historical roots of an event,” which requires “placing it in a broader context.” 


And what makes a historian an “expert”? According to Abing, it’s “the depth and breadth of someone’s knowledge of a particular field,” something he acquired by taking “full advantage of each and every opportunity . . . to learn from the best.” 


Read more: Reflecting on the Past, Understanding the Future

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-Am.” 

This line from Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s book has become the underlying philosophy behind the Foreign Student work of husband-and-wife team Marc and Constance Fang. According to Constance, you need to be open to new experiences, try new things, and make sure to “get a good grip on yourself.” 

The Fangs, longtime WCATY donors, have been involved with Foreign Student education and cultural awareness in the state of Wisconsin for more than thirty years. According to Marc and Constance, experts in their field “walk their talk” by advocating for foreign students in the community and helping educate the greater community about the value of foreign student programs. 

Read more: Husband-Wife Team Supports Foreign Students

Steven Stack is not new to the WCATY community: for nine years he has taught popular acting and playwriting classes at ALP, STEP, and YSSP. However, Stack is new to WCATY’s online Academy, where he will teach for the first time this year. According to Stack, “It will be great to get to know more WCATY students, and in a new platform.”

Although Stack has an extensive background in teaching, acting, and writing, he also is crazy about TV. He admits to being “obsessed” with Supernatural, the television series in which the fictional Winchester brothers battle an array of demons, ghosts, and monsters. He also religiously watches 1980’s and 1990’s sitcoms and keeps up with current television shows. And he identifies with popular Dr. Phil McGraw, the clinical psychologist and talk show host, noting that McGraw likely would endorse an adage that drives Stack’s creativity: “Be better than you were yesterday.”

Read more: Steven Stack Takes His Act Online for WCATY