University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

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Former Planetarium Staff and Interns

Gazelle Arga

Gazelle Arga (Fall 2011)

I am an undergraduate student majoring in journalism with a concentration in strategic communications. I am also getting a certificate in Digital Arts. I got involved with the Planetarium after working with the staff during a campaigns course in the spring of 2011. My interests are focused on Advertising, PR, and Graphic Design and I am looking forward to using these skills in my internship with the Planetarium. In my free time I enjoy photography, writing poetry, reading, yoga, and tennis.

Gena Batchelor

Gena Batchelor (Summer 2010)

I am majoring in strategic communication. I have always had a fascination with astronomy but never got the chance to visit many planetariums. I began interning at the UWM planetarium during the summer of 2010 and have found the experience to be very intriguing and fulfilling. I was born and raised in Milwaukee and I enjoy singing and writing music in my spare time.

Aneta Bista

Aneta Bista (Spring 2009)

While at UWM as a journalism student I was given the opportunity to intern at the planetarium. As a media intern I created newsletters, put forth efforts in developing a possible membership program, and drafted and distributed news releases to create publicity for events and shows. I graduated in the fall of 2009 and aspire to continue my career in public relations.

Megan Bloomquist

Megan Blomquist

I hope to pursue a career in veterinary medicine after I receive a degree in biology at UWM. I am in the University Band and I play the flute. I am also planning on joining the UWM Panther Cheerleading Squad in the fall of next year. I have always had an interest in astronomy. When I was given the opportunity to be involved with the planetarium I was excited, because I knew that I was going to be able to use the university telescopes to observe the night sky.

kendra brown

Kendra Brown (Spring 2014 - Summer 2014)

I am a fresh graduate from the Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies program here at UWM. I have been able to grow and expand my knowledge of space while writing and designing as an intern at the planetarium. In my free time I enjoy playing ukulele, singing, and traveling.

Larry Buroker

Larry Buroker

I worked for the planetarium from late 2006 until May 2009, when I graduated from UWM with a B.S. in physics and a minor in business. I grew up on a farm near the Dells and worked at Chula Vista Theme Park before coming to Milwaukee. I have been interested in stars, planets, and the endless possibilities of space as far back as I can remember, which is probably why I chose to pursue physics.

Steph Chadek

Stephanie Chadek

I am an undergraduate senior majoring in strategic communication and women's studies. I am also working towards a certificate in digital art and culture. I started working with the planetarium as an intern during Summer 2011 and have since helped the planetarium send out its media and publicize its programs and special events. I enjoy advertising this unique resource to our campus and local community. In my spare time I enjoy crafting, reading, and all things Taylor Swift. I love publication design and interior design.

Tommy Domenico

Tommy Domenico (Fall 2011)

I am currently undecided in a major but am leaning towards something in computer science because of my skills and vast interest for computers. After my trip to the planetarium for Astronomy 103 I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it. I have always had a large interest in astronomy and even considered it as a major before coming to college. In my spare time I enjoy working out and training in jiu-jitsu and kick boxing. I also enjoy working with computers and playing video games with my friends whenever I have the time

Zach Fleischmann

Zach Fleischmann

I am an undergraduate student at UWM pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, with which I hope to pursue a career in the rapidly growing field of corrosion control. I started working for the planetarium in early 2009. There has always been an interest for me in astronomy, though I couldn't see myself doing it for a career. I enjoy riding my bike whenever I can and having a great time with my friends. I have lived my whole life in the Milwaukee area.

Sara Gil-Casanova

Sara Gil-Casanova

I fell in love with astronomy when I read Cosmos by Carl Sagan. I was about 13 years old and I spent the following years reading all the books I could find about the universe. Later, I decided that I had to learn more physics to better understand astronomy. After finishing my Physics degree, I specialized in Science Communication hoping to help bring physics, and astronomy, closer to the public. Since then I have worked as a science writer, journalist and contents researcher. I am especially proud of my last children's book about women astronomers, because I think they deserve much more credit and popularity than they usually get. Since January 2009 I have worked for the UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium and the UWM LIGO Scientific Collaboration Group.

Mrinal Gokhale

Mrinal Gokhale (Summer 2011)

I am an undergraduate pursuing a degree in Marketing and a minor in journalism. I would like to work in market research after I graduate. As a new Journalism intern at the Planetarium as of summer 2011, I hope to gain experience in my field of study. I have enjoyed Planetarium events in the past, and I think my background and skill will enrich the team as well as broaden my interest in astronomy.

Rose Hebein

Rose Hebein

I began working for the planetarium in January 2010 after interning in the summer of 2009. Having grown up near Chicago and often visiting the Adler Planetarium for field trips and outings, astronomy has long been a part of my life. Now as an undergraduate student majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications I am excited to use my skills to contribute to the planetarium at UWM. I am also pursuing a minor in art history as well as a digital arts certificate. I'm looking forward to learning even more about the interesting world of astronomy as the year continues.

Mandie Heidenreich

Mandie Heidenreich

My name is Mandie Heidenreich, and I am to be certified in Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence Education, Cultures and Communities, Environmental Education, Natural Science, and Language Arts. I will be finishing my undergraduate certificate at the end of May 2009, after which I plan to attend the Milwaukee Montessori Institute for one year to become a teacher with a Master's degree in Montessori Education.

Holly Jeffords (Summer 2009)

I am an undergraduate student at UWM studying Journalism & Media Communication, Mandarin Chinese, and East Asian culture. I grew up in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and have lived here my entire life, so I'm looking forward to studying abroad in Beijing in the near future. I've always loved the night sky, and often stargazed while up north at my great grandmother's house, so the opportunity to work with the planetarium was one I couldn't pass up.

Gareth Johnson

Gareth Johnson (Fall 2012 - 2014)

I recently graduated from PSOA with a BFA in Digital Studio Practice focusing on graphic, web, and motion design. I really enjoy designing for the planetarium. The universe is incredibly vast and beautiful and we’ve been born at an incredibly perfect time in history to experience it – right on the brink of becoming a full-blown spacefaring civilization. I think it’ll give us a lot of perspective, and being involved in getting others interested in that goal is pretty rewarding. In my free time, when I have it (and money,) I’m a computer-builder-hobbyist and gamer, photographer, and freelance graphic and web designer.


Matt Karwoski

I began my internship at the UWM Planetarium in Spring 2011. I worked at the Planetarium until February 2012. It was a great experience; I learned a lot and the staff was extremely nice. Definitely consider it if you're looking for a JAMS for-credit internship. I'm going to miss you guys! Peace, Matt

Ellie Knipfer

Ellie Knipfer (Fall 2012 - Spring 2015)

I am a undergraduate student at the UWM majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Psychology. Working at the Planetarium, my organization and time management skills have increased tremendously, as well as my knowledge for astronomy. My expanded knowledge and skills I am obtaining from the job will stay with me forever and will help me prepare for my future. After I earn my degree from UWM, I plan to attend medical school to become a plastic surgeon. I have a long journey ahead of me, and I am honored to be a part of the wonderful Planetarium team!

Kaitlyn Ann Kohl

Kaitlyn Ann Kohl (Fall 2010)

I am in my fourth year at UWM, majoring in journalism with a strategic communication concentration. This is my first year interning at the Manfred Olson Planetarium. It is a great privilege to work alongside a team with such passion for astronomy. Upon graduation I look forward to a career in advertising copy writing, and will always have the starry night sky to remind me of my time at the planetarium.

Rachel Korom

Rachel Korom

I am an undergraduate student at UWM double majoring in Jewish Studies and History. I began working for the planetarium in the summer of 2009. I have always been captivated by the night sky and thoroughly enjoy when I am lucky enough to escape to the country and see its full extent. Having grown up in Milwaukee, experiencing the stars without light pollution is an absolute treat!

Alex Maring

Alex Maring (Fall 2012 )

I am a senior at UWM majoring in journalism with a concentration in advertising and public relations. As an intern at the Planetarium I am responsible for writing articles about events and working with social media. I am a huge Minnesota sports fan (I like the Brewers too) and I enjoy playing basketball. I also watch a lot of TV shows and movies. Someday I would like to work for a Minnesota sports team, SKOL Vikings!!!!

Steven Meaney

Steven Meaney

I am an undergraduate student at UWM going for a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. I also conduct research on pulsars and neutron stars with the ARCC group. I started working for the planetarium at the beginning of 2009. Born in Oakland, CA, I spent a few years growing up first in California, then Two Rivers, Kewaunee, and finally Green Bay. I love the night sky, so being able to work for a planetarium is a lot of fun.

Stephen Nelson

Stephen Nelson

I worked with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Manfred Olson Planetarium until completing my B.S. in Computer Science at UWM in May 2008. I configured and deployed many of the planetarium's computer and multimedia systems, and helped establish the ARCC program at UWM. I am now employed as a system administrator and internet security specialist. I enjoy viewing the sky with binoculars and with my 8-inch dobsonian telescope.

Vanessa bio pic

Vanessa Nicholas (Fall 2014)

I am a journalism major with a focus in media studies, and I am the publicity intern here. Originally I am from Illinois, but after a college visit to Milwaukee I knew this was the place I wanted to be. With only a year or so left of college, I am both nervous and excited for what the future holds. No matter what happens I am glad I chose UWM and proud to have done my internship at Manfred Olson!

Devan bio pic

Devan Pinion (Summer 2014)

I am an undergraduate majoring in Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies with a minor in English. I have come to intern at the Planetarium for the summer of 2014 to gain experience in publicity and design. My time here has taught me various skills that will significantly help me in off campus work. Outside of school, I am a certified yoga teacher and healthcare professional. I love to write, read, run, bike, or anything outdoors that includes moving about. 

Jourdan bio pic

Jourdan Richardson (Fall 2015)

I am an undergraduate student majoring in Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies, with a concentration in Public Relations. During my time interning with the planetarium, I hope to be able to bring students to the planetarium and get them excited about space and astronomy. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, exploring Milwaukee, and practicing my photography.

Camille Ridgeway

Camille Ridgeway

I'm majoring in political science and international studies with minors in Chinese and Arabic. I first got involved with the planetarium/physics department at UWM when I was a senior in high school. My AP biology teacher helped me join the Astronomy Club on campus and from there I did pulsar viewing in my free time. I had an interest in astronomy from a young age and as I get older I find myself liking topics involving black holes and string theory. I sometimes wonder why I didn't pursue astrophysics as a major!

Trevor bio pic

Trevor Ripley (Fall 2013)

I am an undergraduate student working towards a degree in Communications. I am very excited to be working at the planetarium and to gain awesome marketing and PR experience. In my free time I enjoy naps, playing Halo and watching the Vikings. After graduation, I plan to go into sports broadcasting.

Victoria Robison

Victoria Robison

I am an undergraduate student at UWM majoring in Physics. Since I began working for the planetarium in January 2007, my knowledge and appreciation of astronomy has expanded greatly. Originally from Milwaukee, I spent much of my life growing up in California. In my free time I like reading, music, cooking, plants, and being outdoors.

Cassandra Rosso

Cassandra Rosso (Fall 2011)

My name is Cassandra Rosso and I am in my last year at UWM majoring in journalism with an emphasis on photography. I am currently interning at the Planetarium and hope to take my experience with me for future job opportunities. I am also working on my digital arts and culture certificate while being in a local sorority. Born and raised in Milwaukee I enjoy the Brewers, volleyball, and doing anything artistic in my spare time. I am also looking forward to learning more about astronomy and the stars.

Shane Sampo

Shane Sampo (Fall 2012)

I am an undergraduate student studying for Meteorology and Mathematics. After graduation I hope to pursue a career in being an “On Air Meteorologist” for a broadcast station. I am interested in Astronomy and I am very thankful to have been given the opportunity to work for the UWM Planetarium. This experience has been so eye-opening and interesting. I am constantly learning about different astronomical events and phenomenon that occur in space. I really enjoy working here.

Ashley bio pic

Ashley Schur (Summer 2014 - Spring 2015)

I am an undergraduate student at UWM pursuing a degree in Public Relations. I am originally from a suburb of Chicago and when I visited UWM, I absolutely fell in love with the city of Milwaukee and I've had a fantastic experience here so far. I hope to one day pursue a career in PR by working in an agency or corporate PR. For the planetarium, I have specialized in coordinating the fundraising events, specifically the one coming up in the Spring of 2015! I have also helped with some designing of flyers and other PR related work. While I am interning I hope to sharpen my writing/design skills as well as expand my knowledge of PR for the work place, and also in astronomy. In my free time I enjoy watching movies, shopping and hanging out with my friends. I am also a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority here on campus where I serve as the Public Relations Vice President and it is a lot of fun! I am thrilled to be a part of the UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium Team and can't wait for what lies ahead!

Joel Shultis

Joel Shultis

I am an undergraduate student at UWM majoring in geophysics. I always found astronomy to be interesting, but it was when a friend of mine showed me "A Brief History of Time"' by Stephen Hawking that I began studying physics and astronomy. When I was a freshman, I went to a few planetarium shows and loved them. My astronomy professor suggested applying and now I am lucky enough to be working here!

Melanie Signer

Melanie Signer (Spring 2012)

I am a senior at UWM majoring in journalism, with an emphasis in strategic communications. During my time as an intern at the Manfred Olson Planetarium, my goal is to produce media that will help promote the Planetarium on campus as well as in the community. After college, I hope to obtain a job in the field of advertising. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, as well as cheering on Wisconsin sports teams! 

Jackie bio pic

Jackie Smethurst (Fall 2014)

I am a senior this year, and am finally graduating in May. I am majoring in Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies, with an emphasis in advertising and public relations. I am also obtaining my DAC certificate, and a minor in political science. This is my third internship so far, and I am hoping to expand my knowledge of astronomy, while sharpening my design and PR skills. I am a strategic communications intern for the Planetarium, and am working on an effort to reach out to all the departments on campus that might benefit from using the Planetarium in one way or another. I also hope to contribute to the 50 year celebration, and help out wherever I can. I am from Door County, and have an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal. I am very excited about this internship opportunity and hope to make the best of it!

Brooke Sorenson

Brooke Sorenson

I am an undergraduate student at UWM double majoring in German and Journalism & Media Communication with an emphasis in Strategic Communication. Upon graduation I hope to have a career in public relations. Interning at the planetarium gave me a new appreciation for astronomy and science in general.

Sean Suelflohn

Sean Suelflohn (Spring 2010)

I am a student at UWM pursuing an undergraduate degree in journalism with a minor in media graphics, as well as a digital arts/culture certificate. Born and raised in Green Bay, I am naturally a die-hard Packers fan. In my free time I enjoy going out with friends, searching everything the internet has to offer, watching/playing sports, going to Brewers/Badgers/Packers games, and of course catching up on my studies.

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Zabrina Tamarkin (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)

I am a senior majoring in Journalism, Advertising & Media Studies with a concentration in Advertising/Public Relations and planning graduate in May 2014. In my second to last semester here at UWM, I decided to apply for an internship and the one that was offered at the Planetarium stood out to me, mainly because I took an Astronomy course previously. I love working at the Planetarium because of the valuable experience I am gaining with graphic design, p.r., event planning, communications, and working independently while reaching team goals. I am also very excited to see how Art in Space 2014 plays out.

Guy Thomas

Guy Thomas (Fall 2011 - Fall 2014)

I am an undergraduate film student here at UWM. After graduating, I hope to pursue a career in the film industry as a director and cinematographer. I have always had an interest in astronomy and am very excited to be given this opportunity to work for the planetarium and learn more about the subject. I am the founder and president of Bam! Pow!, UWM's comic book club. I enjoy any and all kinds of art, both what I can and cannot create myself.

Kate Valdovinos

Kate Valdovinos (Spring 2010)

I am majoring in Journalism and Media Communications with a Media Studies and Strategic Communications concentration at UWM. I also have an Associate Degree in Electron Microscopy from Madison Area Technical College. I hope to pursue a career in healthcare or social welfare public relations. I enjoy networking and experiencing the subcultures of Milwaukee.

Sheng Vang

Sheng Vang (Spring 2009)

I'm from Milwaukee and I'm an undergraduate student at UWM majoring in journalism with an emphasis in strategic communications. Working at the planetarium, I made fliers, posters and brochures. After graduation, I hope to either start my career in an advertising agency or continue with graduate school.

William bio pic

William Warmath-Freemon (Spring 2015)

I am a undergraduate student majoring in Physics with a love for the cosmos. The Planetarium gives me hands on experience with what I love to do. I help run the stargazing opportunities at UWM and I love sharing a passion of space with others who are just as intrigued by the mysteries, the questions, and the exploration. My dream job would be to teach Physics or to work for NASA and the Planetarium gives me a great head start towards this goal. I believe there is life out there. And if there weren't, it would sure be a waste of space.