2022 Alumni Notes 2001-2008
Jenna Maskell Berke
I am currently living in Burbank, California, with my husband, Mike, and our three-and-a-half-year-old son, Tyler. I'm currently a lead consultant on Kaiser Permanente's largest funded membership program. Tyler's having fun being back in preschool with his friends and on the weekends we enjoy going to the LA Zoo, Kidspace, trips to Temecula and San Diego. Tyler's lucky to have both sets of grandparents living nearby for many playdates as well.
I continue to manage the Health & Group Benefits consulting practice in the west region as a principal of Milliman. Some of our clients have reverted to meeting in person, while others have remained virtual. It has been nice to travel a bit again, though I’m glad the frequency is not as much as before COVID.
Our three boys are now aged seven (Nolan), five (Maverick), and three (Rhylan but we call him RhyRhy). Outside of school and the associated sports activities, we were able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in Kauai and have also spent quite a bit of time in Tahoe over the 2021-22 winter season. All three boys are getting quite proficient at skiing and know the terrain well at both Heavenly and Kirkwood. We are past due for a trip to the Central Coast, so hopefully we can make that happen this spring or summer.
Casey Word Hammer
The last couple of years have been a rollercoaster. After two miscarriages and a surgery, my husband and I welcomed our baby girl into the world last August. I was lucky enough to be able to take the rest of the year off to hang out with her. Having a baby during the pandemic feels isolating, but I can honestly say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
For those that remember my love of eggnog, yes, I have continued the tradition of hosting Eggnog Day. COVID has morphed it into an outdoor, socially distanced event for the last two years but I’m optimistic the 19th Annual Eggnog Day will be back to an indoor dinner buffet.
Professionally, I’m still working for Milliman’s San Francisco Health Practice as an actuarial consultant. I just finished my three-year term on the Society of Actuaries Health Section Council.
After about 13 years in Colorado, my husband, Matt, and our two dogs, Sherlock and Avery, and I decided to pack up, sell our house and move to Vancouver, Washington, in May 2021. We were ready for a change and love it here. I missed the Pacific Ocean and trees. With the move we both transitioned into new jobs. I now work for Advanced Nutrients and am a demand planning program manager. When we aren’t working, we are busy exploring our new home in the Pacific Northwest and taking as many trips as we can. We were very fortunate in November 2021 to travel to Jordan for about five days, then headed to Egypt for 11 days and a cruise down the Nile. Bucket list trip! It was amazing. This year we have a short trip to Alaska and a week in Tuscany planned, so hopefully that works out.
Aloha! A few years back we bought a coffee farm in Kona on Hawaii island. My wife is a teacher at our local elementary school, which my two kiddos attend. I manage the farm and work on a dive boat. We grow, process, roast and package the coffee right on our farm. By the way, life is too short to drink bad coffee. Buy good coffee and brew it up nice. We're biased but 100% Kona is world class. Jamaican Blue Mountain is pretty good too.
Anna Weldon Little
It’s been a memorable year for us. In a few months, I’ll have been a stay-at-home mama for a whole year. Although it is the first time I’ve been without a “job” since I was 15, I’ve never worked so hard in my life! Chloe (almost two) and Olivia (four) are the lights of our lives. Olivia started her first year of preschool and is loving it. I work as a participating parent at her preschool once a week. Weekend-long take-home tests were cake compared to wrangling three- to five-year-olds at circle time. It has been life changing to experience the world through their little eyes; such wonder and creativity is so refreshing.
I have found lots of opportunities to put my data wizard hat back on doing behind the scenes technical help with her school’s fundraisers and websites. Rumor has it they want me to run for the school board. It’s been amazing to feel like “I’ve still got it,” but it has also reminded me that there will be plenty of time to get back into the workforce. Right now, I want to focus my time on my kiddos. They are growing up really fast. Today we took them skiing with their cousins at Sugar Bowl for the first time.
This year was challenging for us as well because the Caldor fire burned right through my hometown of Strawberry. Miraculously, my parent’s house was saved, but our family cabin and many other close family friends’ homes built in the 1920s were badly damaged and destroyed. It was very stressful for my parents to be evacuated and displaced for so long. Not only that, but the community and beautiful wilderness that we have as our backyard will never be the same. We have a lot of cleaning up to do as right now much of the damage is just buried in snow.
On a brighter note, after years and years of hard work my husband, John, landed his dream job as a 737 pilot for United Airlines. Keep an ear out for him doing the in-flight announcements if you’re doing any traveling this year!
I am working as a senior research manager for HINER & Partners, Inc. (market research). I interned with HPI the summer before my senior year at Cal Poly and have worked here full time for 16 years. Once the initial shock of COVID and shelter-in-place orders wore off in 2020, the market research industry has been thriving with companies trying to navigate the behavioral changes in their customers. I'm thankful our company survived the uncertainty of the past two years. I currently live in Tustin with my wife and two sons (six and four). Both boys are enjoying Taekwondo and hip-hop classes. My oldest also just started Little League, which I help coach, so our schedule has been pretty full lately. Let us hope for a healthy and relatively normal 2022!
Alicia Fry Davis
The last two years have been pretty busy. I still teach statistics at Sacramento State University, and I really enjoy it. In June, I sold my house in Sacramento and moved to Cameron Park in the Sierra Nevada foothills. We love seeing deer out the windows and being surrounded by pine trees; it reminds me of my hometown, Tahoe, but without the snow. I call it Tahoe Light. My daughter is ten, and my son is eight; time flies with their busy schedule of activities. We brought a new member into the fold, a sweet labradoodle named Max. I'm happy to have time to write, and one of my screenplays recently placed as a semi-finalist in the San Francisco Indie film festival. I work on comedy writing by performing stand up around Northern California and maintain a network of writing partners to workshop story ideas. Life is pretty full at the moment, but in the next few years I hope to enjoy traveling abroad, sell more of my writing projects and figure out how to avoid getting my children cell phones when they become teenagers. If you want to read funny stories about single-mom shenanigans check out my blog at http://beeplease.blogspot.com/.
Since returning to the Bay Area in 2019, I have been working at VMware as a researcher and data scientist in charge of using machine learning and other various techniques to analyze the impact of the various teams and business units within the company and in the open-source community. This position provides a unique challenge in that unlike many types of data science problems, the data consists mostly of time stamps of open-sourse contributions and with no systematic way to determine the nature of them. Tasks range from writing and modifying computer code in Python, to retrieving large scale data, to providing insights through the use of various plots and visuals. This job has me working with colleagues from around the world as my department works with a team based in Bulgaria, as well as with some employees based in London and India. The nature of my work has greatly changed since starting at VMware as the company has been operating remotely almost exclusively since the onset of the pandemic, as well as dealing with the constant change in team members as numerous employees I have worked with since starting at VMware have left the company.
Laine Elliott Thomas
Professionally, I am still an associate professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics at Duke University, and I focus on methods for Causal Inference. The big news in my life this year comes outside of work. We were able to visit San Luis Obispo in May. My husband and I both work as statisticians (me at Duke and him at AstraZeneca). Our work has been remote ever since the pandemic started, and our son Greyson (12 years old) was doing online school last year. We rented a beach house in Cayucos for the whole month of May and worked with a view of the beach. It was great to share our love of the area with our son. On January 2, his little sister, Violet, was born. He says she will have two and a half parents due to their large age gap. In California we visited my dear friend Dawn, who I met at Cal Poly. She also had a baby girl in January. We look forward to having them play together.
Nicole Walterman Leighton
I am almost two decades in living in SoCal and working in areas for the Department of Defense. In my current job (Tecolote Research Inc.), I manage teams that consult for the Space Force estimating costs of satellites and launch vehicles. And my daughter always asks me, “Mom, have you figured it out yet?”
My daughters are five and six and are a handful and definitely developing their own unique personalities. As a family we enjoy hiking, snow sports and Sunday donuts at the beach.
I graduated from Cal Poly in 2003 and from Ohio State with a Ph.D. in statistics in 2008. My wife and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage this year. We have four children. I was teaching statistics at a university in Wuhan where the first COVID-19 outbreak occurred. Fortunately, the U.S. government helped with our evacuation. Last year, we relocated to Taiwan. Our family likes to enjoy an end-of-week bubble tea on Friday afternoons.
I hope everyone is doing well out there. I can’t believe it has been another year. I am currently working as an assistant professor of practice at the University of Arizona, teaching statistics and psychology. In my free time, I have started to get involved with the American Statistical Association Arizona Chapter as a secretary and in a statistics competition called DataFest. I also still stay busy as an owner of an auction company, helping families in some of their most stressful transitions in life.
In March of 2022, I will have completed 16 years as a faculty member at Cal Poly. Our Cal Poly community has a wonderful lunch time pickup soccer game for faculty,staff and other community members. It is very friendly and not competitive or physical (usually), which is great because I cannot play soccer at a high level anymore. It has been nice to be able start that back up again over the last nine months or so. When not playing soccer during the pandemic restrictions, I picked up a new hobby: the great game of golf. It’s actually amazing the exercise that golf provides and how sore I can be after playing a round. It has been fun to learn about and play. I have found my best (and most fun) days are when I don't keep score. I now live in the Old Orcutt area, and one reason is the proximity to my favorite golf courses including Rancho Maria (Orcutt), La Alisal (Solvang) and Black Lake (Nipomo).