This story first appeared in the fall 2018 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin.


These five professionals have reached impressive heights in their personal careers. Here’s why they choose to adjunct and share their expertise with Concordia students.

Mark Baden They practice what they teach

Title: Chief Meteorologist, WISN TV
Subject area: Meteorology
Why do you teach at Concordia?

My connection to The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod goes really deep, and my family background is in teaching, so there was a draw to do it. For me, it’s so much different than what I do on a daily basis. What’s been rewarding is there have been a handful of students I’ve taught who have gone after a career in meteorology. That’s fun to see. Getting people to follow their passion, no matter what it is, is fun.

How did you get your career start?

I saw lightning strike a tree when I was a kid, and it ignited my passion for weather. From then on it’s what I wanted to do. What’s fun for me is the job’s different every day. TV business can be rough, but I’ve been blessed to work for a very good company. It’s nice to have an occupation that’s really a hobby.

What has been a pinnacle moment or accomplishment of your professional life thus far?

More than anything, it’s survival in a nutty business and just being able to still enjoy getting into work every day. I’ve had some awards and things, but I think it’s being able to go to a place of work where I’m respected and where I respect my coworkers.

There’s also been lots of other fun, goofy things that have happened along the way: bungee jumping, riding a mechanical bull, shooting live shots on a llama, and getting to meet all kinds of people just because of where I was at. To get an invitation to the White House … never thought I’d have that before.

Jim Johnson They practice what they teach

Title: Sheriff, Ozaukee County
Subject area: Criminal Justice

What do you like best about being a sheri­ff?

There’s a line on my coffee cup that reads: We’re serving the people of today for a better tomorrow. Those are words I live by. Throughout my career in the military (Marine Corps and the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd Military Police Company) and in criminal justice and law enforcement, I’ve always been motivated to serve and protect people. The best part about being a sheriff is that I’m in a position to positively impact people’s lives. Sometimes it’s the little things that leave a lasting impression so I always look for big and small opportunities to impact others.

What advice do you give your students?

We spend a lot of time talking about ethics in my classroom because having strong ethics is such an important part of law enforcement, in everything, actually. I tell them to do the right thing even when God is the only one watching. I also encourage them to follow their passion and to surround themselves with colleagues who bring them joy because they are the people who are going to get them through difficult times on the job and in life.

What have you learned as an adjunct at CUW?

So many people worry about the next generation. I’m not concerned at all. The students here at Concordia care about learning. They care about the future. And, they’re respectful and kind. We have to understand that the millennials and the generation after that have a different way of looking at things, but they still value the same things that we do. They will make great leaders someday.

Jill Busch (’03, ’13) They practice what they teach

Title: Talent Development Manager, Human Resources, Kohl’s Corporate
Subject area: MBA

Why do you adjunct at Concordia?

I completed my undergraduate degree as an adult learner at Concordia and had such a positive experience. The classroom discussions were rich and applicable to my professional life, and I loved the freedom to express my faith and connect it to learning. I enjoyed it so much that God planted the idea of becoming an adjunct professor in my head, and led me back to Concordia to complete my graduate degree so I could teach and give back.

How do you incorporate faith into your class?

I like to generate discussion with my students about how we, as Christians, can follow His lead in our daily lives and careers in practical ways. We also talk about leading by example as an opportunity to share our values and faith. I remind them that how we respond as leaders says a lot about what we value.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Like so many young people I struggled to find my calling after high school. I started college, but it wasn’t the right fit for me at the time. I left school, found a job, and was blessed to work for a manager who would see my potential as a trainer and instructional designer. He helped me see that I could build a career and help others succeed in the field of corporate learning. I tell young people that it’s okay to not know their purpose yet. I encourage them to work and find their calling, and then come to Concordia and make their education really apply to what they want to do.

Rev. Dr. John Wohlrabe They practice what they teach

Title: Assistant Pastor, LCMS Fourth VP and Great Lakes Regional VP, former LCMS Second and Third VP, retired U.S. Navy Chaplain
Subject area: Religion

How did you get your career start?

I was in college and received a low draft number, so instead of waiting to get called up I voluntarily enlisted. I was initially placed on the USS John F. Kennedy, working in the shipyard, basically chipping paint all day. One day the chaplain saw me playing piano on a break. He asked, “Can you play church music? How’d you like to work for me?” I asked, “Would I have to chip paint? No? Then sign me up!” I ended up playing the organ for the church services and running the ship’s library. That was the start of my interest in ministry work.

What has been a pinnacle moment of your professional life?

I’ve been so privileged and honored to serve our Lord and our Church in so many ways— whether it’s serving a congregation, as a chaplain, as a vice president, or as an adjunct, it’s all good work. I get up each day and say, “Lord, thank you.”

What’s your approach to faith instruction at CUW?

I teach classes that are requirements for all non-church workers, so I have students with all kinds of faith backgrounds. I try to approach the class objectively by presenting the faith as a reality that has been brought to us by God through Christ and then passed on by way of the apostles’ teaching. We spend a good deal of time in class looking at and reading verses aloud. I take very seriously what Paul says in Romans 10, so I let them hear the Word.

Celeste Cuffie (’08, ’12) They practice what they teach

Title: Professional Skills Consultant, Life Empowered
Subject area: Business

Why did you want to teach at Concordia?

I received my undergraduate degree from Concordia through the adult education program. From that time, I’ve always wanted to teach at Concordia. I really enjoyed my programs and Concordia University as a whole. Teaching was a way for me to give back to the place that poured so much into me.

What do you love about your job as a consultant?

Helping people realize that what they need is inside of them. My professional career began in the medical field, however, through a series of twists and turns I ended up in IT. One thing that was consistent: People are going to be people. When you hear others complaining, they’re often looking at external things instead of what’s inside. I work with individuals and groups to help them realize that the greatest tool is themself. If we can command our strength, knowledge, and competence, we can positively change the world.

What adage or advice do you have for Concordia students?

Your belief drives your behavior. I encourage Concordians to really tap into what they believe from a Christian perspective and from a holistic perspective, and allow that to drive them to be the best they can be. I remember when I started crafting my mission statement for Life Empowered. I had “God-given skills” in there, and I received feedback that I should take God out because that may turn some people off. I opted not to because that’s who I am. We all have a choice, but I cannot give up who I am or my faith to appease someone externally.

The spring Concordian hit mailboxes the week of October 1. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 262-243-4333.

— Kali Thiel is director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at kali.thiel@cuw.edu or 262-243-2149.

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.