Summit of Success

Emily Nejad (Chicago)

A graduate of Signature School, Nejad has made a name for herself with her colorful confections at her bakery, Bon Vivant Cakes.

“If I were to make a cake in tribute for Evansville, here’s what I know — sky blue hues would rule the color palette. Then I’d deep fry the whole thing, because the birthplace of the Fall Festival would have it no other way.”

Keach Hagey (Irvington, New York)

Hagey has written for and Politico and currently is a writer for The Wall Street Journal. Her first book, “The King of Content: Sumner Redstone’s Battle for Viacom, CBS and Everlasting Control of His Media Empire,” will be released July 3.

“Some of my earliest, happiest memories are from the children’s reading room at Willard Library, which had this delicious, mysterious smell. I’ve traveled a lot since I left, but wherever I go, the rivers seem puny and the sweet corn subpar by comparison.”

Robert Eric Shoemaker (Boulder, Colorado)

Shoemaker will become a thrice-published author later this year and also is a recipient of the Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize for his musical “Plath/Hughes.”

“I’m very excited about that book ‘We Knew No Mortality,’ because it’s about growing up in the Henderson/Evansville area and takes a deep (often humorous and emotional) look at what it means to identify as from and part of my home state.”

Aaron Patzer (San Francisco)

During his time at Central High School, Patzer started the computer club. By the time he was 29, he sold his personal finance company for $170 million and was named one of the top 40 under 40 by Fortune. Patzer’s most recent project is a new healthcare startup.

“First and foremost I tried to focus on creating something valuable. Second, I worked hard at it, a value I learned way back in my days mowing lawns and shoveling driveways here in Evansville.”

Stephen Strader (Philadelphia)

After the 2005 tornado, Evansville native Strader was hooked on severe weather. He recently was awarded a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to investigate tornado impacts on mobile and manufactured homes in the U.S.

“I grew up with an interest in the arts and sciences. As a child, I especially loved watching Wayne Hart on TV during severe weather situations.”

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