Laura (Bakke) Sowinski ’94, associate principal at Waunakee Community Middle School, spouse and mother of three, represented the Wisconsin chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at various 2008 events, including a conference with Gov. Jim Doyle announcing the World Stem Cell Summit in Madison. She also spoke during a national teleconference about MS and its effect on families.
Diagnosed in 2001 with relapsing-remitting MS, Sowinski experiences unpredictable attacks.
Sowinski, who was a Spanish (teaching) major at UW-Eau Claire, also appeared on a segment of Wisconsin Public Radio’s “In Wisconsin,” which originally aired in September 2008 and was rebroadcast in February. The program featured UW-Madison professor Ian Duncan, who is researching the use of stem cells to develop cell transplants for the treatment of MS. One in 500 people in Wisconsin has been diagnosed with MS, compared with one in 10,000 in Texas. It is theorized that a shortage of sunlight and vitamin D may combine with a genetic predisposition to cause these high rates of incidence.
Sowinski currently lives a full life both personally and professionally. Although uncertain about what the future will hold, she is hopeful about Duncan’s research.
“I just want to make the best of life and its opportunities,” Sowinski said.