Welcome to the UI Alumni Network

   

Kefir Master

At age 27, Julie Smolyansky was thrust into the president’s chair of Lifeway Foods after her father’s sudden death in 2002. Since then, she’s expanded the company’s product offerings and boosted its revenues from $12 million to $75 million.

By Jonathan Black
Photography by Callie Lipkin and Lifeway Foods

You’ve probably heard of kefir. It’s a drink, similar to yogurt, prepared by inoculating cow, goat or sheep’s milk with kefir grains. The grains are a mix of bacteria and yeast in a matrix of proteins, lipids and sugars. The drink helps lower blood pressure and reduces serum cholesterol. It promotes longevity and may ward off sickness. Kefir has also made Julie Smolyansky ’96 las a prosperous and hugely successful businesswoman.

“Did I think I’d ever get into this business?” she laughs. “Nope. At [UIC], I majored in psychology and minored in women’s studies. I was going to be a clinical psychologist.”

What changed her mind was her dad, Michael, an immigrant Russian and the first to introduce kefir to the United States back in the early 1980s. He built the company, Lifeway Foods, into a major business. Then he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 55.

Two days later, when she was 27, Julie took over the president’s chair.

Read more: http://www.uiaa.org/uic/news/uicalumni/1103a.html

 

 

Alumni Stories:

Oceanic Administration

Two of the world’s top leaders in oceanographic research—both UI alumnae—talk about how they landed at their respective scientific institutions and the concerns each has about the future of our largest bodies of water.
[ read more ]

Big Leaguer

New York Mets centerfielder. Three-time All-Star. Baseball stadium named in his honor. There isn’t much that Curtis Granderson hasn’t accomplished.
[ read more ]

Go-Getter

How did Mike Delfini progress from being a graphic designer for The Field Museum to Shedd Aquarium’s chief operating officer? By never being afraid to accept the next big challenge.
[ read more ]

Volunteer Spirit: Space Saver

Gwen Zabicki turns vacant storefronts into studio space for artists.
[ read more ]

Franchise Player

As creative director of the best-selling video game Madden NFL, Mike Young is part of something that’s highly anticipated, beloved by millions and devoted to the nation’s favorite sport. It’s no wonder he loves his work.
[ read more ]

Alumni Profile: UFO Tracker

As director of the Center for UFO Studies, Mark Rodeghier keeps a close watch for close encounters
[ read more ]

Mountain Mover

Nina Pritikin Zale helps disabled Israeli veterans learn to ski.
[ read more ]

Farmer's Daughter

For winemaker Janet Myers, the journey from family orchard to high-end vineyard has been a ferment of scientific study, world travel and unexpected opportunities. And, of course, the joy of wine itself.
[ read more ]

Network Provider

Dr. Lee Francis, president and CEO of Erie Health Center, has helped the community-based organization expand its reach by cultivating relationships with staff, neighborhood leaders and partnering hospitals.
[ read more ]

Transition Specialist

Iraq War veteran Robert Malnik helps returning military personnel readjust to civilian life.
[ read more ]

Digital Educator

Alice Diec Zhao on teaching children new languages and her new app, Gus on the Go.
[ read more ]

Bar Raiser

Bored by the world of high finance, Anne Shaeffer launched a gourmet confectionery brand, Sulpice Chocolat. It’s a move that has made her happy and keeps her busy 24/7.
[ read more ]

Shape-Shifter

Actress Janina Gavankar transforms herself into all creatures great and small for the HBO series True Blood.
[ read more ]

Game On

A passion for the hidden stories motivates Michael Osacky’s world-class trade in baseball memorabilia
[ read more ]

Arms for the world

For Jonathan Naber ’11 ENG, the idea for the arm came when he was a sophomore, in a rush of altruism.
[ read more ]

Sword Play

As emcee in Roman-era extravaganza, Joseph Steven Klus made life-and-death calls on gladiators in combat
[ read more ]

Pitch man

As superintendent of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Arnold Randall hopes to lure urbanites into the extraordinary wilderness that’s in their backyard
[ read more ]

‘A Sucker For Fun’


[ read more ]

Across The Water

Making it to the NBA is the ultimate goal for lots of talented college players. But as numerous past Fighting Illini hard-court greats can tell you, playing professional basketball overseas is also a supreme experience – though not without its challenge
[ read more ]

A Gift for the Ages

The renovation of majestic Lincoln Hall, constructed a century ago on the University of Illinois Quad, will modernize the facility but still retain much of its character.
[ read more ]

How to Grow a Human Network

Sue Bostrom sits high atop the corporate ladder at Cisco, but she also touts the merits of down-to-earth Midwestern values.
[ read more ]

Body and Soul

Students continue to thrive at one of the nation's most accessible college campuses
[ read more ]

Illinois Homecoming

In its 100-year history, Homecoming at the University of Illinois has held many special moments – such as the four touchdowns within 12 minutes made by Red Grange during the 1924 game.
[ read more ]

Illini Spirit

Button Up For Homecoming
[ read more ]

In The Time Of PLATO

How students at Illinois created today’s computer technology 50 years ago
[ read more ]

The Unsilent World

For more than two decades, Susan Schiefelbein enjoyed a remarkable working relationship with the underwater adventurer Jacques Cousteau in helping to bring his beliefs to the written page.
[ read more ]

Physician, Educate Thyself

At Illinois, students inject the study of medicine with other disciplines
[ read more ]

O Brave New Web

As the Internet colonizes more and more space in our world, what will be the conveniences and challenges of life in the cyber-dimension?
[ read more ]

Labors Of Love

Lorado Taft – the sculptor behind the ‘Alma Mater’ – embraced both his art and his University
[ read more ]

Special Game Plan

Nothing that you will read here disputes the fact that the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics, a worldwide organization that provides sports training and competition for people who have cognitive disabilities.
[ read more ]

News Worthy

At the Freedom Forum and the Newseum, alumni Ken Paulson and Joe Urschel help document news – right up to the very moment you’re reading this.
[ read more ]



© Copyright UI Alumni Network, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Alumni Development Software