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UC Arts and Sciences grads named to 40 under 40 list

By: Lindsey Carr

From entrepreneurship to event production, graduates of the University of Cincinnati's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences become thriving professionals—and living proof that degrees in liberal arts prepare students to succeed in a wide range of professions.

This year, six A&S graduates were named among the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2018 Forty Under 40 class to honor their outstanding career achievements and community involvement.

The award is given annually to 40 nominees under age 40 who have demonstrated leadership and community impact in their respective careers. Some of this year’s awardees have founded nonprofit organizations or become presidents of their own companies, and all have longstanding philanthropic involvement in the community.

Meet the A&S alumni of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2018 Forty Under 40 class: Vicki Calonge, ’01, Sarah Rathel Curry, ’05, Jessica Esterkamp, ’04, Kelly Hollatz, ’06, Kara Sanders, ’05, and Britney Ruby Miller, ’05.

Vicki Calonge graduated from A&S in 2001 with a communications degree. Calonge is a freelance event production consultant at the fundraising consulting firm Skystone Partners. Calonge also serves as the 69th president of the Junior League of Cincinnati, as well as an advisory board member at Duke Energy Children’s Museum. 

Sarah Curry Rathel graduated magna cum laude with high honors in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in communication, which she uses to improve the lives of children. Rathel is the founder of two nonprofit organizations that support children with long-term illnesses: Something Different Books and the Smile Books Project. Rathel not only manages these organizations but also writes children’s books featuring chronically ill children as the story’s protagonist. She is a communications and engagement specialist with Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Jessica Esterkamp graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in communication and serves as the Vice President of Corporate Development for The Matrix Companies. She founded Ascent Risk Management as a branch of Matrix focused on holistic workplace safety. Esterkamp is also a member on the board of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati, where she helps youth in her community become changemakers.

Kelly Hollatz received her bachelor’s degree in communication in 2006, just before she became the founder and president of First Star Safety, one of Greater Cincinnati’s top construction and traffic safety supply firms. Hollatz currently serves on the Board of Directors for Cincinnati’s Dress for Success, a program that offers professional attire and readiness tools to women in Cincinnati. Hollatz also serves as chairwoman for Cincinnati Canstruction, an annual “construction” competition, wherein participants compete to build structures entirely out of canned goods. Materials are then donated to Freestore Foodbank.


Kara Sanders completed her bachelor’s degree in Romance Language and Literatures, with a concentration in Spanish, in 2005. She is a Craftforce education and development executive at Messer Construction. Sanders attended both UC Blue Ash and Uptown campus to pursue her undergraduate degree and is earning a master’s degree at Northern Kentucky University. She participated in the 50th anniversary alumni panel at UC Blue Ash in February. 


Britney Ruby Miller graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Ruby Miller serves as president of Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, the parent company of the popular Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse restaurant chain. Ruby Miller says that community outreach is as important as business. She often works with the Jeff Ruby Foundation to support philanthropic efforts in Newport and surrounding communities.