Category Archives: Stories

Ryan 2 Profile

UWGB Transformed Ryan by…

…welcoming him into a community of hope and encouragement.

As a small town kid with big time doubts about his ability to succeed at the college level and in the real world, Ryan E. Ruzziconi immersed himself in the UWGB culture and never looked back.

“Finding a university that encourages their students’ growth and has built a campus around that philosophy isn’t easy,” Ryan explains. “But the culture at UWGB, from the professors to the living arrangements, gradually exposes a student to more people, experiences, and learning opportunities. And the more one is exposed to at UWGB, the greater their confidence and willingness to take on new challenges.”

It was this willingness to take on new challenges that propelled Ryan to personal and educational success, but not without the help of a few influential teachers.

“Scott Furlong and Denise Scheberle were not only wonderful professors, but they gave students hope and encouragement,” Ryan insists, “hope that a student’s hard work and dedication would pay off later in their career, and encouragement that no matter the obstacle, both inside and outside the classroom. For students, there are no two greater gifts that a professor can impart, especially at the college stage of one’s life.”

Ryan also credits UWGB’s unique student housing, which “allows for students to develop close relationships and live in a true community together,” and to this day, Ryan still contributes to UWGB by serving on the Alumni Board and taking part in other university activities.

“I would say the overall UWGB experience helped transform me into a more confident individual,” Ryan says, “and that in turn has led to successful careers.”

Name: Ryan E. Ruzziconi

Grad Year: 1999

Major: Public Administration and Political Science

Minor: None

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.

Knox, Jess

UWGB Transformed Jessica by…

…providing her the freedom to be herself.

As often is the case, UWGB students learn an incredible amount during their time on campus. However, Jessica Knox’s most important lesson learned was one not found in a book or lecture.

“The most important aspect of my UWGB education was that I was finally in a safe environment to grow and learn as a person. I came out at UWGB and am now an involved member of the LGBT community where I live,” Jessica says. “I also learned what I’m passionate about and how to use that passion to continue learning and growing.”

But Jessica’s transformation would not have been possible without one inspirational individual.

“Joanie Dovekas, hands down, was the most impactful person at UWGB for me. She inspired me to work in Higher Education and always made sure I knew that I was cared about as a person, especially in the hardest of times,” Jessica explains. “Everything she did for me and the support she provided could go on for pages. I can very honestly say I wouldn’t have made it through my college career without Joanie’s help.”

Now working in Higher Education–Financial Services, to be precise–Jessica has made an ideal life for herself, stemming from the nurturing support UWGB provided her.

“I’m engaged to be married to an incredible woman, and I have a career in financial aid that I love,” Jessica says. “I am constantly looking for new things to learn about my field and I have managed to network pretty well, both in my immediate region and nationally. I am comfortable, happy with who I am, and I have a wonderful career.”

Name: Jessica M. Knox

Grad Year: 2010

Major: Human Development

Minor: Mathematics

 

Photo submitted by: Jessica Knox

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.

Richter, Jena

UWGB Transformed Jena by…

…allowing her to spread her wings as a social (media) butterfly.

On a typical college campus, students can be seen walking to and from class, clutching their cell phones, updating their Twitter feed or Facebook accounts, and taking selfies to post on Instagram. Jena Richter used to be one of those students, a self-professed “social media butterfly,” but she never thought of her digital communication skills as a means to a career.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 9.25.50 AM“UWGB helped me acknowledge my passion for social media and turn it into a viable career path,” Jena says. “From my first MSN Blog to Twitter, I was always ahead of my peers when it came to social media, but I never recognized public relations, marketing, and social media as my career calling. I didn’t even know what PR truly was!”

From the very beginning of her UWGB education, Jena immersed herself in anything and everything social media. In her earlier years, Jena promoted her very own radio show as a DJ for the campus radio station and helped promote events put on by the Leadership Task Force. Later, Jena served as the Social Media Coordinator for Phlash TV, worked as the Marketing and Communication Assistant for Residence Life, and completed a Communication Capstone Course titled, “Cases in Crisis Communication and Media Management.”

Despite all of her hard work, Jena admits that it was only possible because of the hard work of her UWGB teachers and mentors.

“Phil Clampitt is an amazing professor because he not only teaches students, but he also instills in them the skills that will make them successful in the post-grad world,” Jena insists. “Besides what I learned in the classroom, from his textbooks, and from the group work assigned by him, Phil also believed in me and provided me with opportunities to grow outside of the classroom.”

One of Jena’s opportunities included working with Phil Clampitt as a Research Assistant and presenting findings on leadership at the 12th Annual UW-Green Bay Academic Symposium. Jena was also able to help develop a brand new course for the Communication department titled “Social Media Strategies.”  In addition to Phil Clampitt, Jena also credits Todd Sanders, Social Media Specialist, as Jena worked closely with Todd as an intern, “learning the ins and outs of social media in higher education and helping him execute crazy ideas.” Jena considers her time as his intern as a wonderful opportunity to work with one of the “best in the biz.”

Now, serving as UWGB’s Social Media Specialist, Jena feels that her UWGB experience was truly a special one.

“I feel UWGB is unique because I had all of these opportunities to work alongside staff and faculty to develop my skills and passions. I know this is what made me the social media professional that I am today,” Jena explains. “I work here, and when I am not at work, you can’t get me to shut up about how great UWGB is! I still need to pinch myself every once in a while.”

Name: Jena Richter

Grad Year: 2013

Major: Communication

Minor: Corporate Communication

 

Photos submitted by: Jena Richter, UWGB

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.

Butitta, Kathleen 2

UWGB Transformed Katie by…

…helping her find her voice.

In rare cases, a student arrives on the UWGB campus knowing exactly what they would like to major in and exactly what career they want: this was the case for Katie Butitta.

“When I first arrived at UWGB, I knew that I would be happiest pursuing a career that involved the arts. My dream at that point was to somehow double-major in Music and Theater, but I was told that I’d have to choose an interdisciplinary minor that, in my mind, would be incredibly boring,” Katie says.

Butitta, Kathleen 1For as sure as Katie was, UWGB’s minor requirements asked her to expand her horizons and engage in another related discipline.

“Luckily, at that time UWGB was developing a minor called ‘Arts Management,’ which seemed like the best option for me,” Katie explains. “I chose it as my minor and completed it, becoming more interested as time went on but fully intending that it would be merely a blip on my educational radar. I had grand plans of going on to earn my Master’s degree in vocal performance and, ideally, earning a living either performing or teaching voice like my mentor Sarah Meredith.”

Along with personal support from Ellen Rosewall and musical guidance from William Witwer, Katie graduated with a Music major and Arts Management minor. Little did Katie know that her minor–the part of her academic career she didn’t plan on–would be of crucial importance in her professional career.

“I did indeed go on to earn my Master’s in voice, and I tried my hand at teaching voice myself. Sadly, I found teaching voice to not be right for me,” Katie explains. “During the time in between seasons with Opera for the Young, a position became available in their office as a Tour Manager. My having earned that minor in Arts Management so many years prior got my foot in the door to step into that position on the administrative side of a thriving arts organization.”

It turns out that Katie did find her voice, and she never thought that a minor in Arts Management would make it all possible.

“My choice to pursue Arts Management as a minor led to my current position of Operations Manager for Opera for the Young based in Madison, Wisconsin, and I couldn’t be happier,” Katie says.

Name: Katie Butitta

Grad Year: 2004

Major: Music, Vocal Performance

Minor: Arts Management

 

Photos submitted by: Katie Butitta

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.

Ard, Mark

UWGB Transformed Mark by…

…helping with a smooth transition to civilian life.

Mark A. Ard Jr. entered UWGB not long after having exiting the Armed Forces, having spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps where he was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. Admittedly, Mark knew that he was in a stressful situation.

“I found myself in the same difficult spot many veterans face when they are transitioning back into civilian life,” Mark explains. “As unaware I was then and knowing what I know now this was a very difficult and challenging time in my life for a multitude of reasons. If it were not for the direction and constant show of support from not only my friends and family but also from my UWGB teachers, I doubt I would have been able to make it through.”

Of these UWGB teachers, Mark greatly appreciated the work of Prof. Katia Levintova.

“Katia had the most impact on my development and progression as a student,” Mark says. “She always took the time to listen and guide me through the process of learning and gauging where I should take my education into my career.”

Mark also cites the influence of Veterans Advisor Elaina Koltz, who helped him navigate his veterans benefits that paid for his tuition, Mark Olkowski in the Dean’s Office, who was always available and provided great counseling and guidance, Prof. Marcelo Cruz, whose zeal and eccentric passion motivated him to learn as much as he could, and the Vets 4 Vets student organization that provided a social network for veterans like Mark to re-connect with others.

“As difficult as it was transitioning, it was necessary for my future success,” Mark says. “UWGB provided me an outlet and something to focus on and work towards, a critical component to any veteran’s successful transition. I went in not know what exactly it was I wanted to do in the civilian world and came out with a mission. The best memory is having the satisfaction of seeing through the completion a life goal of earning a college education. UWGB made it possible.”

Name: Mark A. Ard Jr.

Grad Year: 2012

Major: Political Science

Minor: Global Studies

 

Photo provided by: Mark Ard Jr.

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.

UWGB Transformed Wendy by…

…helping her realize what she already had.

It seems that many Phoenix freshman have a similar outlook: they have the knowledge, skills, and ability to become outstanding professionals, but they need help finding these characteristics inside themselves. Wendy A. Huber’s UWGB transformation story is no different.

“I came to UWGB a somewhat shy, awkward teenager and was transformed into strong-willed, very capable leader of my peers, and eventually into a working freelance artist,” Wendy explains, “and this was a resolution I never could have imagined at the time.”

As a theatre student, Wendy says her production assignments grew progressively difficult over time, and in four and a half years, she became strong enough to handle a mainstage scenic design and manage the largest production the department had mounted in a decade.

“While stage managing the Theatre department’s production of Cabaret in 2012, I had the privilege of running a show in the Weidner Center for almost a thousand people each night,” Wendy says. “The anticipation as patrons filed in and solving hiccups during the show with my team while calling complex lighting cues was exhilarating and the apex of my college experience.”

However, managing a Weidner Center performance isn’t something one can tackle on their own, and Wendy is eternally grateful for the knowledge and guidance provided by UWGB’s Theatre faculty.

“The theatre department faculty had a tremendous impact on me,” Wendy insists. “Leading by example in theatrical craftsmanship and academics were Jeff Entwistle, Laura Riddle, Mike Ingraham, John Mariano, and Kaoime Malloy, who each in turn encouraged and pushed me through the barriers I had placed in myself, helping me discover a wealth of creativity, resolve, and leadership skills I hadn’t realized I already had.”

And when times got tough, UWGB supported Wendy in a different way.

“Counseling services is an invaluable resource of UW-Green Bay,” Wendy explains. “Dr. Ann Athorp-Krech helped me find the words to describe frustrations and painful times, and she helped me find specific actions to alleviate my stressors.”

Today, Wendy continues to transform theatres and stages, bringing her very own UWGB transformation story wherever she goes.

“I continue to successfully stage manage large shows due to the diverse and excellent foundation I built under the guidance of the UWGB Theatre faculty,” Wendy says. “I know I can always call to pick their brains about possible solutions, or rent materials to make it happen. And I have been able to work consistently since graduation, including a year-long pilgrimage to Colorado where I jumped right into a regional theatre and worked my way up.”

“I am very proud to be a UWGB Theatre alum,” Wendy says.

 

Name: Wendy A. Huber

Grad Year: 2012

Major: Technical Theatre and Design

Minor: Human Development

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.

Me-at-my-show

My Communication Processes degree helped change my career

My name is Mel Kolstad.  I graduated in 1991 (as Mel Jones) with a B.S. in Communication Processes (emphasis: Electronic Media) and a minor in Communication Arts.  Professor Tim Meyer was a huge reason that I enjoyed my field of study.

For most of my adult life, I was employed by either television stations or newspapers, both in Green Bay and my current home, Fond du Lac.  I loved my time at UWGB, and always assumed I’d have a career in mass media.

Then I discovered art.

I took NO art classes during my tenure!  This was definitely a latent interest of mine, one I didn’t even know I had until 2006.  But I entered the art world at the perfect time – a time when it was possible to show my work on the internet and get immediate responses.  At the same time, it was becoming clear to me that my job in the newspaper industry wouldn’t last forever.  So in January of 2010, I took a huge risk and left my job at The Reporter, and ventured off into the unknown territory of The Art World.

It was VERY scary at first.  I honestly had no idea where this new “career” (if I could even call it that then) would take me.  But with the help of the skills I learned during my time at GB, it made the transition far smoother. I very quickly learned that in order to succeed, one not only needs to make art, but to promote it as well.  It is imperative to craft a decent artist statement, biography, and resumé – not to mention a cohesive website and social media presence.  I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that my writing skills, honed at university, have gotten me published in “Professional Artist” and “Uppercase” magazines, and the book The Artist’s Library, for which I was a contributor.  I am forever grateful for my classes here – without them, my new(wish) art career would not have been as rich.

My experience came full circle this past fall, when I was part of the Contemporary Views exhibit at the Lawton Gallery!  If you would’ve told me 24 years ago that I would ever have the chance to show at this wonderful gallery, I would’ve laughed.  It was so fantastic to once again be on campus, and for such a fun reason!

Mel (Jonees) Kolstad ’91
Communication Processes (Electronic Media emphasis)
Communication Arts (minor)

UWGB Transformed Clarice by…

…teaching her how to think.

From the very beginning of her UWGB experience, Clarice Tuinstra felt as if she was in an odd limbo. “I started college at age 22, when most people graduate. I didn’t follow the typical path of attending college directly after high school, but I was far too young to be an ‘adult’ student,” Clarice explains.

She returned to school because she disliked working retail and felt that her best option was to earn a degree. “I felt having a college education was still better than having nothing but a high school diploma, and when I started I was unsure of myself,” Clarice says. “I was unsure of my abilities, my talent, and even my intelligence. I hadn’t been in school for four years, and I wasn’t sure how well I would do.”

During her time at UWGB, Clarice says she learned how to be more assertive. “I took charge of group projects. I learned that writing creatively could be twice as hard as any analysis. Now, I can think for myself. I learn quickly, I understand instructions and I can analyze better than many. This, and I can write a beautiful sentence on occasion,” Clarice explains.

Clarice reflects on the guidance and wisdom she gleaned from Stefan Hall, Rebecca Meacham, Chuck Rybak, Aeron Haynie, Eric Shockley, and Cliff Abbott, asserting that, “Each brought something individual to the classroom.” Clarice insists all of her professors taught her that, “It is not just about reading books, writing opinion pieces, and hoping to be a novelist. Can writing be an art? Yes. Can it be a science? Yes, it can be that too. Collectively, these professors taught me to be more open to knowledge. They taught me to discover the world for myself. They taught me facts, yes, but they also taught me how to think.”

 

Name: Clarice Tuinstra

Grad Year: 2014

Major: Creative Writing

Minor: Communication

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.48.31 AM

UWGB Transformed Elaina by…

…helping her transform the lives of countless veterans.

Returning to the UWGB campus as a non-traditional student in the early 2000s, Elaina Koltz couldn’t help but reflect on the past…with a smile.

“In my history class, we were talking about the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989,” Elaina explains. “I had to laugh as I told the class I was there when it happened. It’s pretty sad when you are a part of the history you are studying.”

But reflecting on the past and honoring those responsible for shaping the world is what Elaina Koltz has always done, eventually leading her to a fulfilling career as UWGB’s very own Veteran Certifying Official. This position has allowed Elaina to serve a very special group of non-traditional students–veterans–and Elaina asserts that her UWGB coursework has been vital to her success and the success of these veterans.

“Learning about human development and psychology has helped me in my position, assisting veterans who have been through some hard experiences before returning to school,” Elaina says.

Along the way, Elaina received support of her own in the form of Illene Cupit–one of Elaina’s favorite teachers–who “had lots of enthusiasm,” insisting that, “you could tell she really cared about teaching.” Also providing invaluable guidance was Sarah Meredith Livingston, whose “Women in the Arts” course taught Elaina something entirely new: how to critique art performers and performances.

However, it seems that Elaina Koltz has perfected the art of making veterans feel at home while at UWGB, transforming their lives one at a time.

 

Name: Elaina Koltz

Grad Year: 2006

Major: Human Development

Minor: Psychology

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.

UWGB Transformed Lindsey by…

…supporting her artistically and academically.

The words “unusual” and “rare” aren’t traditionally associated with an outstanding college education, but Lindsey Przybylski insists that UWGB’s educational opportunities are anything but normal.

As a talented Art major, Lindsey found a valuable artistic outlet in the Lawton Gallery.  “The experiences that the Lawton Gallery has provided have been one in a million. Having the opportunity to exhibit my student work and actually have the university purchase one of my pieces is something I will never forget,” Lindsey says. “These opportunities are extremely rare, and UWGB students are fortunate to have them.”

However, Lindsey says that her artistic success wouldn’t have been possible without her advisors and professors, who provided Lindsey with “the best art education, direction, and resources that simply can’t be found anywhere else.”

“Sarah Detweiler, Alison Gates, Allison Stehlik, Linda Tabers-Kwak, Karen Eckhardt, and Aurora Cortes have been the driving force behind my education and helped my educational dreams come true,” Lindsey explains. “The support, knowledge, and encouragement I have received from these individuals is not normally found at major universities, and UWGB’s students are truly lucky to have these individuals as part of UWGB’s educational team.”

This ideal blend of artistic and academic support has transformed Lindsey into becoming the best educator possible for her future students, an experience not unusual at UWGB.

Name: Lindsey Przybylski

Grad Year: 2012

Major: Art

Minor: Education

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.