Category Archives: Shared Stories

The following is user-submitted content from alumni, friends and retirees and current employees of the University. Have a memory to share? We would love to hear more about it. Share your story.

Jo Wiebel

UWGB Transformed Jo by…

…teaching him to love learning so he could find his passion.

Perfectly summarizing the initial experience of so many successful Phoenix, Jo Wiebel admits that he was unsure what to do with his educational career upon setting foot on UWGB’s campus in the late 1990s.

“When I enrolled at UW-Green Bay, I was an average student that liked school but lacked direction in life,” Jo asserts, “but my ability to be an independent thinker and ‘on the job’ learner were strengthened from my UW-Green Bay experience.”

Aside from academics, Jo also reflects fondly on his four years on the men’s swim team, including countless practices, road trips, competitions, and lifelong friendships, along with what Jo says was “the ability to develop traits like persistence, dedication, collaboration, and teamwork.”

Jo also credits his coach, Jim Merner, and Tim Kaufman, who were instrumental in his completion of his master’s degree and thesis during his second tenure on campus, earning his MS in 2004. But Jo’s UWGB roots run deeper than his degrees indicate–he also worked as an assistant swimming coach for three seasons and has continued to participate with alumni swimming events, while serving as a current member of the Alumni Association Board and Phoenix Fund.

Now as the Principal of nearby Edison Middle School right here in Green Bay, Jo firmly believes that without a “very personalized, smaller scale learning environment at UWGB,” he may have never discovered his passion.

“I became a well-rounded, confident adult with a love for learning and a varied problem solving skill set,” Jo explains. “This has served me well, as I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of fields to eventually find a job that is truly my passion in life. Without the opportunity to grow, reflect and mature at UWGB, this wouldn’t have been possible.”

Name: Jo Wiebel

Grad Year: 1997, 2004

Major: Public Administration

Minor: Political Science

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 Christopher by…

…giving him the motivation to start his own business.

Ask any small business owner: entrepreneurship can be the most rewarding–and the most stressful–endeavor that a recent college graduate can undertake. Yet that is exactly what Christopher Lange did, and he credits his UWGB experience, one that helped him find the motivation to take the risk of small business ownership.

When I began attending UWGB, I was uncertain about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Christopher says. “While I am still not certain where I will end up, I am most certainly better prepared because of my time at UWGB.  I started out unfocused and, to some extent, unmotivated, but through time, learning, and the diligent help of UWGB staff, I began to take my studies seriously.”

Christopher recalls his many lasting friendships made while at UWGB, but he insists that the leadership and inspiration from the UWGB staff and faculty is what truly made the difference in deciding his career path. Citing Gregory Aldrete, Clifton Ganyard, Ellen Rosewall, and Darrel Renier, Christopher believes that it was these people who transformed his academic career into one he could be proud of.

Now, Christopher is a small business owner and emphasizes that his UWGB education was indispensible in his success.

“Had I not taken time to make myself want to learn, and not had the tools and resources available to me at UWGB, I would not have been in a position to be a small business owner,” Christopher says.

Name: Christopher Lange

Grad Year: 2014

Major: History and Arts Management

Minor: Humanistic Studies

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.

Kuplic, Kerry

UWGB Transformed Kerry by…

…taking him around the world and ‘full circle’

When Kerry J. Kuplic began his academic career at UWGB, he had no way to predict that his experiences would land him in Florence, Italy and eventually as an assistant professor at the college level. But UWGB is a special place, after all.

Throughout his four years at UWGB, Kerry was encouraged to pursue his goals and was given the tools to make them a reality. He was provided opportunities to travel and connect with colleagues and professors from around across the globe, and his education helped prepare him for an international career in the performing arts, ultimately in higher education. He recently joined UW-Green Bay’s very own Sarah Meredith-Livingston with three of his own students for a week long workshop in Florence, Italy. Collaborative efforts like these underscore just how meaningful Kerry’s undergraduate experiences were.

Kerry’s story is clearly representative of his alma mater and its many successful alumni.

“In many respects, I’ve come full circle,” Kerry explains. “I participated in these workshops as a student, and now I’m bringing my own students. My UWGB professors’ commitment to excellence in all things and the advice and guidance I was given informed my choices and have helped me to succeed professionally.”

Name: Kerry J. Kuplic

Grad Year: 2006

Major: Music, Vocal Performance

Minor: Arts Management

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.

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UWGB Transformed Arie by…

…preparing him for a career that didn’t exist when he was a student.

When Arie DeWaal graduated in 1972, he never dreamed of being a Federal Hydroelectric Licensor because, quite simply, the job didn’t exist. However, thanks to a comprehensive UWGB education, Arie earned the position a few years after graduation and hasn’t looked back.

“UW-Green Bay gave me the footing to succeed,” Arie says. Facilitating this sense of success, Arie cites the leadership and professional knowledge of Don Gandre, Bill Laatch, Bill Kuepper, Jim Murray and Kumar Kangayappan. “UW-Green Bay professors had a genuine interest in their students,” he said.

Arie says he was well prepared and ready for the workforce following graduation. He joined Mead and Hunt, an architectural and engineering firm, in 1975. Shortly after his arrival, he earned the position of Federal Hydroelectric Licensor, a career path created by a burgeoning new industry and a company that he’s proud to serve. As a testament to his leadership and his UWGB education, Arie says Mead and Hunt started small, but he’s helped the company expand to 27 offices and 600 employees. And one of those employees is near and dear to his heart: Arie’s son, Chris, who is following in his footsteps.

Facing an uncertain future, Arie knew that a UWGB education would transform him into a viable candidate for many careers, even those that didn’t yet exist.

Name: Arie DeWaal

Grad Year: 1972

Major: Regional Analysis

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.

IMG_5706

UWGB Transformed Samantha by…

…preparing her for leadership, graduate school, and beyond.

When Samantha Jackson began her freshman year at UWGB, she asserts that she wasn’t in desperate need of self-assurance, but the experience changed her nonetheless. “I wasn’t extremely shy or quiet, but I wasn’t very outspoken either,” Samantha says, “and over the course of my time at UWGB, I didn’t grow out of my introvert behavior, but I did become more confident in myself.”

Samantha says she wouldn’t have met such incredible people and wouldn’t have aspired to other campus leadership positions without first attaining roles as a Resident Assistant and Community Advisor. “Without those jobs, I would not have met some of the people who became my close friends and fellow English majors,” she said. “One of the other RAs my sophomore year was the president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society. He told me to come to a few meetings, and I did. This started my path to becoming Sigma Tau Delta’s President my senior year.”

Samantha’s involvement with Sigma Tau Delta ultimately led to a trip to Seattle, Washington for the American Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference for a weekend with six of her fellow Sigma Tau Delta members. Of the trip, Samantha says, “It was the most memorable and impacting event of my career. The opportunity to meet so many other writers was amazing, and it was a conference geared towards my passion, major, and career interests. Opportunities like that do not come around very often.”

Samantha also credits Rebecca Meacham for challenging her to become a better writer and exposing her to the Sheepshead Review, UWGB’s literary magazine, an experience Samantha insists, “has proved so useful to me after graduation.” She also recognizes Bryan Vescio, Samantha’s academic advisor, for helping her decide where to attend graduate school, as well as Stefan Hall and Chuck Rybak who “made each and every class wonderful and memorable. I still use much of what they taught me today.”

So far, Samantha’s leadership experiences, pre-professional development, and UWGB education has allowed her to attend graduate school at UW-Madison, in its School of Library and Information Sciences.

“I know what is expected of me, and my experiences have helped me obtain a job,” Samantha says. “I was taught so much, and I still use what I learned at UW-Green Bay every day.”

Name: Samantha Jackson

Grad Year: 2014

Major: English

Minor: Information Science

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.

Witt, Molly

UWGB Transformed Molly by…

…letting her step outside of her comfort zone.

Molly Witt has always loved other cultures, and she says she was fortunate to attend a university where so many others shared the same passion.

“As a German major I had two very important people impact my life–Jennifer Ham and David Coury–who pushed me to advance my proficiency, my cultural competency, and encouraged me to engage in the opportunities outside of class,” Molly says. “They made my studies tough but enjoyable. In fact, I never wanted to miss their classes because of they way they inspired me to learn.”

Later in her studies, UWGB and its Office of International Education facilitated Molly’s participation in a year long study abroad opportunity at UWGB’s sister school in Germany. Molly says, “That year is by far my most memorable year in my life and helped me step outside of my norm to immerse myself in something totally different.”

Today, Molly says she wouldn’t be where she is today “without the education, internships, study abroad experience and networking opportunities I received at UWGB.” Molly now works in the education field, traveling the world to talk to students about attending a university in the USA, allowing others to step outside of their comfort zones to see what the world truly has to offer.

Name: Molly Witt

Grad Year: 2005

Major: German

Minor: Business

 

Photo submitted by: Molly Witt

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.

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We were married at the Blue Whale Coffee House

My husband, Paul Wauters, and I met in the Studio Arts building in March of 1981.  We were both returning students in our late twenties. He was a union carpenter and I was a social worker but we were now students pursuing our individual desires to be an artist. We shared art history and sculpture classes that semester. During break from our three-hour studio arts sculpture class, taught by Tom Tasch, we had our first real talk. We shared a Coke in the Studio Arts Commons area and Paul asked me out for a first date.  He had invited me to meet him at the BlueWhale Coffeehouse that night to see the Big Yellow and the Mellow Fellows. But I got cold feet and stood Paul up. I knew I had made a big mistake the next day. To make a long story short, we eventually did go out for our first date, a Fellini Film playing at the University. We have been together ever since. We will be celebrating 33 years of marriage this year.

We chose to get married during winter interim on January 30th, 1982. We asked Father Stephenson from the UW Ecumenical Center to officiate our wedding at the BlueWhale Coffeehouse. We pleaded with the UWGB food services team to cater for us because we loved their chili and wanted an informal buffet style reception.  They agreed and did an amazing job, creating beautiful fruit kabobs, veggie trays, plus chili and sandwiches. Our service was held in front of the fireplace by a roaring fire. Our friends Lee Nichols and Jim Kramer provided live folk music throughout the night. We rented a champagne fountain filled with French Champagne as our big splurge. It was a beautiful setting that meant a great deal to both of us. I graduated in Spring of 1982 with a B.A. in Communication Arts. Paul graduated in January 1983 with a B.A. in Studio Arts. We both went on to have very successful careers in the arts and sincerely treasure our memories of UWGB, especially the BlueWhale Coffeehouse. Thank You!!

Laural Virtues Wauters
Communication Arts, 1982

UWGB Transformed Katrina by…

…redirecting her career path.

When Katrina VerHagen began her college experience, she convinced herself that becoming a Business Administration major was the surest path to success. However, midway through her very first year at UWGB, Katrina realized that a business-oriented job simply wasn’t for her, and she allowed UWGB’s outstanding faculty and staff to steer her toward a career she truly loved.

“I was determined to become a Business Administration major, but UWGB’s education made me realize that I needed to get out into the community and make a difference,” Katrina says.

With the guidance of Georgiana Wilson-Doenges, Dennis Lorenz, and Ryan Martin, Katrina refocused her career path and earned a degree in Psychology and Human Development —her newly found passions — thanks to UWGB’s dedicated faculty and staff.

“I went from heading toward a career that would have been less than ideal toward one I truly love. The UWGB experience allowed me to grow as a person and truly find my passion, which sets you up for success,” Katrina says.

Name: Katrina VerHagen

Grad Year: 2013

Major: Psychology and 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.

john katers

UWGB Transformed John By…

…offering a world-class education right in his own backyard.

If anyone is the walking embodiment of “Eco U,” it may very well be Green Bay native and award-winning Professor John Katers. One may assume that a distinguished university faculty member would come from a scholastic pedigree, but Katers’ transformation story has humble beginnings.

“I have to admit that as a first generation college student, there was not a lot of thought put into college,” John explains. “And being from Green Bay, UWGB seemed like the easiest choice. However, UWGB really was transformative and has always been there for me when I needed it most: not the building or the campus, but the people.”

For Katers, UWGB offered the personal and academic support he needed, yet also an interdisciplinary approach to learning that has perfectly prepared him for the modern world.

“The close connection with faculty and staff [at UWGB] makes for a great learning environment. As a student who was not entirely sure which direction to go, it was not a problem for Professors Jack Day and Mike Troyer to assist me in creating a program that essentially included a major in Business Administration and Environmental Science — an odd combination in 1991, but perfect for the world we live in today.”

In keeping with Katers’ assertion regarding UWGB’s tightly knit learning community, he has dozens of UWGB faculty, staff, and friends to thank.

“There were numerous faculty and staff who contributed to my success as a student at UWGB, and later as a faculty member. At the top of that list would be Bob Wenger, Jack Day, Chuck Rhyner, Dave Jowett, John Stoll, Greg Davis, Bud Harris, Lee Schwartz, Jim Wiersma, and Mike Troyer. All were tremendous teachers, and I learned a lot from each and every one of them. I also had the great fortune of working with many of them as colleagues on a regular basis, which was an honor for me. Each and every one of them provided the foundation for my long-term success of UWGB.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1991 and his master’s degree in 1993 from UWGB, Katers continued his education at Marquette University, earning his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Katers was thrilled to return to UWGB, and to work alongside his mentors.

“Mary Kohrell worked for the UW Extension Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center (SHWEC) and was housed at UWGB,” Johns explains. “Mary literally changed my direction in life several times. The first time was when I was an undergraduate student and stopped in her office — located at the top of the stairwell closest to the elevator in the Laboratory Sciences building — to learn more about what she was doing. At some point during the discussion, I asked whether she needed any help doing research or working on projects. Mary responded that she had been waiting for somebody like me to come to her office.”

“I worked for Mary during my last year as an undergraduate student, developed some interesting research ideas, and ultimately continued to work for Mary as I completed my thesis project for my graduate degree in Environmental Science and Policy. Normally, that might be the end, as I then went to Marquette for my Ph.D. However, two years later, Mary tracked me down in Milwaukee to let me know that there were two full-time job openings with SHWEC at UWGB and that I would be a good candidate. I interviewed for the position, received my first full-time professional job, and had the opportunity to continue learning from Mary for the next four years.

“I then accepted a faculty position in Natural and Applied Sciences at UWGB,” says Katers, “and the rest is history.” And what a history it has been.

In addition to serving as Chair of the Natural and Applied Sciences and Environmental Science departments, Katers has been honored with a Founder’s Award for Community Outreach and the UWGB Student Nominated Teaching Award. However for Katers, it has always been about his students.

“As a faculty member, the best memories are when students graduate and get their ‘dream job,’ which means that we have done our jobs as faculty. The longer I am at UWGB, the more I get to see students progress through their careers, which is rewarding,” he said.

But he’d never be able to make such an impact on his own students if he hadn’t received a transformative UWGB education, right in his own backward.

“Through my time at UWGB as student, I was really able to hone in my interests and take advantage of my skills. The faculty and staff allowed me to continue to grow by presenting new challenges and assisting me in meeting those challenges,” John insists.

“I am fully convinced that without UWGB, I would be in much different situation than I am today.”

John Katers

Major: Environmental Science, ‘91

Minor: Business Administration

Master’s Degree: Environmental Science and Policy, ‘93

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.

Mary Cuene

UWGB Transformed Mary by…

…preparing her to be a leader.

UWGB did transform me,” explains Mary Quinnette Cuene, “from an office manager to an educator and leader. My education and work experience prepared me to begin a career in teaching at NWTC, a career which continues today. I had learned to learn, learned to think, and learned to communicate. But I had also learned to be a leader.”

However prodigious her UWGB education, Mary Quinnette Cuene insists it was her social experiences involving her children that left an indelible impression upon her.

“UWGB will always hold a special place in my heart,” Mary says. “While I attended classes, my two toddlers attended the UWGB pre-school — it is now gone — but they were both proud to have ‘graduated’ from the pre-school before beginning kindergarten.”

Mary continues by asserting, “One of my favorite memories is my children making a field trip from the pre-school to the Ecumenical Center–now called the Mauthe Center — where I worked as the office manager from 1985 to 1988. The little group would hike the length of the campus and then settle in for a video in the center’s TV lounge–an excursion for them and heart-warming for me.”

But of course, Mary’s coursework and influential teachers were at the forefront of her UWGB transformation.

“While on campus, many professors and staff encouraged me to learn and achieve. I worked hard, as so many UWGB students do, having a family, a job, and homework. Professor Michael Kraft instilled in me a love of public policy, explaining just what it invokes and why it is important, and I loved dissecting policies in his classes,” Mary explains.

And Mary also remembers an interaction on graduation day with a another influential teacher who immediately questioned her sunny disposition.

“It was all worth it on graduation day, receiving my diploma and marching proudly. As I exited the ceremony, Professor Ron Baba challenged me yet again, asking me why I was smiling, as he insisted I wasn’t nearly done. I was quizzical. But, how could he have known I would begin my graduate work only a few months later?”

In her professional career, Mary Quinnette Cuene has left an immeasurable mark on Wisconsin’s educational landscape. During her tenure at NWTC, Mary served for five years as President of the faculty. She was also appointed by Governor Jim Doyle to the Wisconsin Technical College System Board of Directors in 2003, with her tenure ending in May 2015. While on the board, Mary served on countless committees–both as Vice President and President–with the latter appointment leading to her service on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents for three years.

And ever since her graduation in 1988, Mary has stayed connected to the UWGB campus, serving on the UWGB Alumni Board for a number of years and becoming a lifetime member of the Alumni Association. Currently, Mary serves the Alumni Association by evaluating applications for the Legacy Scholarships, Alumni Scholarships, and Outstanding Student Awards, a service that she insists is rewarding in multiple ways, just as her relationship with UWGB has always been.

“Indeed, UWGB transformed me from an office manager to positions where I could affect higher education public policy in the state of Wisconsin for many years,” Mary says. “A dream come true.”

Name: Mary Quinnette Cuene

Grad Year: 1988

Majors: Public and Environmental 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.