…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
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.