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)

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

Studying Abroad: Jordan and Israel

In the summer of 2012 I was part of a six student group that traveled to Jordan on a study abroad course led by Dr. Heidi Sherman*. Dr. Sherman convinced me it would be a good idea to go, and so I embarked on a journey with 5 other students I did not know, but would come to love. The course, which had a historical and political focus, and would take us all across Jordan, to Israel, and parts of Palestine, is still one of the most cherished experiences I’ve ever had.

As the daughter of Palestinians, the opportunity to go on this trip was thrilling. It had been several years since I had traveled to the region, and I knew this educational opportunity would provide me with knowledge and experiences only possible through a study abroad course. Every day was full of memories, both strange ones and amazing ones. I will recount a few here, but please know there are many more I want to share, but words alone wouldn’t do them justice.

  1. Saw every historical site there is to see in Jordan. Our first stops included Ajloun (an old Crusader castle), and Jerash (a Greco-Roman city), but we also visited Petra (an unbelievable site to behold), Kerak Castle, and other sites. The same was true for Israel: we saw many holy sites, and learned about the region’s differing historical narratives.
  2. Enjoyed a screening of a documentary that had yet to be released. I was so awed by the connections that Dr. Sherman had in Jordan, and they really came in handy when we sat down with filmmaker Sherine Salama to watch The Last Days of Yasser Arafat.” At that point, few people around the world had seen the movie, and Sherine was kind enough to let us join that exclusive group. It was an eye-opening documentary, and led us to more opportunities to learn about the history and politics of the region.
  3. Met and learned from experts. Our trip took place the same summer as the first Egyptian election since their revolution. We got to sit down with a professor of political science, Dr. Bader, and listen to him give his analysis of the situation and his prediction for Egypt’s future. We also met historical experts at each site we visited, and were led on different adventures by locals who knew the land better than anyone else.
  4. Slept in the desert. And it was amazing. We ended up in Wadi Rum for a day and got to experience it in such special ways. We rode camels, saw stone carvings that were created thousands of years ago, ate food that was buried in the sand as part of the cooking process, and slept underneath the stars. This is one part of the trip I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
  5. Visited a refugee camp. Jordan is notorious for having a lot of refugees, and we visited a Palestinian refugee camp that has been around for decades. We spoke with authorities that run the camp, got to see what living conditions were like, interacted with some school kids, and heard the stories of some of the residents. It was a moving experience.

In general, visiting Jordan was amazing because the people there are so kind and always willing to help. Middle Easterners are often noted for their hospitality, and that repeatedly proved to be true during our stay.

After the trip was over, I extended my stay by staying with relatives in Jordan before heading to Palestine. My immediate family joined me, including my dad who had not been back to Palestine in nearly 20 years. I learned a lot about myself, my family, and Palestine that summer, and it has provided me with a goal for my future. None of that would have been possible without taking the leap and studying abroad through UW-Green Bay. Since that experience, I have told every student to study abroad; in fact, I wish it was mandatory and more funding was available for students to do it. Even though each trip will be different, as long as you have an amazing professor, interested students, and help from the incredible staff in the Office of International Education, every trip will be a success.

*Heidi Sherman deserves a special shout-out for all she did to make the trip memorable. Thank you, Heidi, for convincing me to travel abroad, and for being a role model and friend throughout my years at UW-Green Bay. To this day, there are not enough words to describe how grateful I am for your friendship and for all you’ve helped me accomplish through your encouragement.

*The included photo was taken at Ajloun, the Crusader Castle. From left to right: Dr. Sherman, Morgan, Heba, Natasha, Sergei, Ayman (Arabic tutor), Ari, Dr. Khalid (Director of MALIC, the Arabic language center).*

Posted by Heba Mohammad

UWGB Stars

Every institution has employees who make it great, and UW-Green Bay is no exception. During my time there, I was fortunate enough to interact with a number of people who are true stars, and I want to thank each of them for shaping me into the person I am today.

Katia Levintova: I am willing to bet I am not the first person to write about the impact that Katia had on them, and for good reason. As the chair of Political Science for many semesters, Katia interacted with many students and bestowed upon them good advice, both for their college careers and for life. I feel confident saying no advisor has ever taken as much of an interest in the well-being of every student in their department as Katia has. After spending a semester as a teaching assistant with her, I saw how truly dedicated she was to her job and her students. Seriously, she never rests! And her response time to emails is unbeatable. On a personal note, Katia walked me through a difficult time when I was trying to decide what to do post-graduation. It seemed as if she knew me better than I knew myself, and her advice served me well. I would have been completely lost without Katia, and I hope UWGB realizes how lucky they are to have her.

Jeff Willems: As the most senior Area Coordinator in Residence Life, Jeff has worked with a lot of students and always encourages those he comes across to do more, be better, and to live up to their potential. I worked with Jeff for two years as his Resident Assistant, an experience that would have been vastly different without his guidance. Jeff has always been invested in the positive growth of his communities, and he demonstrates that by showing up to events, making himself accessible, and by having a positive attitude about everything. Even though there were times when Jeff purposely made things more challenging, in the end it always served to make us better Resident Assistants, students, and people. I am a better person for having known and worked with Jeff.

Brenda Amenson-Hill: Despite playing an enormously important role as the University’s Dean of Students, Brenda has proven to be one of the most accessible and caring administrators on campus. As the advisor to the Student Government Executive Board, Brenda did a superb job keeping the students informed on issues affecting them and providing us with the tools and resources necessary to pursue ideas for improving campus. Brenda was a true advocate for the student voice, and I often realized just how lucky we were to have her on our side. Maybe without realizing it, Brenda taught me a lot about what it takes to be an effective advocate for issues you care about, and how to be a genuinely good person.

Mark Olkowski: Mark serves as the Assistant Dean of Students, but he also plays the crucial role of advisor to the Student Senate. I met Mark as a freshman, and was lucky to be able to continue that friendship all throughout my time at UWGB. Mark often served as the voice of reason at Student Senate meetings, but he also lent his wisdom to us outside of meetings when anyone needed advice. Mark found a way to make himself approachable at all times, which has benefited more students than I can say. As one of those students, I will be forever grateful for the guidance I received from Mark while at UWGB.

Mai Lo Lee: For many students on campus, Mai Lo Lee was the first staff member on campus they befriended. As a multicultural advisor in the American Intercultural Center, Mai’s bubbly personality and advocacy for multicultural students made her someone students could trust. I first met Mai through another student, and since that first day I always felt comfortable to approach Mai about anything. I learned what it meant to be an advocate for multicultural issues through Mai’s example, and it was Mai who introduced me to opportunities to learn and do more things related to multicultural issues on campus. It was unbelievably comforting to know that I’d always be able to turn to Mai if I needed to because she’d always be willing to support me and teach me more.

Sue Mattison: When Sue first came to UW-Green Bay, there were a lot of positive comments floating around campus. It took me a while to meet her since her position as the Dean of Professional Studies required a lot of her time, but when I finally did, I learned that all those comments were understatements. Sue was so helpful in propelling the issue of childcare on campus forward, but it was the way she did it that inspired me. She worked tirelessly to make sure the issue was on the agendas of decision-makers, and wouldn’t let obstacles stop her from continuing the effort. Generally speaking, Sue was a strong advocate for women, and showed what kind of positive change could happen when you put a dedicated person in a leadership position. I know that for the rest of my life, whenever someone asks me about strong women role models in my life, Sue will be on that list.

Rajeev Bukralia: My first interaction with Rajeev was at his request soon after he was hired at the Associate Provost for Information Services.  He wanted to meet to discuss the needs of students when it came to technology, but also because he wanted to learn more about the students he would be working for. I remember leaving that meeting feeling so positive because the university hired someone who cared so much about students. That was the first meeting of many, and each subsequent meeting left me more excited than the last. Rajeev went out of his way to interact with students and find ways to improve the campus for them. He was another person whose dedication inspired me and showed me what was possible when your cause was selfless. I’ll never forget him saying, “My three passions are computers, libraries, and students.”

Each of the people listed above taught me things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. These UWGB stars are just some among many, but to me they were the brightest ones during my undergraduate career, guiding me through an unforgettable journey. To them, and to all the friends I made during my time at UW-Green Bay, I offer my sincerest thank you!

Posted by Heba Mohammad

Fond memories from Malaysia

In August of 1983 I traveled from my native Malaysia to UWGB. It is the place where I grew up from a school boy to an adult. UWGB itself and its people might have changed and grown since I left, but it has been a part of my life. Many members of the faculty and staff had profound influence on me, and some I am still in contact with… Ron Baba, Ray Hutchison, Per Johnsen, Ismail Shariff, Kumar Kangayappan, Bill Niedzwiedz, David Damkoehler, and Johnson (Patricia). I am now an Urban and Regional Planning Associate Professor at the MARA University of Technology, one of the public universities in Malaysia.

My fondest memories came from his time at the International Student Center, at that time located on the seventh floor of the Cofrin Library. The center was headed by Elizabeth K. Hocking, the Assistant Dean of Students, and she was assisted by her secretary, Nancy Long. They were among the sweetest ladies I have ever met during my stay there. The center was our home away from home, away from home (twice). That’s the place we used to hang out between classes, for drinks and food. There were also the International Dinners, when we played host to our American friends. We cooked our traditional dishes, put on our traditional clothes and got to showcase our cultural dances and customs.”

My experience at UWGB has helped me in many ways. Being a student in a foreign land gave me a different perspective and appreciation about America and its people and cultures, apart from what I saw on TV when I was growing as a child in Malaysia. Although I studied about North American geography in high school, being there myself was amazing. I also got to meet and know some American families on Washington Island and Door County during a program arranged during the 1986 Easter Break. We became good friends and they became my foster families to this day. And then, there was the Green Bay weather and the Green Bay Packers. I played rugby at my school, so American football comes naturally for me.When I wasn’t in class or “LL730” (Library Learning Center), I spent time at the Phoenix Sports Center playing indoor soccer and swimming.

I invite anyone who knew me or my international student friend to join our facebook group… UWGB Alumni – Malaysia.

Ahmad Faisal Alias
Class of 1987
Urban Studies

The day I started my UWGB experience…

img047On August 25, 1974, a date that will forever be a shining moment in my life, I started my University of Wisconsin-Green Bay experience. It seems like it was so long ago, and yet, I can still remember how beautiful the day was…and the University. It was the first time my parents and brother Art had a chance to see the campus. I was so excited showing them around and happy to be in an apartment…not a dorm room like my brother at Lambuth College in Jackson, Tennessee. He was pretty jealous of my digs at UW-Green Bay. I really was not prepared for the emotions of my being dropped off at the Shorewood Club. The picture here is just before that moment. Saying goodbye to my family was very hard! I do remember crying as they drove away and as I walked back to the Bay Apartments. It was a great day for me!

UWGB Men's BasketballShortly after I return to the apartment, Jerry Blackwell was moving in with his folks. He was from Gauley Bridge, West Virginia. We hit it off right away. We played basketball together for the Phoenix and we are still friends today, along with Bryan Boettcher and Dave Getman. My time at UW-Green Bay was a very special time in my life. I still enjoy being a part of this fine university. Go Phoenix!

Steve Taylor
Class of 1979
Business Administration

Kress Events Center Grand Opening

I began working at UW-Green Bay on October 1, 2007, just one month prior to the grand opening of the Kress Events Center. I’ll never forget the excitement and ostensible chaos that enveloped my first weeks on campus. Advancement, the division that took me on, was swept up in a whirlwind of last minute planning, donor events, acknowledgement of stewardship, naming rights, and signage. My first projects were illustrations for the corian plaques that formed the donor wall and a grand opening website. It was marvelous!

Kimberly Vlies
Web/Graphic Designer
Marketing and University Communication
UW-Green Bay