By: Mark A. Mone
Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
There is no one path to finding your future success. At the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, we have many open doors that lead to what you want to accomplish in life.
Just last month, more than 3,300 people received a degree from UWM and are now beginning new chapters in their lives, whether starting new jobs, doing research or continuing to graduate school. Along the way, these individuals experienced many unexpected steps and just as many successes. Here are just a few of their remarkable stories.
Sandra Plascencia faced many obstacles on her way to earning a degree in social work from UWM. She was born in a small town in Mexico as the youngest of eight children and didn’t have much financial support; yet she became the first from her family to go to college. Sandra made new friends by getting involved in UWM’s clubs, events and activities.
She completed an internship at the Department of Health and Human Services in Waukesha, which solidified her desire to help others through social work. Sandra told us that the path to her dream belonged to many. “When you’re a first-generation student, this dream… it’s not just mine,” she said. “It’s of all of the people that came before me — my parents, my siblings, even my grandparents when they were raising my parents.”
Before coming to UWM, Abbey Palmer had a successful career as a massage therapist. A car crash left her unable to continue with the physical demands of that work, and she needed to find a new path. Abbey decided to pursue her love of languages and linguistics, which opened up possibilities that she hadn’t known before.
Over the past two summers, Abbey has traveled to China and Russia, and she has taught English to refugees. The next steps on her new path lead to the University of Oxford in England to work on a master’s degree. She is both proud and amazed at the direction her life has taken. “I’m going places,” she said, “and I’ve been places just in the past few years that I never thought about as possibilities.”
Ali Bakhshinejad ran a business with his brother in Iran, but he wanted to broaden his world even further. After earning a master’s degree in Iceland, he came to UWM and immersed himself in research and entrepreneurism while earning a doctorate in engineering. He did not know anyone when he came here and wasn’t sure how he would feel.
Ali told us about the incredible acceptance and encouragement he received by being involved in UWM’s Student Startup Challenge and I-Corps program. The experiences helped him promote his business ideas and research, which could lead to better treatment for brain aneurysms. He is considering several job offers and has found a home in Wisconsin, where he intends to stay.
Sandra, Abbey and Ali are all examples of how life’s sometimes-unexpected chapters can lead to new paths to success. These remarkable individuals are learning, exploring and thinking at greater levels than ever before – and they did it right here in Milwaukee. With their new experiences and education, all three are confidently walking through open doors to their futures. That is the power of getting a college degree.
Please visit us and learn about what your paths to success can be. From now through Sept. 14, if you take a campus tour, you will receive free tickets to Summerfest, State Fair or a Milwaukee Brewers game. Visit uwm.edu/summervisit to schedule your tour today.