Many UWM graduates return to their communities not only with career skills, but with a passion for helping others. Two students who graduated in December are excellent examples of this type of commitment and caring.
Marande Buck, who earned her master’s degree in social work and a certificate from the Child Welfare Training Program, will continue working to help children find safe and happy homes. Buck, a foster care licensing specialist, works for Saint Aemilian-Lakeside, a Milwaukee agency that contracts with the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare.
Sue Grochowski, who earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing, has been accepted into the College of Nursing’s doctoral program in nursing practice, but she’s already volunteered countless hours in the community for a National Kidney Foundation program.
Both students have seen the needs firsthand.
Grochowski, who was born and raised in Honduras, moved to New Orleans when she was 15. She completed her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of New Orleans and was working as a research technician when Hurricane Katrina disrupted her life.
“It happened so suddenly,” Grochowski says. “I was so involved with my work that I didn’t leave until the night before Katrina hit. I only packed for three days, and I was away for almost three months.”
After moving to Milwaukee, she began working as a researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin. But she felt there was still more she wanted to accomplish.
“I was missing a piece in my career,” says Grochowski. “I felt nursing was the right fit for me because I would be able to interact with patients and help out in the community.” She chose to pursue her nursing degree at UWM because of its focus on community health.
Buck’s family took in countless foster kids when she was growing up. “I always wanted to go into a helping profession,” says Buck, who considered nursing and education before earning her bachelor’s degree in social welfare from UW-Madison.
Both Grochowski and Buck have juggled numerous responsibilities and volunteer work while at UWM.
During her years at UWM, Grochowski traveled to Australia with the International Scholar Laureate Program nursing delegation, and during her first clinical semester, her mentor, instructor Marijo Rommelfaenger, introduced her to the National Kidney Foundation’s KEEP (Kidney Early Evaluation Program) screenings.
“It has made such an impact on my life,” reflects Grochowski. “I became so passionate about what they were doing for at-risk populations. It made me realize that this is what I really want to do.” She remains an active volunteer with the Kidney Foundation, performing health screenings for diabetes and serving as a bilingual Spanish interpreter. She also works as a patient care assistant at Froedtert Hospital, and is doing clinicals in the labor and delivery unit at St. Joseph Hospital.
Buck spent four years juggling her foster care caseload along with graduate school, a required internship and parenting her young daughter. Her baby was just a few months old when Buck’s supervisor encouraged her to go back for her master’s degree and social worker certification. With support from her daughter’s father, family and friends, she decided to dive in.
Both value their UWM education and look forward to using what they’ve learned to help others.
Buck encourages other working adults to go for their academic goals, even if it seems intimidating at first. “If you want to do it, just do it,” she says. “You may be waiting for the perfect time, and the perfect time may never come.”
Grochowski’s goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner. “I want to have an impact educating people on primary prevention,” she says. “Education is the key to helping people make good health decisions, and identifying chronic diseases earlier so that the patient isn’t suffering for years.”