Success Stories

Karl Buelow
Dom Covington

Bachelor of Applied Studies, Leadership and Organizational Studies

How did you hear about UW Oshkosh online? What convinced you to apply?
“I originally started my education at Fox Valley Technical College so I had a little back and forth with the people there during my senior year before I got my associate degree in digital marketing. I think it was the second-to-last semester before I finished my degree when I began thinking about what I want to do moving forward and I decided I wanted to get a bachelor’s [degree]. While I was researching, one of my advisors at FVTC told me about the online programs at UWO. I reached out to Debra Harris and next thing you know, I’m signing up for the online programs. It is pretty convenient and it kept me on path to graduate in the same time if I had never transferred in the first place.

I didn’t have the typical misconception that so many people have that so many people have, which is that online learning is so much easier. You’ll have some more free time, that is true, however you have to hold yourself accountable. That is the hardest part for anybody. That is the one thing I learned earlier on that helped me continue to be successful when I transferred over [to UW Oshkosh].”

How did the online learning environment lend itself to your personality and learning style?
“… I prefer the 100% online format more than anything versus being on campus to take a class. I’ve come to learn to adapt to be able to get the most out of any learning environment. I will say initially that when I started online classes, the myth that it would be so much easier was proven wrong.”

How did the Student Services Support Staff assist you?
“[The advising staff] helped me understand what emphasis in the bachelor of applied studies really are and what you can do with them.”

“I’m a professional DJ and have been in military service for the past six years so my whole thought process was what can I do after I graduate, what do I want to do with a four-year degree because experience is more paramount than anything. She really helped me narrow down the focus of which degree was best for me, depending on which field I wanted to get into. She really helped me figure that out. She also broke down the steps that I needed to complete for each program and told me what I needed to do for each step to get me into the best spot. Every semester, she mapped out what classes I needed to take and laid out the whole plan for me. She was definitely integral in me getting to this point of graduating in a few weeks.”   

Favorite course you took?
“It was Collaborative Leadership where I learned how to apply what I had been learning. That is the course I gravitated to most.”

Biggest things you learned in the program that are helping you in marine corps officer candidate school?
“The biggest thing I took away from the program does not have a one-track mind. There are so many avenues and so many different styles to leadership as far as how to motivate others, how to understand your leadership style, how to draw from your strength and improve your weaknesses. That has been the biggest thing with me, especially as I have developed into more leadership roles. Every semester as I went through the program, I got better and learned more and I began to take on more leadership roles in the Marines. For instance as a member of my fraternity, I have been in a leadership position each semester. It has really helped me be more confident in my abilities as a leader. Even in the DJ realm, which is more individual based, but it did help me become involved. I’ve done a lot more interacting with people. While people may think of DJs as just partiers, I wanted people to think that I’m actually out here serving the community and doing other things that you typically would not think of. I want to show what a DJ could look like as another form. The whole thing packages itself to just show that there are different avenues of leadership that may not be highlighted sometimes, but still has its worth.”

What advice would you give to someone who has been thinking of enrolling in online courses? Why should they pick UWO Online?
“What I would start off with for anybody, whether it is starting school online or anything else, is understanding what you want to do afterwards. That’s going to determine your purpose and carries you through those classes and the moments where you have to do some things that seem monotonous. The biggest thing is figuring out what you want to do and what can you do in the meantime to prepare for that moment. As far as learning online, I would want people to understand that you have to have the discipline to do the work on your own time. You also want to understand what your major can do for you. Some people understand the L&OS degree from a broad perspective, but still ask “What can you do with that degree?” Essentially, it is all up to what experiences I have had. I make the best out of it, which is the case for any degree. Understand what you’re going to go to school for, whether you do it online or in person, and then understand who you are as a student then make the best out of it and that major will serve you at the end of the day.”

What are your future plans?
“I have been in Oshkosh for the last six years. Once I graduate and my lease is up, I will re-locate to Milwaukee for full-time training [to prepare for Officer Candidate School]. Obviously, driving back and forth presents a little bit of a challenge. I’m able to stay up here [in Oshkosh] for a while, but once I’m done, my training will begin full time in Milwaukee. Then I will move on to the actual boot camp for officers. At that point, I will move out to Virginia, where the actual training will be conducted for the next 10 weeks and then it depends on wherever the cards land for me as far as the job I get placed in and where the next level of training would be. As far the short term, Milwaukee will be the next move.

“[My interest in the military] started way before I even was in Oshkosh. I was at the point where I went to school for a year, but didn’t really have a focus on anything, so I took a gap year and figured out where I could go to school and work at the same time. Toward the tail end of that phase, a co-worker of mine said “Hey, you’d make a great Marine” and somehow that stuck in my head. Eventually, I started doing some research and then I said, “You know what, this is something I can get into” and then I enlisted. Now originally, I was going to go into active duty so I would only have one semester at school and then pretty much take the next four years off, but luckily, I was talked out of doing that and I went into the reserves so I could go to school and perform my military service at the same time. That was how it started and then it grew over time to where I wanted to pursue it full time.” 

Kyle Fugar

Bachelor of Applied Studies, Leadership and Organizational Studies

How did you hear about UW Oshkosh online? What convinced you to apply?
“It was great to have people nearby like Brandon Pannier to talk to on a regular basis. I could meet with him regularly and talk about semester plans so it just seemed like a good fit.”

What were your preconceptions about online learning before starting the leadership and organizational studies program?
“I liked the idea that a seven-week program allows you to get more done by seeing progress toward an end goal sooner than what it would be in a face-to-face, 14-week classes.”

How did the online learning environment lend itself to your personality and learning style?
“I would say adapting to the discussion format was unique to the online format. What helped me was have some familiar classmates. That made it easier to communicate. It’s always easier to talk to people you have talked to before so I always made sure to keep in touch with classmates.”

How did the academic advising staff and resources of UWO help you?
“The first time I met with the academic advising staff, we went through everything with me and explained how credits would transfer in to an appropriate program that would fit my needs. That was step No. 1. Step No. 2 was to put a plan together to get that degree and then he brought up the idea of Credit for Prior Learning and how the program worked. He laid out a two-and-a-half-year plan for myself with which classes I’m going to take during which semester and which ones will help me build a portfolio through the Credit for Prior Learning process.”    

Favorite course you took?
“I am a literal type of person, I enjoy facilities types of work. I have experience in engineering setting so the technical side is not why I need the degree. A leadership degree gives me a well-rounded background. I have a Master electrician’s license, I have two associate’s degrees in construction and maintenance as well as a leadership bachelor’s degree gives me that well-rounded background I need as a future leader and manager. This program is more about people, instead of buildings and that’s what my goal is for the future.”

Biggest things you learned in the program that are helping you as facilities manager at Oshkosh Corporation?
“By taking online courses, I really learned how to write. It is an art to write well. Doing everything online and always turning homework in written form while always being graded on that really helped me out a ton.

“I also learned to appreciate the different backgrounds of people more and having a better understanding of where people are coming from and realizing how I can utilize and materialize that knowledge at work when relating to people.”

What advice would you give to someone who has been thinking of enrolling in online courses? Why should they pick UWO Online?
“The main thing I would recommend doing is working with an adviser to figure out a calendar of when you are going to take which classes, how you’re going to utilize Credit for Prior Learning. Setting up little benchmarks along the way like this will help you feel like you’re moving closer to your end goal. For me, that was huge. If you look at it without Credit for Prior Learning, you’re only taking three credits every seven weeks that would have taken me two to two-and-a-half years or 150% more time than when I got into the program. As an adult learner, having a goal that is three to four years out there is difficult. If you can bring that time frame down a little bit by occasionally taking courses together and then use Credit for Prior Learning to accomplish more each semester, that is what helped me the most.

Without Credit for Prior Learning, it would have felt like a bigger hill to climb. When looking at some of the personnel and leadership course content in L&OS, I said “You know what? I do this every day at work.” What really helped me was that I ended up building portfolios for my civilian career and my military career so this experience enhanced both sides. Everyone has a different story and a different background. You know some of the people already who are in your classes and they are in similar roles. They are just like me in that they can’t keep moving up or going forward because they’re lacking a bachelor’s degree. They’re really good at this stuff already so taking advantage of that Credit for Prior Learning is huge. You have to take that one-credit course and once you build that one portfolio, it can help you with every single class that you think you are capable of getting credit for because it’s similar to what I do in my job.”

Christine Gentile

Bachelor of Applied Studies, Leadership and Organizational Studies

Describe how your experience with UW Oshkosh Online Degree programs helped you reach your potential?
“The flexibility of the online Leadership and Organizational Studies program has been extremely beneficial for me as a full-time working mom. Having the ability to take courses from anywhere at my own pace is perfect for me. I was excited to see an online undergraduate degree offered at UW Oshkosh as I am looking to grow and advance my career as a leader. The program has been a wonderful and beneficial experience.

Jennifer Jensen has been absolutely wonderful. When I started to plan for my bachelors degree without having stepped foot in a classroom for almost three decades, she was extremely patient with getting me to understand what to look for and how to plan out my classes in the most effective and efficient way. She has also been very gracious with helping me familiarize myself with the school by taking me on a tour when I came to campus. She has been extremely helpful and responsive.”

Cheri Kilty

Bachelor of Liberal Studies

How did you benefit from the online learning experience at UW Oshkosh?
“I was able to still work, still be a mother, still be a grandmother and wife all while going to school. The program at UW Oshkosh was the best for my life. It was really the best fit for my life because of the program, the length, and the way my advisor was able to sum everything up was invaluable. The availability of the staff really was the catalyst for me to pick the program at UW Oshkosh.

“During my first day of classes, my husband was diagnosed with stage 1 4 cancer. The courses were online, but I still needed to work, I was able to take my computer and all of my stuff everywhere I went. I took classes sitting bedside at a nursing home, sitting bedside and chemo and radiation. My youngest child is in the Navy so I was able to go and see her when she was in Florida and San Diego. It didn’t stop me from taking any of my classes or completing assignments because I was still mobile.

“I was able to fold everything together with the availability of the professors, the adjunct instructors and all the people who were running the classes. They made their syllabi so clear that I was able to predict what I was able to do and fit everything together.”

How did the academic advising staff assist you?
“The academic advising staff was so hands-on and made herself available that I was able to just work through the program. She and I worked together and that was the key. I gave the staff a range of my goals and she set it up for me.”

Biggest misconception of online learning before enrolling at UW Oshkosh?
“You still had camaraderie in the classes with chat rooms and were still able to make connections.”

How is your degree helping you today?
“I’m a transition specialist in the cobra department for an employee benefits company. I also took the leadership portion, I was able to apply the things I was learning right away. I will probably take a year off and then get my Master’s, I’m also looking again at UW Oshkosh for its program.”

Dennis Martinson and Katherine Langdon

No Time Limit to Earn A Red, White and Blue Cord

Two veterans earned UWO online degrees in Fall 2018 after extensive service time.

“I’ve been waiting 25 years for this!”

Dennis Martinson milled about Room 158 of Kolf Fieldhouse to pick up the red, white and blue striped cord he was to wear when walking in the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh 2018 Mid-Year Commencement ceremony, an addition to his cap and gown he earned with his veteran status.

Two veterans who received their online degrees and traveled to campus to participate in the proceedings that day — Martinson and Katherine Langdon — both waited at least 20 years between starting college and receiving their respective diplomas.

Between balancing family responsibilities, extensive service time in the armed forces and chasing down professional endeavors, Martinson and Langdon agreed it was well worth the wait to have the red, white and blue cord draped around their neck.

Katherine Langdon ’18 · Bachelor of Liberal Studies

       

Langdon began her military career in the Army Reserves when she was 18, but her unit was later shut down by executive order. With a changing family dynamic and no job prospects on the horizon, her best option was to continue her service.

“I had a small child and I couldn’t find a good job so I joined the Navy and it provided me with a trade, electronic technician,” Langdon said.

Langdon showed her penchant for leadership by working her way through the ranks as an Electronics Technician.

“Being in the Navy gave me the discipline, knowledge and confidence to keep pushing forward,” Langdon said. “[My experience] has definitely helped get me to where I am today.”

After her service, Langdon has established herself as a project management consultant.

“I’ve been in the technical field for 20 years now and my bachelor’s degree from the UW Oshkosh Division of Online and Continuing Education will allow me to continue moving up in my career and develop into a leadership role.”

And she has no plans to slow down at any point in the near future.

“I’m hoping that my experience, bachelor’s degree and continuing with school will lead to even bigger things. I’m starting on my M.B.A. at UWO in February. I’m hoping once I have that done, I’ll be able to open my own business.” 

Dennis Martinson ’18 ·  Bachelor of Liberal StudiesOrganizational Administration

Martinson marveled at the evolution of higher education as he progresses toward his degree.

“I first started taking college courses when I was in the military,” Martinson said. “I moved every three years so I had to stop and find another college and gather all of my transcripts when I arrived on campus.

By the time I got to UWO, I had attended five different colleges over a period of more than 20 years so I was able to go where I needed to go and be able to stick with the same college and actually finish my degree.”

The Transfer Credit and Credit for Prior Learning standards and procedures implemented by the Student Services Staff at UWO eased Martinson’s transition.

“I’m very grateful to UW Oshkosh because I arrived on campus with at least 100 credits and no degree. They offered me a path to finally finish my degree and I was able to finish in just over a year. Now I have my bachelor’s degree that I started 25 years ago.”

Martinson now enjoys a career as a Maintenance Leader at Proctor & Gamble in Martinsburg, W.V.

“The biggest benefit I received was that a lot of the courses I took applied to my current field as a contractor,” Martinson said. “I was able to complete some assignments at work because I could use some of the courses on the job, like project management.”

100% Access to Veteran’s Resource Center for UWO Online Students

Students looking to go back to school after service in the armed forces may not know where to begin the process. That is where the UW Oshkosh Veterans Resource Center can help.

“Everything we offer on campus is open to online students,” UWO Veterans Resource Coordinator Timber Smith said. “We have several online students from the Fox Valley area who come in to our office every single day to use the center and take their classes. Plus, they like the free coffee.”

Other than the free-flowing java in the lounge, the Veterans Resource Center provides an inviting atmosphere where veterans can connect with colleagues who are facing similar challenges.

“We provide more of an informal support system,” UWO Veterans Education Benefits Coordinator Michelle Munns said. “We have done buddy programs, peer mentoring and things like that before with more of a formal setup, but vets really click with those who have had similar experiences.”

Regardless of where veterans may find themselves, UW Oshkosh has the tools to help them along the path to their red, white and blue cord.

 

Tim Whitham, MS, EFO

Bachelor of Applied Science, Fire and Emergency Management Services

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Fire and Emergency Response Management graduate Tim Whitham, MS, EFO is teaching a pair of Core Education courses at Fire-Rescue International, the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Conference and Expo, this weekend (Aug. 7-10, 2019) in Atlanta.

Whitham has been the Fire Chief in Edwardsville, Kan., since 2015 and also serves as an Adjunct Faculty Member in the College of Safety and Emergency Services at Columbia Southern University.

Whitham’s courses at Fire-Rescue International (FRI) will concentrate on developing best practices for fire department leadership and helping fire departments of all sizes implement fire prevention strategies in a variety of settings.

“My first [session at FRI] investigates leadership rules of engagement for officers,” Whitham said. “It is designed to give participants a guide or a template to work from. Twenty-eight different leadership styles have been identified, but most of the fire officer handbooks for certification purposes only cover about four. None of [the text books] teach you what to do or what not to do.

“The class really focuses on traits that have been successful for company officers when out talking to people, but you have to do the same thing with your employees when you’re in the firehouse. You can’t just bark orders because you have that rank and title to go with it.”

The next course on Whitham’s FRI 2019 schedule will discuss how departments of all sizes can initiate programs to carry out inspections.

“The second class I’m teaching is about conducting fire prevention services for company officers,” Whitham said. “It is geared toward introducing how to establish a program and how you develop those company officers to become responsible for performing those inspections when you don’t have a fire prevention branch.

“[Fire and emergency response personnel] can’t go out and buy a book to understand how the prevention model and fire codes work, not to mention what needs to be done to start an inspection.”

Whitham highlighted two major factors of UW Oshkosh online degree programs that helped him become regarded as an expert in the field, the first being the asynchronous course structure.

“My experience at UW Oshkosh was great,” Whitham said. “I could complete my UW Oshkosh undergraduate work while I was going through the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy.

“I flourished academically and professionally with UW Oshkosh because I could set my own schedule. Online learning was a great platform for me because it allowed flexibility of life to occur.”

Whitham praised the responsive and influential faculty of all UW Oshkosh online courses as the second factor.

“I had professors who pushed me to think outside of the box. It didn’t matter if it was the general education requirements or the core requirements for my degree. The professors were top-notch and pushed me to succeed. Some of them even pushed me to keep going in higher education.”

After completing his undergraduate coursework at UWO, Whitham went on to obtain a master’s degree in Disaster Preparedness and Executive Fire Leadership from Grand Canyon University.

“I was prepared for my graduate degree experience at the master’s level. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t get that encouragement from the UW Oshkosh professors.”

When asked about his favorite UW Oshkosh course, Whitham could not pick one in particular.

“I even enjoyed the difficult math courses because I had good professors who explained the process to us. There really was not a bad course that I had. I was there to learn and really tried to take away everything that I could from each course. The courses are what you make of them.”