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Jaanika Rosenthal of Fond du Lac was destined to get her start at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Fond du Lac campus. After all, her mom, Jenny Rosenthal, an elementary school teacher, towed her to the campus as a baby in the early 2000s—getting special permission from administrators and professors for the arrangement when childcare was unavailable.

Jaanika Rosenthal

“Twenty years later, that baby is me, also a student at UWO Fond du Lac,” Jaanika said, adding that her family jokes that she’s been in college since she was a baby. Jaanika is completing her associate of arts and science degree this week.

Several other Rosenthal family members have got their start at the campus, her grandma and an aunt on her dad Jason’s side of the family, as well as another aunt―her mom’s sister.

The compassion and flexibility a small campus has for its students—then and now—is not lost on the Rosenthals.

COVID-19 struck and Jaanika said she lived at home and saved money by starting her education at Fond du Lac toward a social work degree. She’ll continue this fall at Winona State, adding that all of her credits transferred without a problem. She intends to continue school through a master’s program.

Besides her classes, the aspiring family and marriage therapist coordinated three jobs during her time at UWO Fond du Lac: she works at the UWO Fond du Lac library, as a server at Schmitty’s Oar House in Fond du Lac and at the front desk at the Fond du Lac Aquatic Center.

Adding to the whirlwind schedule, she attended classes this semester on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Fond du Lac and Tuesdays and Thursdays in Oshkosh.

Library and Archives Assistant Miranda Ridener said Jaanika will be deeply missed.

“She has talked to every patron with the utmost respect and worked diligently on any task assigned to her,” Ridener said. “I cannot wait to see her become an even more dedicated public servant helping others.”

Professor Michael Jurmu has the distinction of having taught both mother and daughter. Jaanika took two of his classes in spring and fall 2021.

“Actually, in one of the first classes she came to me and said, ‘Do you remember my mom?’ Of course that made me feel old,” Jurmu said. “I went back in my records and found Jennifer Rosenthal in my landforms class in spring 2006! Wow! I think Jaanika told me that her mom told her to take my course…how cool is that?”

Jurmu said he remembers a time the class was chatting virtually with a class in Salt Lake City, Utah. The teacher asked if anyone in Fond du Lac spoke Spanish as one of his students struggled with English and he didn’t want to leave the student out of the activity.

“I wasn’t sure if anyone did, but out of nowhere I hear Jaanika say, “I do!” Jurmu recalled.

She ended up chatting with the Utah student for around 15 minutes, excited to share her knowledge of Spanish.

It’s a fond recollection about his second generation student who is all grown up, and charting her own course for the future.

Top photo: Jennifer Rosenthal holds her 18-month-old daughter, Jaanika, on the day in 2003 when she married Jaanika’s father, Jason Rosenthal. In a more recent photo, the parents pose with their daughter who will continue her education toward a career as a therapist.

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