Eleven successful University of Wisconsin Oshkosh graduates have been chosen to receive top honors for 2023 by the Alumni Association Board of Directors. In the months leading up to Homecoming—during which they’ll be honored at an on-campus ceremony—we will introduce you to these outstanding alumni. The full list of award winners is available here.
A University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus has been making a difference for youth and families, working more than 13 years as a prevention educator within the fields of domestic and sexual violence.
Appleton resident Bryan Wright ’08, who earned a degree in criminal justice, has earned a UWO Distinguished Alumni Award, and will be honored during Homecoming weekend.
Wright, a native of Shawano, studied at UWO with plans of becoming a patrol officer. He explained that things changed sophomore year, when he heard a guest speaker talk on campus about a restorative justice program underway in the middle schools. He started interning while a student and earned awards for his efforts.
“I worked with so many struggling families and youth to the point of realizing that these kids would be the ones I was arresting in the future and just knew there needed to be more done,” he said.
He also began working as a behavioral specialist for Lutheran Social Services, working directly with the families in their homes.
“I had dealt with cases of extreme poverty, abuse, neglect and so many things that can literally change every part of you and makes you question every and all things in life,” he said.
He started drinking to drown out the pain of the things he witnessed, and eventually was put in touch with UWO Counseling Services. He said if it wasn’t for the programs UWO offered, he doesn’t know if he would have graduated or even made it to senior year.
Wright said he “completely diverted into the prevention field” and went on to serve his community by working in youth prevention education for Christine Ann Domestic Abuse and Reach Counseling. He hosted family group sessions to promote communication skills and family unity lost due to domestic violence. While working at the agencies, Wright designed an anger and aggression educational program for teen males.
He used his counseling and program design experience as a foundation to create his own company—Dynamic Family Solutions LLC—months prior to the COVID pandemic. He invested in his website, logos, branding and online trainings and courses. He developed a student platform and app to help with drugs, alcohol and vaping issues.
Making a positive impact
UWO assistant professor Matt Richie said Wright has devoted his career to social justice issues and working with youth in the juvenile justice system.
He said Wright worked with social agencies and has developed and implemented juvenile diversion programs in more than 20 Wisconsin counties and has expanded his work into other states and countries. His company is committed to providing youth with second chance opportunities through educational programs diverting them away from the juvenile justice system.
UWO criminal justice faculty have assessed the programs to provide feedback and data to be used for professional conferences and in publications.
Professor David Jones said largely because of Wright’s work on combatting sexting behavior, he was awarded the Midwest Criminal Justice Practitioner’s Award in fall 2021; and a Leadership and Innovation Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in 2022 for his significant impact and commitment to improve the criminal justice system.
Professor Victoria Beck said Wright’s juvenile diversion programs demonstrate a positive and innovative impact locally and nationally.
Wright said he is proud of getting to work collaboratively with the UWO criminal justice department.
“I can honestly say I am still learning, growing and getting to achieve so much because of the team and being connected to (Matt Richie, David Jones and Victoria Beck). They are all so incredible.”
Jones was one of his first professors and Wright said his classes “had a huge impact” on him and helped guide him to be part of the Criminal Justice Association. He was president his senior year and grew the club to more than 50 members.
Wright has been a member of numerous committees, boards and groups, including a social media task force, human trafficking coalition and parents against vaping group.
“Over the years there have been so many things I’ve been asked to be on or a part of and I’ve always said ‘yes’ and helped in any way I could,” he said, noting he continues to raise funds for an area program that provides home healthcare. Last year, he did a 22-mile hike benefitting Make-A-Wish.
Wright lists scuba diving, playing rugby, traveling and running as just a few of his passions away from work. He said he loves having the opportunity to explore, learn and discover new things and connecting with people and learning from them.
He gives a lot of credit for his success to UWO.
“I can say without hesitation that my entire UWO experience guided, shaped and molded me into the person I am and has helped to contribute to who I am and my success.”
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