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.
Growing up in small-town Wisconsin, Jeni (Kimmet) Asaba dreamt of one day becoming a news reporter in New York City. While that dream became reality just a year after earning her journalism degree in 2006, in the time since she’s become so much more.
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh grad, now settled in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, made a career pivot and has become an award-winning community manager for a Twin Cities tech company and founded two nonprofits to help people in her community.
Asaba has earned a Distinguished Alumni Award from her alma mater and is one of seven alumni who’ll be recognized with this award for their professional accomplishments by the UWO Alumni Association at Homecoming later this month.
Cynthia Williamson, senior vice president of product management at Jamf, the Minneapolis-based tech company Asaba has worked for since 2016, put together a collection of words to describe her colleague: visionary, inspiring, dedicated, selfless and leader.
“She is definitely in a class all of her own,” Williamson said.
Asaba, who’s climbed the ranks after starting as a copywriter, is now senior manager in community engagement and advocacy for the company that provides device management and security solutions for organizations that use Apple products. She built a team responsible for Jamf Nation, the world’s largest online IT administrator community, and an award-winning customer advocacy program called Jamf Heroes.
Her path to Jamf was windy. After leaving UWO, she moved to New York City in hopes of finding a job as a reporter, but was first hired as to manage an internship program and Bronx Community College for the nonprofit New York Public Interest Research Group. She made connections and was hired by the Bronx Times Reporter—her first journalism job since working as a reporter in West Salem, Wisconsin.
“Working as a reporter in New York was truly a dream come true,” she said. “I covered town hall meetings, political races, murders and everything in between. … It was the opportunity of a lifetime and one I’ll cherish forever.”
By the end of 2008, she realized she wanted to return home to the Midwest. With the economic downturn around that time, she struggled for a time to find work, eventually landing an administrative assistant role with a medical technology company outside Minneapolis. She worked hard, eventually becoming the organization’s first copywriter. Next came a job as a marketing communications specialist for Minnesota’s largest healthcare system.
Then in 2016, she found Jamf. “It was a mid-sized technology company in Minneapolis that needed a copywriter with a background in healthcare,” she remembered. Since first coming on as a copywriter on the marketing team, she’s worn several titles and been recognized as a community manager of the year, among a handful of other honors.
Beyond her professional successes, Asaba has launched two nonprofits. Project Prom began in 2007 when she was in New York as a way to make prom more accessible for local students. She later brought the nonprofit with her to Minnesota and has expanded to several communities around the state. Project Prom has now given away more than 3,000 prom dresses to girls in need.
She also created Building for Bridget, a nonprofit venture helping children in Uganda, her husband’s home country. The work led to the creation of a school that serves 250 children and employs 30 adults. The school was years in the making and represents yet another dream come true for her—and her husband.
“To see it come true—to hear children’s laughter throughout the campus—is a testament that with faith and a lot of hard work, anything is possible,” she said.
In both her career and nonprofit work, Asaba has accomplished goals sometimes set many years prior. It’s been a recurring theme throughout her life. So it’s no surprise then, that as a middle school student, she traveled from La Crosse to UW Oshkosh to participate in a science competition and, with the University leaving an impression on her, decided as an eighth grader she wanted to attend UWO.
“The culmination of academic and non-academic learnings I received at UWO were, arguably, unmatched. Though a little nervous, upon graduation I felt fully prepared to take on the world and accomplish my dreams,” she said. “I’m so grateful to everyone at UWO who helped me realize my potential and gain the confidence to use my talent in a variety of meaningful ways throughout my career.”
The 2023 Alumni Awards Celebration will be held Oct. 27 at the Culver Family Welcome Center, with a reception at 5 p.m. followed by the dinner and program beginning at 6 p.m. The cost of the event is $40 per person. For more information, contact UWO’s Alumni Relations Office at (920) 424-3449 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register for the Alumni Awards Celebration here.
- UWO journalism grad, now working ‘dream job’ at Meta, earns Outstanding Young Alumni Award
- Jeffery Gerritt earns Distinguished Alumni Award for outstanding career in journalism
- 11 alumni to be honored for their accomplishments at Alumni Awards Celebration
- ‘An exciting time to be in our space’: Now called AMP, UWO journalism department undergoes rebranding