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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Business has established a scholarship in memory of alumna Katie Buchert ’06, who became a Warrior in Pink after being diagnosed with breast cancer a swift six months after graduation.

College of Business (COB) Dean Barbara Rau said the scholarship will provide an opportunity to share Buchert’s story of strength and optimism to inspire students to face their challenges with a positive attitude and willingness to draw on the strength of others.

Dedicated student
A determined student, Buchert studied the German language throughout her entire educational path, starting at the Milwaukee German Immersion School, through middle school at Milwaukee School of Languages and finally at Homestead High School where she also was inducted into the National Honor Society.

Continuing at UW Oshkosh, Buchert channeled her love of helping people by proudly promoting COB as a brand ambassador and serving as president of the Society of Human Resources Management student organization. Buchert graduated with a bachelor’s in human resources and a minor in German in May 2006.

Passionate athlete

Throughout her lifetime, Buchert loved dance and bringing joy to those around her. From age 3 to 18, she performed German dance with the Milwaukee Donauschwaben, earning multiple titles.

Not surprising, Buchert’s joy couldn’t be contained with just dance and she quickly joined the high school cheerleading team where she learned stunts and was a flyer for the team. Buchert was awarded the prestigious Highlander Award in recognition of her honorable character and positive leadership on and off the field of competition. She continued cheering at the collegiate level at UW Oshkosh for one year.

Ultimately her passion to share dance with others led her to create the Danube Cultural Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, where she taught young adults traditional Danube dances, including polkas, waltzes, tangos and Austrian laendler. When doctors delivered news, she couldn’t dance anymore without hip replacement surgery, she continued to go to practices and bravely cheered from the sidelines.

Warrior in Pink

Buchert began her career as a human resource coordinator at U.S. Cellular in Waukesha and remained determined to live her life as normally as possible while undergoing four rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and then surgeries, including three craniotomies, mastectomies and reconstruction.

While losing her hair several times was emotionally devastating, she maintained her sense of humor. When a roller coaster ride ended too quickly for her to put her wig back on, she looked at the shocked children and quipped “Wow, that was some fast ride! Blew my hair right off my head.”

Buchert passed away on October 22, 2010. Her mother Mary Buchert said that cancer taught her daughter to live in the moment and appreciate all the good times much more.

“Cancer helped Katie find her voice. She believed that a positive attitude, sense of humanity and strong will can go a long way to living life to its fullest. She didn’t let doctors, diagnoses or roadblocks determine what she could and couldn’t achieve,” she said.

The future

Human Resources Department Chair Sarah DeArmond, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) student chapter united with Rau to make the Katie Buchert Human Resources Scholarship a reality.

To date, they have raised nearly $8,500 to benefit future undergraduate students looking to better the lives of others through sound human resource management. The first scholarship will be awarded in spring 2020.

Rau said that creating the scholarship has been a very personal goal for a long time. The intent is to ensure that Buchert’s legacy lives on to inspire others to infuse their caring and positive nature into their work.

“Katie brought sunshine to everything she did and, like many, I felt deep sadness for the battles she faced and grief when she passed. I am deeply touched by the generosity of our students, Katie’s parents and Dr. Sarah DeArmond for their roles in making this scholarship a reality,” Rau said.

SHRM students, DeArmond and Rau plan to solicit additional donations with the goal of reaching $10,000, which would endow the scholarship into perpetuity.

For questions, send an email to Nancy Jo Dietzen at dietzenn@uwosh.edu. Donations to the Katie Buchert Human Resource Management Scholarship are accepted online.