A Lifetime of Learning

Bob Warnke-blogThis week I saw an interview between George W. Bush who was talking about his father George H.W. Bush. Diane Sawyer of ABC News conducted the interview. Ms. Sawyer asked the question, “How is your father doing?” George W. said that he was doing very well, and the reason is that he never loses interest in life. He constantly wants to keep learning at the age of 88, and George W. said that is the reason George H.W. is still active and doing well.

You know what? I totally agree with George W., and that is the reason why I decided to get a degree from UW Oshkosh. It has been a long road five years, and several surgeries later I will be walking down the aisle at Kolf Sports Center on May 11,2013,

There’s another part of this that’s worth mentioning–I really did not have to do this. You see, I will be 71 years old in November. I have worked all my life and I am still very active in local politics, namely the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors District 21 for the last 11 years, and I still maintain a Real Estate License and other things. That keeps me busy, (including my 3 grandchildren). My point is you have got to keep active after you decide to call it quits on your day job. I wanted to learn so I decided to go back to college and get that degree.

I think that in my mind I had no idea of how hard this mission would be to accomplish. I was thinking along the lines of maybe doing a few papers and they would give me that degree. Wrong! I really did not think that there were so many hoops that I had to jump through in order to complete all the requirements. If I am scaring you and making you think about your decision of going back to school; please read on because it does get better.

I cannot tell you of the wonderful world that UWO has opened up for me. I have learned so much in the last five years and I have met so many wonderful people, professors, teachers, advisors, liberians, the Learning Center, the Writing Center, and last but not least several students who could be by grandchildren. Do you know what? They treated me just like another student. Most of all they had no reservations about helping me and several went above and beyond to help me get over the humps to figure out how to do something. The same goes for the professors, teachers, my wife and children who would work with me when I had a problem.

I do not want to start naming specific individuals because I feel like I may miss someone. But I do want to mention the advisors. They can be one of your biggest assets, and I definitely suggest you get to know them because they can guide you through the maze of completing all your requirements. These people are there to help you so my advice is to use the resources. Speaking of resources , UWO has a wonderful library and some of the nicest reference librarians you would ever meet. If you need help getting sources for a paper they are there for you. My point being is this: If you have made the decision to go back to UW Oshkosh, I can attest to the fact that you have made the right decision. My advice is “just do it.” You will not regret it. I have seen many adult students achieving their goals through the degree programs.

I would like to close my last blog by saying “THANK YOU” to everyone who has helped me at UW Oshkosh and to those of you who are thinking of starting school. Don’t be afraid, you can do it! I did it, and I proved to my three kids who all graduated from UW-Madison that the “OLD MAN CAN DO IT TOO”! Don’t ever stop learning. Stay cool and Good Luck.

Bob Warnke, 71, is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Organizational Administration and Leadership student from Oshkosh, Wis. Warnke wanted to go back to college to fulfill one of his goals, and to show his three children he could do it too. Warnke is also a Winnebago County Board member.

Doing an online class well

Katherine Chase CarstensOnline classes may seem more convenient than on-campus classes that require weekly attendance, but online classes may actually be more work than face-to-face classes. The online classes offered by UW Oshkosh’s Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement (LLCE, formerly known as CNL) are asynchronous—you’re not required to be in the class from, say, 6-9 p.m. on Monday nights—but they do have weekly assignments due on certain days of the week.

Students need to be prepared for their online classes by first learning the online technology. If you are comfortable navigating in the online course, you can spend your time learning and discussing in the class instead of wrestling with unfamiliar technology. LLCE has provided video tutorials to show you how to use Desire2Learn (D2L), UW Oshkosh’s online learning platform. Your academic adviser should also have enrolled you in the online student orientation, which allows you to practice posting to a discussion and uploading a document to the dropbox. This free class should show up in your D2L when you log in.

Once you’re comfortable with the technology, prepare for the class by getting your book well in advance of the course opening. Start reading ahead so you can be thinking about the subjects and forming your own thoughts and opinions. Read all the documents in the Content section of your course so you’re fully aware of what’s required and when things are due.

The online class room really develops as students engage in the discussion forum. Students who go into the discussion early and often will find their interest piqued as they read and respond to their classmate’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions. In a classroom setting discussion, usually the most outgoing talkers dominate the conversation, and other people can stay quiet and not say what they really think. In an online classroom, each person is forced to formulate his or her own opinions and to articulate them to others. Often, less-outgoing students who might not speak in a face-to-face classroom setting will express profound and thoughtful ideas. Reading all your classmates’ postings gives a “voice” to every student so that you can read and consider everyone’s ideas, and learn from them.

Being open to new subjects in the online classroom brings a surprising amount of involvement to your reading and discussing. Students who “stir up” their interest in new subjects will find themselves engaged by the new thoughts and ideas they have, and will be more open to considering and learning from others’ ideas.

Remember, writing in both the online discussion forums and for papers needs to be at a professional level. You should consider that you are writing to your boss or to a prospective client. Everything needs to be spelled properly with correct grammar and punctuation. Seek help from the Writing Center with their online tutoring options if you need it.

Katherine Chase Carstens is an academic adviser for the Division of Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement. Katherine understands the online learning environment well, as she has earned  two degrees by taking some online classes and she teaches online. Specifically, Katherine works with prospective students who have a technical college degree. 

Cancer: Overcoming the Biggest Obstacle of My Life

Tim ThiedeBack in 2008 when I decided to return to college at UW Oshkosh, I knew it would not be an easy task. While pursuing my dream of earning a college degree in Radio/TV/Film I have come upon many obstacles. Despite the size of the obstacles, I have been able to overcome them. As each month passed I felt like the road to achieving my dream was actually becoming a smooth one. I felt there was nothing that could ever get in my way until January 11, 2011 arrived. That was the day I decided to go to the emergency room, at Aurora Health Care, after experiencing abdominal pains. The diagnosis was appendicitis, and I required immediate surgery.

About a week after being released from the hospital my doctor called me and said that after examining the removed appendix a cancerous tumor was discovered. Since the right colon is attached to the appendix it had to be removed in case there was cancer in that region. After the surgery I found out, from the doctor, that the tumor came close to exploding which would have spread throughout my body. That is when the severity of appendix cancer was realized and emotions of fear, greater than before, began to emerge. With appendix cancer being so rare and a sixty percent chance of it returning made the future of my college education, along with how long I may be around, uncertain.

Despite the cancer and the negative side effects that would occur from chemotherapy I decided to continue pursuing my dream. It was so difficult both physically and emotionally that many nights I would be alone in my room with tears in my eyes and being scared from wondering if I will wake up alive the next day. What helped me make it through this troubling time was the support of my wonderful family along with support from friends on campus and back home.

Now it is time to fast forward to present day. After six months of long, tiring, chemo treatments and great care from the staff at the Vince Lombardi Cancer Center, I am proud to say two plus years later that I am cancer free. Despite the struggles I endured during that time I still attended classes and even had a summer internship at WRCO Radio in Richland Center. By continuing to pursue my dream I am now only 3 weeks away from achieving it.

I am sure many of you will endure some type of great obstacle while trying to pursue your dream. Despite how large it is don’t give up and continue trying to achieve it. Once you achieve it you also will have the same joy and pride that I do. The joy and pride that proves no obstacle is too great to overcome when you have that desire to achieve your dream.

Tim Thiede is a Radio/TV/Film major with a minor in journalism. Thiede is from Richland Center, Wis. and is graduating in May 2013. He lives on campus, and is the development director for UW Oshkosh’s radio station, WRST-FM.

What Does Graduation Mean To Me?

Gordana OehmenGraduation is only few weeks away, and I am getting excited.  I will finally graduate with my degree in Liberal Studies with a Leadership Development major.  It has been a long road that at times, was rather difficult. Yet, here I am. I have made through the American college. I survived all those late night study sessions and final exams.

The most significant thing that graduation means to me is that I learned a lot about myself.  When I immigrated to the U.S., I went through an extreme identity change.  I was separated from my old way of life, my family, my friends, and my city. I lost the country where I grew up, went to school and lived forty five years of my life. I lost a social status, personal identity, and ability to operate effectively in the environment.  The transition was painful, but enrolling at UW Oshkosh helped me understand those pains and opened the door for my transition.  Throughout my educational journey I discovered that I formed a new identity, new values and new attitudes. I was able to overcome painful obstacles of transition, find peace with myself and resettle comfortably in my new country.

As a nontraditional student in my late fifties, I did not have any expectations prior to my courses.  I simply wanted to get over them and get my B.A. as quickly as possible.  I did not anticipate that I would, to my surprise, like some classes, and that those classes will affect my personal and intellectual growth. My educational journey at UWO has shown me that I, indeed, have what it takes to pursue my dreams and achieve my goals.

But graduation also means no more online classes, discussions on D2L, papers, and reading boring books; no more late nights; no more balancing between assigned readings, family, and work.  No more “wire walking.”

When I walk in the 139th Commencement of the University of Oshkosh on May I will hold my head high because I did something great.

I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.  ~Author Unknown

Gordana Oehmen is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Leadership Development student from Oshkosh, Wis. Oehmen is originally from Belgrade, Serbia, and came to the United States in 1999. Oehmen also earned three credits for her prior learning in project planning, and six credits in foreign language.

Time Management Advice

Rebecca JenkinsonI believe the key to time management is preparation and organization. Taking that first week before your course begins to read over the syllabus and any assignments that are already posted will help you tremendously. If any of the assignments are posted, such as reading, you can really get a headstart on the course, which can alleviate any feelings of “being behind.” Seven week courses are really condenced and often there can be a great amount of reading that is due weekly, so getting ahead can reduce any anxiety.

Find a schedule that works for you. When you do your best work? Or what time do you have available? Set small goals. I found that doing more throughout the week keeps me on track, like if I were to read one of out three chapters the first day of that week – then I would do one discussion posting that is relevant to the reading. Some weeks may be busier than others, planning accordingly at the start of each week so you know how to compensate for lack of study time on those days.

The constant theme in my courses have been Sunday is the last day of the week where assignments are due. Knowing this every Sunday night before bed, I wipe off my dry erase board of past assignments and write the new assignments for the next week. Monday mornings I start fresh, look at my dry erase board and I feel prepared and ready to get started! I can not stress it enough, organization!!

Rebecca Jenkinson, 31, is a Bachelor’s of Applied Studies in Leadership and Organizational Studies student from Berlin, Wis. Jenkinson was inspired to go back to college in 2011 by her desire to work in human resources, and she said she also hopes to be a role model for her four children.


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