Ice water, closed den door, and Ebby

Bob Warnke Bob Warnke, 70, 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.

I would like to relate some of my experiences during the last five years of attending UW Oshkosh.

First of all the reason it took me five years is that I had to take some time off because my doctors had other plans which included eye surgery, three knee surgeries (two total replacements), one shoulder surgery (my sixth) and one cancer surgery.

My point is that you never, never give up!

Once you start this journey to get a degree you may be sidetracked, but do not let it get you down. In the last five years I have spent countless hours sitting in my den doing homework with the door closed, a big glass of ice water and Ebby, my great big Yellow Tom Cat at my side. Ebby followed me where ever I went.

Ebby Warnke

Ebby Warnke

I also have an office in the basement where I did a lot of reading, so Ebby followed me there and would sit on my desk next to me while I read. The last time I was in school was 45 years ago when I received an associate degree from the Oshkosh Technical Institute (now Fox Valley Technical College).

I want to help anyone who has gone back to school as a nontraditional student know that you can do it and get over the rough parts by putting in your time. You can do it by never giving up no matter what. There is help out there.
UW Oshkosh has excellent professors, advisers, tutors, the Writing Center and reference librarians to help you. All you have to do to get help is ask and you will get help.

I have had several teachers who would spend an hour or more each week just to help me understand the assignments. The one thing most nontraditional students have going for them is the option of Assessment for Prior Learning.

In this class, which is taught by Karen Bowen, you apply for credit that you learned in your experiences in your job. I have earned 12 credits towards my degree, and Karen Bowen will work very hard to help you get these credits applied toward your degree.

I also have to give a lot of credit to my wife, and my three kids for helping to get me over the rough parts of this journey—especially in the areas of how to manipulate a computer and D2L.

My kids are so good, and they know how to do things, but they have a hard time teaching me because they don’t have the time.

There is little doubt that going back to school is a big commitment and very time consuming, but I just want to encourage you to make that commitment and stick to it. I am retired from a full-time job, even though I am keeping pretty busy with my role on the Winnebago County Board, running a small resort, playing golf and keeping fish in the freezer, so I know it is an even greater task to raise a family, bring home the bacon and going for a degree all at the same time. But my advice is do not over do it with taking on too many credits. If it takes a little longer so be it! You can do it! And it will reap rewards for you in the end.

My only regret in this story is that I will not be able to have Ebby walk down the aisle with me at commencement on May 11. After 14 years Ebby died two weeks ago. Give your favorite pet a hug tonight and make sure they have ice water when they are with you.

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