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Tim Thiede

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Six years ago nontraditional student Tim Thiede was coming home at night feeling unsatisfied with his factory job. He felt he had more potential, and he knew that there were bigger and better opportunities waiting for him. That’s when his urge to attend school, combined with rumor that his employer might build another plant, pushed Thiede to go back to college.

After graduating high school in 1983, Thiede worked a variety of jobs. He started at a Country Kitchen as a cook, moved on to bartending and ended up working in a factory. 

He then went back to school, starting at UW-Richland for a semester before coming to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

“I always wanted to go into broadcasting, and I just got to thinking I was at a point in my life where I wanted to go back to school,” Thiede said. “Even though I was making $14 an hour, it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life.”

Thiede, who hopes to work his way into a national radio station, said the radio/TV/film major at UW Oshkosh is well respected and is gaining recognition. He credits his professors with making him feel comfortable and accepted at UW Oshkosh.

“The professors here have been great — they work with the students really well,” Thiede said. “When you go on the air, they let you do your thing and give you a lot of positive feedback.”

Thiede’s biggest obstacle in completing his degree was being diagnosed with cancer in January 2011. His surgeries and chemotherapy treatments didn’t stop him from continuing his education through online classes.

"I figure if you let cancer overtake you and change your mind on what you want to do, you are going to lose,” Thiede said. “I didn’t want to lose—I wanted to win. My desire to beat it and staying involved with school helped me keep my mind off the cancer.”

A week before the Fall 2011 semester started, Thiede’s CAT scan came back clean. He credits his successful fight against cancer to the support he received from his family and friends in his hometown of Richland Center, Wis. Thiede said he is also thankful for the support he received from his friends at the UW Oshkosh radio station, WRST, in the radio/TV/film department and Residence Life departments, as Thiede also lives and works on-campus.

“They do having housing available on-campus for nontraditional students and upperclassmen, so you have that support system from other nontraditional students too,” Thiede said.

Although going back to school was an easy decision for Thiede, he said it’s not for everyone. 

“You’ve got to want to do it — I think it’s all attitude that helps you succeed,” Thiede said. 

As a nontraditional student, Thiede said he has always felt accepted and treated equally by his professors and other students.

“You do have your obstacles as a nontraditional student, just don’t give up on it,” Thiede said. “You might have your bad days, but it’s a great experience.”

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