UW Oskhosh Wordmark

The following Class Notes were received recently in the UW Oshkosh Alumni Office.

’66 Elsie (Gretzinger) Wagoner (BSE), of Argonne, received the Crandon Bell Tower Memorial. She taught second grade in the Crandon School District from 1972 until 2002 when she retired.

’77 Carole (Gorz) Rajkovich (BME), of Brillion, is finishing her 40th and final year teaching music in Brillion.

’79 Thomas Zoch (BS), of Neenah, has been named vice president of Care Management- Clinical for Ascension Wisconsin.

’81 Kevin O’Brien (BS), of Sheboygan, wrote The Rogue Effect, which is now available for sale. His book focuses on the 2016 presidential election and provides a study of the two candidates who were underdogs.

’81 Tim McKeag (BBA) and ’83 (MBA), of Appleton, was hired by Great North Bank as market president for the Appleton area.

’82 Hugh Leasum (BS), of DePere, is both executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Appleton-based Mills Fleet Farm.

’82 Russ Weyers (BBA), of Mount Pleasant, is president and chief executive officer of the Kenosha-based Southport Bank.

’87 Jill (Quirk) Kellner (BS), of Appleton, is a licensing certification specialist for the State of Wisconsin. She is looking forward to her oldest son’s wedding in September.

’89 John LaFleur (BS), of Hartland, went on to get his master’s of educational administration degree from UW-Madison and his doctorate from Cardinal Stritch University. He also played professional football in Europe for two years and is the principal at Wilmot Union High School.

’89 Amy (Nash) Jeanty (BA), of Fond du Lac, has worked for UWO since 2004 and is currently the academic department associate for the sociology department.

’92 Robert Croeker (BS), of Kenosha, has been in law enforcement for more than 25 years and is an adjunct instructor at Gateway Technical College.

’92 Tina Grenlie (BBA), of Waupaca, is taking on a new role as financial representative with Thrivent Financial in Waupaca after working for WDUX Radio for 25 years.

’92 Heidi (Mathweg) Wallace (BSW), of Beaver Dam, is a medical social worker for Columbus Community Hospital. Her daughter will begin college at UWO this fall.

’93 Kimberly Kendall (BS), of Phoenix, Arizona, retired from Arizona PBS after 11 years as the station’s viewer services coordinator.

’95 Susan Prince (BSE), of Neenah, completed her master’s degree in education in 2015 and last summer taught elementary students with learning disabilities in the Appleton Area School District.
’97 Stephanie (Kusak) Golombowski (BSE) and ’08 (MSE), of Milwaukee, is the school counselor-guidance director at Vincent High School in the Milwaukee Public School District.

’98 Lisa (Weinshrott) Kimmel (BS), of Hoboken, New Jersey, has been designing lights for live entertainment, weddings, galas, theatre and more for the past 16 years. Her latest adventure took her to Turks and Caicos to the Beaches Resort, as well as Sun Valley, Idaho. This fall, she will design the grand opening of a new building at Ripon College.

’99 Erica (Lyndgaard) Breitrick (BA), of Milwaukee, creates magical experiences for customers with lights, sound and video as a multimedia specialist at Direct Supply.

’02 Jennifer Henselin (BSE) and ’07 (MS), of Tigerton, recently completed an add-on license of speech communication through UWO. She will be teaching speech communication in addition to the English and theater courses she presently teaches in the Oshkosh Area School District.

’02 Mike Mathy (BS), of Milwaukee, has earned the Certified Association Executive designation, granted by the American Society of Association Executives. He serves as the executive director for the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies and the National Vehicle Leasing Association.

’02 Brian Ross (BS), of Appleton, has been named head coach of the Neenah High School boys soccer program.

’04 Ben Priesgen (BS), of Whitewater, is a Lomira Village Board member and serves on the parks and IT committees. He is the owner of County Blossoms Organics LLC.

’04 Lara (Romportl) Kuchenbecker (BSE), of Neenah, is the new associate principal for Glenbrook Elementary School and the assistant Student Services director for the Pulaski Community School District.

’05 Stacey (Boehnlein) Tauber (BFA), of Menasha, works as a senior graphic designer at School Specialty in Greenville.

’06 Josh Murnane (BSE) and ’11 (MS), of Appleton, is the new activities director and associate principal for the Neenah Joint School District. He will oversee athletics and activities programs at Neenah High School and Shattuck Middle School.

’07 John Miller (BSE), of Red Wing, Minnesota, was selected as the new activities director for Prairie River Middle School and Merrill High School.

’08 Scott Hintz (BA), of Hudson, was named head of Sports Performance at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

’10 John Thorsen (BA), of Oshkosh, was ordained to the priesthood for the diocese of Green Bay in July at St. Mary Church in Ledgeview.

’11 Kassandra Marshall (BBA), of Deerbrook, is a recruiter for Church Mutual Insurance Company.

’12 Grant Larie (BS), of Allouez, married Denielle Adamski in May. He earned a doctor of chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic and is an associate doctor at Van Drisse Chiropractic in DePere

’12 Nathan Tornow (BS), of Fond du Lac, worked at General Beverage as a Red Bull representative for three years and received Salesperson of the Year. He is now in the Gallo sales/ marketing wine division

’13 Brian Urbanek (BA), of Milwaukee, started his own video production company, GoldWing Productions LLC. He primarily uses video to tell the stories of nonprofits for fundraising and promotional purposes and has filmed in places like Mexico, Nepal and Peru.

’14 Lucas Suthers (BSN), of Monroe, is finishing his master’s degree in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program in August at Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

’15 Thomas Wollin (BS), of Madison, graduated from the federal Law Enforcement Academy in New Mexico and has been assigned as a border patrol agent in Arizona.

’16 Krystin Bartelt (BA), of Jefferson, graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

’16 Will Fath (BS), of Rhinelander, is interning in Washington D.C. as a policy intern for the U.S. Senate Committee on natural resources. In fall, he will return to Louisiana State University to finish a master’s degree in public administration.

’16 Jordan Scherwinski (AS), of Barron, is in the Radiologic Technology Program at Theda Clark School of Radiologic Technology. She will receive her bachelor’s degree in radiologic science from UWO in May 2018.

’17 Caitlin Cobb (BA) (BFA), of Oshkosh, is applying to teach English in South Korea.

’17 Nicole Feavel (BA) (BBA), of Fond du Lac, has been hired as Green Lake County’s new human resources coordinator.

’17 Mallory Langkau (BSE), of Oshkosh, accepted her first teaching position in Park Falls. She will be teaching high school social studies in the Chequamegon School District.


• AAS — Associate of Arts and Science Degree
• B — Business
• EHS — Education and Human Services
• LLCE  — Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement
• LS — Letters and Science
• N — Nursing

• DNP — Doctor of Nursing Practice
• GMBA — Global Master of Business Administration
• MA — Master of Arts
• MBA— Master of Business Administration
• MPA — Master of Public Administration
• MS — Master of Science
• MSE — Master of Science in Education
• MSN — Master of Science in Nursing
• MST — Master of Science in Teaching
• MSW — Master of Social Work

Send items for future Class Notes.

The UW Oshkosh Alumni Relations Office has received the following death notices:

Kathleen (Artz) Knorr (EHS) ’48, Shiocton, July 11, 2017

Robert Rosenberg (EHS) ’53, Ripon, July 11, 2017
James Whalen (EHS) ’55, Randolph, June 15, 2017

Thomas Bloomingdale (EHS) ’65, Cedarburg, June 29, 2017
Melvin Dirks (EHS) ’63, Plymouth, June 27, 2017
Michael French (EHS) ’63, Fond du Lac, July 12, 2017
Milton Pelisek (EHS) ’62, New Berlin, July 5, 2017
Joan Peterson (EHS) ’63, Egg Harbor, June 23, 2017
Robert Roels (EHS) ’69, Oshkosh, July 8, 2017

John Drew (LS) ’74, Eau Claire, July 7, 2017
Gary Kostichka (BBA) ’76, Racine, June 26, 2017
Francis Walsh (LS) ’70, Lyndon Station, July 3, 2017

Diane Conrad (EHS) ’86, Glendale, July 5, 2017
Jim Murphy (MSE) ’82, Wausau, July 5, 2017
Gerry Rybicke (MSE) ’89, Fort Atkinson, July 9, 2017

Mary Vandermuss (LS) ’97, Green Bay, July 2, 2017

Erin March (LS) ’03, Reedsburg, June 30, 2017
Andrea Shay (LS) ’05, Appleton, July 4, 2017

• AAS — Associate of Arts and Science Degree
• B — Business
• EHS — Education and Human Services
• LLCE  — Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement
• LS — Letters and Science
• N — Nursing

• DNP — Doctorate of Nursing Practice
• GMBA — Global Master of Business Administration
• MA — Master of Arts
• MBA— Master of Business Administration
• MPA — Master of Public Administration
• MS — Master of Science
• MSE — Master of Science in Education
• MSN — Master of Science in Nursing
• MST — Master of Science in Teaching
• MSW — Master of Social Work

If you know of a classmate, family member or other UW Oshkosh friend who has passed away, email alumni@uwosh.edu or call the Alumni Relations Office at (877) UWO-ALUM or (920) 424-3449.

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh graduating senior Katrina Schiedemeyer, of Oshkosh, worked with associate professor of supply chain management Mike Godfrey to apply lean concepts to the education system. She presented her research at the UW System’s 14th-annual Research in the Rotunda during the spring semester 2017.


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WOSH, July 19

Two University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumni excelling in entertainment and creative careers are among select former students to be honored by the university.

Brenda Lee Lau will receive a Distinguished Alumni Award and Tony Memmel an Outstanding Young Alumni Award at the Alumni Awards Celebration in October.

“Terrific advocate” for RTF
Lau, a 1983 graduate of the radio TV film program, resides in Venice, California, where she is a creative director, senior writer and producer for ABC Entertainment.

Lau has successfully marketed How To Get Away With Murder, Once Upon A Time, Revenge, Desperate Housewives, Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers and Sisters, Lost, NYPD Blue, The Practice, Dancing With The Stars, The Academy Awards, the American Music Awards and many other shows. Her work has garnered numerous industry awards.


In nominating Lau for the Distinguished Alumni Award, RTF Professor Douglas Heil said Lau should be commended for her commitment to helping students through scholarships, internships and informal mentoring. He pointed to her statement about being most proud of having a creative career and helping others who wish to pursue that path.

“These aren’t just words. Brenda has cleared that path for many–including UW Oshkosh graduates,” he said.

Elizabeth Semenas ’14, credited Lau with inspiring her to start a career in television. And when a position opened at ABC, Lau recommended Semenas based on their time working together.

“Now I get to see Brenda’s hard work and creativity on a daily basis, and I often think back to the time I first heard her speak at UWO. As an undergrad, my dream to work in TV felt distant, but Brenda’s confidence and can-do attitude reassured me to have faith.”

Semenas said Lau has a long list of UWO students and alumni who she is willing to guide and offer advice to.

“It always amazes me that Brenda has any spare time at all. She creative directs million dollar campaigns that can been seen all over the world, works countless hours on her own projects and maintains a family and close friends.”

Justine Stokes, RTF television services director at UW Oshkosh, explained how Lau helps create an incredible career opportunity for UW Oshkosh students who take part in the Los Angeles Connection–a course that brings UW Oshkosh students to LA to meet with industry professionals.

Stokes said Lau makes sure current RTF students are given the same, career-changing opportunities she was given.

“Brenda is a highly respected professional who is always busy working on the latest Oscar campaign or producing an independent film, but she never forgets about Oshkosh,” Stokes said.

Inspiring musician
Memmel, a Waukesha native who graduated in 2008 with a music business degree, resides in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is a singer-songwriter, speaker, clinician and composer with Tony Memmel Music.

Born without a left forearm and hand, Memmel taught himself an adaptive music method and became an ambassador for the nonprofit “Lucky Fin Project” that supports children with hand- and limb-differences.

Memmel teaches children with physical, emotional and cognitive differences and disabilities how to play the guitar. He was commissioned in 2014 and 2017 by the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra to compose symphonies of original music to be performed by orchestra, chorus, and soloist(s).

Nominator Barbara Anne Brandt said Memmel taught himself to play the guitar by building a homemade cast out of duct tape that secured a guitar pick to his arm, allowing him to pluck and strum the strings.

“Since his graduation from UW Oshkosh, Tony has amassed a number of noteworthy accomplishments and experiences,” Brandt said.

She noted he was selected by the American Music Abroad Program to tour Brazil, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay in cooperation with the U.S. State Department, embassies and consulates overseas. The tour included visits to schools, orphanages, hospitals and performances in historic concert venues with an aim to build cultural bridges through music.

Other accomplishments include national finalist in the “You Oughta Know–Make a Band Famous Competition;  invited speaker to a crowd of 35,000 during the ELCA Lutheran National Youth Gathering at the Superdome; and release of four full-length albums and two Eps.

Memmel also earned a spot on the Nashville Songwriters Association Top 40 and was named WAMI Singer-Songwriter of the Year.  As a musician, he has toured in 45 U.S. states and 10 countries worldwide.

Brandt, a resident of Connecticut, handles artist relations for Tony Memmel Music. She has a strong connection with Memmel, who mentors her son–born without fingers on his left hand.

“It’s really important what he does for us as parents and for the kids,” she said.

Marc Thayer, executive director of Symphony NH, said he has observed Memmel’s passion for music education and equal opportunity in the arts.

“He does more with one arm than most people accomplish with two,” Thayer said.

Memmel said his goal is to use his ability and training in music for the benefit of others and the betterment of the world. His limb difference gives him a unique opportunity to connect with people as a professional guitarist and to encourage people to pursue their own goals with passion and perseverance.

“He uses his limb difference as an opportunity to connect with his students to teach them to be creative and resourceful, and to believe that there is nothing they cannot do,” said Molly Stapelman, founder of the Lucky Fin Project. “They just may need to do it a bit differently than most other people.”

Stapelman said Memmel is a “man who can do anything and inspires others to do the same.”

Lau and Memmel will be among those honored at UWO’s Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, Oct. 6, at the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center. The cost is $30 per person and includes dinner. For more information or to RSVP for the event, please call (920) 424-3449 or send an email to alumni@uwosh.edu.

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Northeast Wisconsin is experiencing a rapidly increasing skills gap in two high-demand industries: manufacturing and automotive.

The root causes of this complex problem include the rise of technology, lack of qualified K-12 technical education teachers and training equipment, and the dwindling interest of youth in manufacturing and automotive occupations.

The 2017 Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance vitality report revealed that 80 percent of companies experienced difficulty finding talent: a significant increase from 29 percent in 2011. Per the index, the most difficult-to-fill positions are machinists and CNC machinists, followed closely by welders, engineers and electro-mechanical technicians.

Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) is looking to turn this trend around by partnering with industry employers, area K-12 schools and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh to implement an innovative, multifaceted career pathways project. This project is designed as a fast-track to employment while reducing student costs and increasing the number of students entering career pathways. The initiative is projected to serve approximately 1,790 students through a $797,000+ Career Pathways grant from the Wisconsin Technical College System.

UW Oshkosh’s College of Education and Human Services professor Michael Beeth will serve as the principal investigator on the grant and will work with associate dean Andrew Rinke of FVTC to develop the technical education licensure program to offer teachers the opportunity to become credentialed instructors. The goal is to accept undergraduate students into this licensure program as early as fall 2018. For those currently working in a technical field and looking to get into teaching, UW Oshkosh’s alternative career program (act!) can provide an alternative path to this technical education licensure that is flexible, fast and convenient. Individuals best suited for the act! program have an undergraduate degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics–also known as STEM related fields.

There have been approximately 50 postings for technical education teachers throughout the state over the past three years. Many of these positions remain posted after the start of each school year (38 at the start of the 2016-17 school year). Unfulfilled positions force schools to decide how to keep programs alive for students. This often results in: filling the vacancy with a less qualified teacher, overloading the current technical education teachers in that district with more classes, and in the worst case abandoning the program. Each district is different in the way they handle it. One thing all schools have in common is that the need to prepare technically skilled workers in Wisconsin is at an all-time high.

“UW Oshkosh looks forward to developing and gaining University approval for the technical education licensure. We understand this is a key step to engaging new K-12 teachers in this field and is critical for addressing the current skills gap,” Beeth said.

“Fox Valley Technical College is looking forward to enhancing our already great partnership with UW Oshkosh by developing this technical education licensure pathway for students. We are committed to growing our relationships with all of our local high schools and the university and expect to have a program proposal ready for consideration within the next academic year,” Rinke said.

The enhanced access to the manufacturing and automotive career pathways will not only provide increased learning opportunities for students it will lead to filling vacant positions in our area.

“Our industry is predicting a serious technician shortage that is already being experienced. We currently need at least 15 highly skilled and qualified technicians and would expect 15-20 technicians per year for many years to come,” John Hogerty, executive vice president of Bergstrom Automotive, said.

The Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance has 190 members throughout 18 counties in northeast Wisconsin. Thirty-seven percent of the members employ the manufacturing workforce of the region. Ann Franz, director of NEW Manufacturing Alliance, speaks to the importance of the FVTC career pathways initiative.

“We are committed to assisting the FVTC, UW Oshkosh and area partners in the development of these high demand occupation career pathways for students. By enhancing the educational opportunities, our area will be better prepared to meet our industry needs for years to come,” Franz said.


Additional facets of the Career Pathways grant include:

  • Increasing dual credit offerings in at least 10 area high schools.
  • Purchasing six additional augmented reality arc welding simulators to assist K-12 technical education teachers with instruction to students.
  • Increasing student dual enrollments by creating a lean and streamlined website portal that is easy and convenient for K-12 and FVTC faculty to navigate.
  • Developing and facilitating multiple career exploration events for middle-high school students. Events will include K-12 science innovation fair, career fairs, annual manufacturing expo, summer camps, skills USA events and competition projects.
  • Assisting high schools in developing apprenticeships by connecting youth to area business and the Automotive Youth Education System.


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The Northwestern, July 19

NBC 26, July 19