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Sajdak_StillAlumnus Ben Sajdak ’13, of Winneconne, came to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with two main interests—writing and science. With the help of biology professor Dana Merriman, Sajdak carried both passions on with him to graduate school.

Sajdak was curious about the neurosciences and how people think.

“It seems so little is understood about how we understand,” he said. “My interests stemmed from wondering how something as simple as thinking happens. It turns how it’s not simple at all.”

Sajdak joined the McNair Scholars Program and received aid for research under Merriman to study the damage responses of ground squirrels’ visual system. Merriman not only introduced him to research, but also to wet lab techniques and fundamental communication skills for writing and presentations.

“Merriman trains her students to be as prepared as possible for the future, and adjusts that training depending on the aspirations of the student,” Sajdak said. “She didn’t just prepare me for what’s beyond UWO, she taught me how to become a scientist.”


The McNair Scholars Program provided Sajdak with the tools and guidance he would need to enter a doctoral program after UWO, even though he didn’t realize that he would want to continue his education after earning his bachelor’s degree.

He also attributed his success to the opportunities the biology program opened for him, explaining that his time at UWO was essential to where he is today at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“The program makes up for its small size with great people and great networking,” Sajdak said.

UWO offers facilities for work and play, such as study areas in Sage Hall and programs at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, which Sajdak said he put to good use. He remembers the flexible hours of Polk Library and the Writing Center.

“I used the Writing Center not only for my advice about my personal statement for the application to graduate school, but also for professional emails, which are essential to getting people’s attention,” Sajdak said.

Coming from a small town to a bigger city, Sajdak was at first afraid to talk to professors. He realized that making the effort to approach professors opens doors for careers.

“If you’re in a class that you enjoy, just talk to the professors and get to know them,” Sajdak said. “See what they’re working on and see if you can contribute or learn more about the subject. That drive and that motivation to learn more is what everybody is looking for, whether it’s an employer, a graduate program or a medical program.”

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

Etta (Hannemann) Safford (EHS) ’39, ’53, and ’56, Oshkosh, June 4, 2015

Patricia (Sparr) Muehrer (EHS) ’44, and ’46, Troy, Mich., Nov. 2014
Leonard Reinke, last year attended ’40, Oshkosh, June 3, 2015
Enid (Ulrich) Zimmerman (EHS) ’43, ’57 and ’60, Glen Carbon, Ill., June 18, 2015

Marilyn (Caljouw) Charles (EHS) ’60, Sheboygan, June 6, 2015
Sue (Lautenschlager) Edwards (LS) ’69 and (MSE) ’72, Alamogordo N.M., Feb 10, 2015
Richard Granger (EHS) ’66, Fond du Lac, June 5, 2015
Raymond Penzenstadler (EHS) ’69 and (MSE) ’79, Dunnellon, Fla., May 27, 2015

James Boorman (LS) ’72, Venice, Fla., June 1, 2015
Janet (Wedde) Breunig (N) ’76 and (MSN) ’82, Sauk City, June 11, 2015
Marie Calvey (MSE) ’78, Plymouth, June 21, 2015
Elliott Carr (LS) ’72, Athens, Ga., June 13, 2015
Janet Clewell (EHS) ’79 and (MSE) ’81, Surprise, Ariz., May 18, 2014
James Crombie (AS) ’77, Columbus, May 25, 2015
Margaret Ferris (MSE) ’74, Highland Park, Ill., Feb. 25, 2014
Diane (Dahlin) Johnson (LS) ’75, Boynton Beach, Fla., June 6, 2015
Kathleen Magana (N) ’72 and (MSN) ’88, Fond du Lac, June 5, 2015
John Polzin (EHS) ’75, Deerfield, June 7, 2015
John Raisanen (MBA) ’79, Suamico, June 18, 2015
Barbara (Driessen) Weber (EHS) ’70, Lodi, June 16, 2015
Charlotte Zerbe (MSE) ’75, Valentine, Neb., Nov. 24, 2014

Mary Horan (LS) ’84, Appleton, June 5, 2015

Former Faculty and Friends
Donald Jorgenson, professor Counselor Education, 1964-1987, died June 5, 2015


• 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 Linda Cotton in the Alumni Relations Office at (877) UWO-ALUM or (920) 424-3449.


As part of the Institute, participants take part in a “writing marathon,” where they write about what surrounds them. This year’s group took in the sites and sounds of people and families enjoying lunch and a live musician at Opera House Square, in downtown Oshkosh.

This week, 18 area teachers are on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus participating in an Invitational Summer Institute, hosted by the Fox Valley Writing Project (FVWP).

The Institute is funded by a grant from the National Writing Project (NWP) and aims to immerse teachers in personal and professional reading and writing, which furthers NWP’s mission: “teachers teaching teachers.”

“Even though technology is the future, it has to complement solid instruction in order to be effective in the classroom. The institute gives us an opportunity to use technology to fine tune instruction,” said Greg Kehring, FVWP technology liaison.

As school districts put a greater emphasis on literacy in all curricular areas and as students have increased access to technological tools as part of their classroom learning, it is important that teachers have an opportunity to implement a variety of technologies themselves to learn how to engage students and further enhance K-12 curriculum, Kehring said.

The three-credit collaborative graduate course is designed to connect participants’ experiences and expertise: writing authentically and participating in peer revision groups, demonstrating literacy lessons, designing inquiry projects, reflecting on practices, reading and discussing professional texts.

This year’s group includes teachers from Kewaskum, Menasha, Oshkosh, Kaukauna, Neenah, Appleton, Hortonville and UW Oshkosh.

“We are thrilled to have these outstanding educators with us for three weeks,” said Pat Scanlan, FVWP director and associate professor at UW Oshkosh. “We are confident that they will find both inspiration and excellence through the rigorous examination of their own teaching, as well as the many thoughtful and supportive opportunities they will have to grow as writers. We look forward to engaging these institute participants as FVWP leaders in the years to come!”

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

’63 Karen (Masuda) Thyne (EHS), of Eagle River, was inducted into the Northland Pines School District Alumni Hall of Fame. She had worked in the district as an elementary school educator for 38 years, received recognition with a Herb Kohl Fellowship Award and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

’71 Bob Luckey (EHS), of Chicago, Ill., and his wife, Cornelia “Ellie” Wydeven ’71 (EHS), have retired. Bob worked as an art director, designer and photographer for a variety of large international corporate firms for 42 years. Ellie was a continuing education coordinator for several medical schools in the Chicago area for 35 years.

’73 Mark Kasuboski (LS), of Berlin, served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years. He is the organist and music director for AU Saints Catholic Church in Berlin.

’78 Pamela Ford (LS), of Wauwatosa, earned a 2015 Independent Publisher Book Award for her 1840s-based historical fiction romance novel, To Ride a White Horse.

’82 Michael Casper (LS), of Fond du Lac, was presented with UW-Fond du Lac’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award. He currently works as a writer and editor of the Scene newspaper in the Fox Valley area. He also is a midday, on-air personality on The Great 98 radio station.

’82 Lynne Johnson (LS), of Oregon, was elected to the board of directors for Thrasher Opera House. She retired to Green Lake after nearly 24 years as a senior managing director of communications at the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

’85 Erin Murphy (N), of St. Paul, Minn., has been a representative of the Minnesota House of Representatives for almost nine years.

’85 Barbara Stucki (LS), of Oshkosh, started her Mary Kay business one year ago and is a Red Jacket Consultant.

’89 John LaFleur (LS), of Hartland, is the new principal of Wilmot Union High School. He previously served as an associate principal for 12 years in Muskego.

’91 Tiffany (Fox) Otte (EHS), of Sheboygan Falls, was inducted into the UW Oshkosh Hall of Fame. She works as the Sheboygan Falls High School track and field and cross country coach. She achieved All-America status four times, helping UWO to three NCAA Division III women’s track and field team championships from 1986 to 1990.

’91 Edward Schmocker (MBA), of Park Falls, is the manager for Winter Woods, a business that supplies natural, decorative products to businesses, craft shops, floral designers and big-name suppliers, like Target.

’92 Robert Croeker (LS), of Kenosha, is the new head of the Kenosha County jail. He will oversee a staff of 100 employees and an inmate population of 200.

’92 Jody (Ventura) Merenick (LS), of Sheboygan, is the first public relations manager for RCS Empowers, a nonprofit organization that empowers individuals with disabilities and special needs.

’94 Dean Vesperman (LS), of La Crosse, earned his doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Indiana University.

’97 Joel Haase (LS), of Appleton, joined Element Design in De Pere as an art director/designer.

’98 Deborah (Akers) Erdmann (EHS), of Oak Creek, was hired as the new director of curriculum and instruction for the Delavan-Darien School District.

’00 John Schaak (LS), of Hartland, works in Menomonee Falls as the president of Scion Dental. He lives with his wife, Jennifer (Schultz) Schaak ’00 (EHS), and their four children.

’01 Bonnie Baerwald (MPA), of Fond du Lac, was named president of Moraine Park Technical College.

’01 Ryan Mahloch (LS), of Kaukauna, started a Farmers Insurance Agency Office in Kaukauna after 11 years in the insurance industry.

’02 Nickolas DeMark (LS), of Plover, joined the Ministry Medical Group in the hospitalist department at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital in Stevens Point.

 ’02 Kathleen (Ropson) Mkwaya (LS), of Ripon, is working with her husband, Joseph Mkwaya, on improving life in his home village of Kiagata in the Musoma region of Tanzania. The couple met when Kathleen climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2012.

’03 Jayne (Steffek) Vosters (EHS), of Freedom, graduated with a master’s degree in European history from American Public University, and gave birth to her fourth child, a boy, and now has two girls and two boys.

’04 Steve Gartzke (LS), of Alogma, is the new owner of River Falls Spine and Wellness Center.

’04 DeAnne Priddis (LLCE), of Appleton, graduated with a doctorate in communication from UW-Milwaukee.

’04 Cole Ruby (LS), of Madison, received the Elks National Foundation Scholarship in 2001, and used it to complete his law degree at Madison after graduating from UW Oshkosh.

’05 Kevin Deering (EHS), of Fond du Lac, was hired as the associate principal and activities director at Grafton High School.

’08 Matthew Byczek (N), of Waunakee, is a clinical informatics nurse specialist at Meriter-UnityPoint Health in Madison.

 ’08 Blake Jung (LS), of New York, N.Y., launched a new app called Wasup App. It has 3,000 users and is growing daily.

’12 Jonathan Dudzinski (B), of Pickett, started his own firm, Lotnix LLC, with the help of faculty members from UW Oshkosh. Recently, he joined forces with Tom Harenburg of Carl M. Hennig Inc.

’12 Jennifer (Drewicz) Kyzer (LS), of Oshkosh, has been working for Great Northern Corp in the Rollguard division for almost two years.

’13 Ryan Burg (LLCE), of Sheboygan, was reelected to a second term for the Sheboygan Area School District Board of Education.

’15 Scott Bellile (LS), of New London, joined the Clintonville Tribune Gazette staff as a reporter.

’15 Anthony Snyder (MBA), of Appleton, was named change catalyst for Thrivent Financial. He is responsible for working with a network of change agents throughout the organization. He has been with Thrivent for six years.



• 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.

unnamedHectic days and weeks of managing, creating music and recording is the life of University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Ethan Barrette ’12.

Barrette currently works at Addiction Studios in Nashville, where he partners with talented artists and producers to create music.

His passion for recording technology started in high school when he bought his first electric guitar and started a band with his friends. He then would work with basic equipment to record their music.

“I already knew I wanted to start down a career path in music when I found out that I could study the technical aspect,” Barrette said.

Barrette started his education at the UW Oshkosh in fall 2008. He described himself as an eager freshman ready to study music and was immediately taken under the wing of Walter “Wally” Messner, who is retiring in July from UW Oshkosh’s recording technology program.

“Wally Messner was right there at the start,” Barrette said. “From the first class I had with him on my first day, I knew it was going to be fun and I would learn a lot from a man who is a well of information and wisdom.”

During his time at UW Oshkosh, the music program required Barrette to learn music theory, ear training and to take weekly lessons. His focus was on classical music and jazz guitar.

“I had considered other schools with a focus on the technical side, which didn’t require any music training,” Barrette said. “Looking back, I don’t think I’d have come as far as I have without it.”

Since graduation, Barrette has been working in Nashville. He started at QUAD Studios and eventually ended up at Addiction Studios, a private studio owned and operated by Journey keyboard/pianist Jonathan Cain and producer/engineer David Kalmusky.

Some recent projects he’s been working on have been for famous bands and musicians like The Fray, John Oates of Hall & Oates, Journey and Emerson Drive. He works on managing, engineering recording sessions, assisting other engineers and producers, and repairing and building gear.

Barrette advises students to never stop learning and to never be afraid to take leaps and try for something, even if you aren’t sure how.

“There’s so much information at our disposal,” Barrette said. “And some advice from a friend who has never failed me is to show up on time, work your butt off and don’t be a jerk.”

Messner has been an influence to Barrette, who describes Messner as kind, intelligent and fun. Barrette said he was the type of instructor who would answer questions at any time of day, and even call students to remind them of their exams.

“We had a lot of fun in our recording classes and made a ton of memories and lifelong friends,” Barrette said. “Wally was at the heart of that. He also has the coolest vintage car collection. I definitely wouldn’t be having all this fun in Nashville, if it weren’t for him.”

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sustainabilityThe University of Wisconsin Oshkosh was recently listed on BestColleges.com’s Greenest Universities list.

UW Oshkosh was ranked fifth–and the only university in Wisconsin–on the list of 39 higher education institutions, “something to celebrate,” said Brian Kermath, UW Oshkosh’s sustainability director.

“It is very nice to receive the accolade,” Kermath said. “And, as you’ll see, we’re in good company near the top of the list.”

UW Oshkosh earned a ranking of 72.92, while the number one university earned a ranking of 85.29. Rankings are defined by what is reported via the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), which is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure sustainability performance. Kermath said UW Oshkosh has been tracking via the STARS system for the past four years.


Kermath speaking at the recent “A Conversation on Sustainability” on the UW Oshkosh campus.

“All the different rankings really do affirm what we are doing on our campus,” Kermath said.

According to BestColleges.com, the list of 39 colleges and universities was generated using the STARS database; each institution recognized had previously earned a gold rating from STARS. In order to earn a gold rating, academic institutions must earn points for academics (curriculum and research), engagement (campus and community ), operations (air and climate, buildings, dining services, energy, grounds, purchasing, transportation, waste, water), and planning and administration ( coordination, planning and governance, diversity and affordability, well-being and work, investment).

UW Oshkosh is committed to progressively reducing its ecological footprint and fashioning a durable and better world through its academic mission. Innovations in sustainability are being integrated into all university functions and operations; actions involve reducing consumption and wastes, generating and purchasing renewable energy, curbing pollution, green building and purchasing, sustainable landscapes, and infusing sustainability into the curriculum, outreach and research.


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The Northwestern, June 26

Fox 11, June 26

The Northwestern, June 26

Paine Arts Center and Gardens

Paine Arts Center and Gardens–a historic estate that serves as a multi-faceted museum for learning and inspiration. Located in Oshkosh.

ArtsCore, a new partnership between the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the Paine Art Center and Gardens, provides arts integration professional development opportunities for pre-service and early career teachers, and will launch its pilot Colony at the Paine in August.

The pilot ArtsCore Colony at the Paine: Arts Integration through Storytelling, kicks off with a three-day retreat at the Paine Aug. 10 through 12.

Five to six teams, each consisting of three to four teachers each in their second to fifth year of teaching, will participate in programming designed to help develop an arts integrated curriculum and enhance their confidence to implement it at their schools.

The Colony consists of a three-day retreat, followed by three days in the fall semester and three days in the spring semester for nine days of professional development. Teachers in the Oshkosh Area School District may be eligible for professional development credits for their participation.

Wendy Strauch-Nelson“This year ArtsCore Colony at the Paine will revolve around the theme of storytelling and will help early career teachers use storytelling and the arts to enrich and inspire their teaching practices. Storytelling connects to every discipline, every culture, and every era and will provide a rich base on which participants will collaborate and build,” Wendy Strauch-Nelson, coordinator of ArtsCore, said.

The Colony also provides opportunities for participants to network and builds confidence in integrating the arts into curriculum.

“The ArtsCore Colony will offer new arts teachers support, enrichment, mentoring and networking,” Aaron Sherer, executive director of the Paine Art Center and Gardens, said. “The goal is to ensure that arts teachers offer exceptional arts instruction to their students, and that exceptional arts teachers keep teaching for years to come.”

The ArtsCore program, which consists of the Colony at the Paine, Teacher in Residency program and an on-campus component, is funded through a grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, and is free for participants.

“There is no cost for participants, and we will pay for substitute teachers for the six days during the school year that teachers will be participating in the ArtsCore Colony,” Strauch-Nelson said. “We even plan to provide financial aid for schools needing materials to implement the new arts integrated curriculum.”

As part of initial brainstorming for the grant, UWO invited arts teachers and leaders as well as community and school leaders from throughout the region to attend planning sessions, Sherer said.

“I attended all of the planning sessions representing the Paine and I am passionate about arts education,” Sherer said. “I had great arts teachers in my own education, and I was very excited about the potential for the Paine to help foster the success of new arts teachers.”

Teachers interested in participating in the ArtsCore Colony at the Paine should be early career teachers in their second to fifth year of teaching and interested in arts integration as a means of engaging and inspiring students across the curriculum. Teachers sign-up in groups of two to four teachers, and at least one of the team members must be an art or music teacher.

Contact Wendy Strauch-Nelson at strauchw@uwosh.edu or (920) 424-7063, or email ArtsCore@uwosh.edu for more information or to sign-up.

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