Brett Kasper—in more ways than one—is not like “many people,” however. In fact, earlier this month, Kasper, who is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the quarterback for the UW Oshkosh Titans football team, elected to have a surgery. Kasper chose to donate his bone marrow after beginning the process to become a donor through the Be The Match organization last fall.
“The week of finals last semester I got a call from the organization telling me the great news that I was a perfect match,” Kasper said. “Let’s just say I was pretty happy. Very quickly, it became clear that with this, I could save a life.”
And so, Kasper moved forward with the process with Be The Match, which is a national nonprofit organization operated by the National Marrow Donor Program that manages the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. Be The Match is dedicated to “helping every patient get the life-saving transplant they need.” The organization provides research, innovative technologies, and patient support and education.
Before Kasper could become a true donor, there were more screenings and tests and eventually there was the information Kasper felt like he was long waiting for—his recipient, who is a young child with lymphoma. While the Be The Match organization does not share all details of the patient, Kasper is privy to some general information about the person on the other side, which speaks to his heart. Kasper someday is hopeful he’ll get to even meet the patient.
“When they start to tell you about the patient, the person, it makes it really real,” Kasper said.
“The ultimate goal is for everyone who joins the registry to be committed to donating to a patient in need if called as a match. Brett is a leading example of someone who understood right from the start what could be asked of him. His commitment gave this patient another chance,” said Kelli VanderWielen, community engagement representative at the Community Blood Center, which works with the national Be The Match organization. “That choice to move forward takes courage.”
At UW Oshkosh, Kasper’s teammates and coaches have been unbelievably supportive, he said.
“Brett is committed to Be The Match and we are extremely proud of his courage, selflessness and the commitment he’s made to help a family,” said UW Oshkosh Head Football Coach Pat Cerroni. “I am hopeful Brett’s experience will raise awareness to help Be The Match build their registry for future donors.”
VanderWielen said donations from young people, like Kasper, are so important. Recipients especially need marrow donors between the ages of 18 and 44, she said. The campus Be The Match student organization has done an incredible job of recruiting donors; Kasper wouldn’t be on the registry without the work of the student organization, she said.
“More than 90 percent of the time, physicians choose younger donors for transplants, which is why young and willing donors are so important,” VanderWielen said.
Kasper said the procedure itself was actually pretty simple. The days that followed were not too bad, either, he said; he compared his symptoms to that of a “sore back.”
“If the fear of pain is what keeps people from joining the registry, that should not be a worry at all,” he said. “I did not even have to stay overnight in the hospital.”
Now that the donation is complete, Kasper said he feels a sense of relief.
“I’m glad I went through with it,” he said. “It’s a sense of relief and a sense of accomplishment now that it’s over. I am hopeful this truly will help save a life.”
VanderWielen also feels a sense of pride now that Kasper’s donation is complete.
“Brett is truly a leader on and off the field. Brett’s commitment to the organization and the donation means hope for a patient, for someone who truly needs it,” she said. “To be where we are today—to have the quarterback of the Titans football team be the donor—that’s truly incredible and awesome.”
Another Be The Match drive will be held on the UW Oshkosh campus April 8 and 9. Kasper and VanderWielen encourage all to get swabbed and find out if they are a match, which could possibly lead to another life saved.
“We so blessed that we have been able to work with Coach Cerroni and Titans athletic teams to extend our reach and motivate such leaders to become a part of our registry—we are forever grateful and looking forward to the future,” VanderWielen said.
The Northwestern, Feb.
How can I avoid the “freshman 15?”
Have you ever heard of the “freshman 15?” Most people believe all first-year students gain 15 lbs. during the first year of college. While it’s not likely you will gain 15 lbs. in one year at school, being away from home means that you have more responsibility in what you eat. College is a perfect time to develop healthy habits. Find time to exercise at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and explore the healthy food options on campus.
I have no idea what I want to study, what should I do?
Asking a college student what they want to do in life is a pretty tough question. More than 33 percent of freshmen are unsure of their career path. It’s OK to explore career options! Spend some time during the first year of college taking different classes and exploring different interests. With 60 undergraduate majors and more than 100 emphases, minors and options at UW Oshkosh, there’s something for everyone. Things will eventually fall into place!
Can I change roommates?
College is the first time in many students’ lives where they will have a roommate to live with. Incoming students are given the option of taking a housing survey that helps pair them with the best available person. If problems arise with a roommate, however, try to work things out with them, or even ask for help from the residence hall staff.
How do I get around if I don’t have a car?
While having a car on campus is convenient, it is definitely not necessary at UW Oshkosh. Walking from one side of campus to the other takes only about 10-15 minutes! If you do need longer distance transportation, the Titan Transit system is available to students for free. Looking to travel somewhere or go back home on the weekends? Check out the Zimride rideshare and carpool service.
How does UW Oshkosh keep its students safe?
Student safety is a priority at UW Oshkosh. One resource available to help students feel safe is the Safewalk program. This program provides trained Community Service Officers (CSOs) to safely escort you on and around campus during the evening and night hours. In order to reduce fears of requesting a safewalk while intoxicated, the CSOs will escort you without asking any questions. There are also blue light emergency phones located all through campus with a direct link to University Police for students, faculty, staff and visitors in need of immediate assistance. Another program is the TitanAlert system. This text message based system is designed to communicate any important campus information right to your phone. Whether it’s a severe weather alert or a campus safety emergency, TitanAlert makes sure that students are informed immediately. For other safety tips and procedures at UW Oshkosh, visit the campus safety home page.
What happens if I fail a class?
In the case that a student’s GPA falls below a 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale), they will be placed on academic probation. Probation is designed to serve as a warning that some things need to change. One thing students can do is to retake courses. University policy allows for repeats of grades lower than a C without an appeal. Check out the specifics to the repeat policy online. UW Oshkosh provides students with resources for academic staff—from tutors to advisers to a writing center.
I have a hard time making friends, where can I meet new people?
Moving away from home and going to college means packing up and leaving friends and family. Many times students begin college in a new city not knowing a lot of people. Don’t worry, this is perfectly fine! During the first couple weeks at UW Oshkosh, there are plenty of orientation events to help incoming students meet others and get adjusted to the college life. A great way to meet new people is through student clubs and organizations. There are more than 100 student organizations and clubs at UW Oshkosh.
The event, which is sponsored by UW Oshkosh Career Services, will be held from 1 until 5 p.m. at Kolf Sports Center on the UW Oshkosh campus.
The career fair provides opportunities to students looking for jobs and internships in the area.
Professional dress is required at the event. For those who may not have professional dress options, the Career Closet is always an option, said Jaime Page-Stadler, director of Career Services at UW Oshkosh.
Recently, J. J. Keller made a substantial donation in clothing items to the Career Closet. J. J. Keller is a friend to UW Oshkosh through efforts like this donation, as well as through employment and internship opportunities. Currently, J. J. Keller has more than 60 alumni on staff and has eight UW Oshkosh interns.
“J. J. Keller is a very committed sponsor of UW Oshkosh Career Services and has assisted us in doing a company-wide professional clothing drive. The purpose of the Career Closet is to assist student in making a great first impression,” Page-Stadler said.
At the Career Fair on the Fox, students and alumni will have the opportunity to network and meet employers for possible full and part-time positions, internships, co-ops, practicums and volunteer opportunities.
Students and alumni can download the Career Fair + app to research employers in advance:
Discover Wisconsin TV hired Tony Memmel ’08, of Nashville, Tenn., to write, compose and perform a new theme song for the show, which aired on Feb. 21 and 22 for the first time.
The new theme song, called “The Good Land,” was part of the 400th episode celebration with Discover Wisconsin.
Memmel, a native of Milwaukee, is an award-winning singer-songwriter, speaker and composer. He started his music career as a child, not letting his disability take away his dream of learning to play guitar. Memmel was born without his left forearm, but has constructed a self-made cast that can hold a guitar pick.
The Good Land is an upbeat song that portrays what Discover Wisconsin TV is about; traveling to towns across Wisconsin to show what they have to offer. Memmel said he found inspiration from growing up in Wisconsin.
“When writing The Good Land, I focused on what I thought a modern anthem about the state might sound like and what it should say,” he said.
The 400th episode featured St. Germain, Sayner and Star Lake, all small, northern towns in Wisconsin.
Memmel uses folk, Americana, pop and other genres when he’s writing music. He also is known to sing with a “subtle, yet powerful voice,” according to his website.
At UW Oshkosh, Memmel was active in music. He was part of the chamber choir, sang in opera productions, became president of the chamber choir, majored in music business and even met his wife in the choir.
“Music was my life at UWO, and remains that way to this day,” he said.
Previously, Memmel has received recognition as the Wisconsin Area Music Industry singer-songwriter of the year and has been a finalist with his wife, Lesleigh, on VH1/Republic Records’ Make a Band Famous.
Along with singing and writing songs, Memmel works with schools and organizations to create clinical programs that are customized to focus on overcoming adversity, and creating vocational craftsmanship, artistic integrity and an ambitious spirit.
His hit, Lucky Fin Song, focuses on overcoming the adversity children with disabilities face. Memmel works as the Lucky Fin Project ambassador.
“The lyrics are about my mission to emphasize ability over disability, and to show children, as well as adults, that all things are possible, if you set your mind to them and don’t give up,” Memmel said.
He also teaches music master-classes to grade schools, high schools and colleges.
As a musician, Memmel has organized 11 national tours and performed in 44 states. He has performed at the Weill Center for the Performing Arts in Sheboygan, and has performed in the Superdome in New Orleans, both in front of large audiences.
Memmel is considered a “bright and upcoming artist,” sponsored by Gorilla Glue Co., Heid Music, Kyser Musical Products and Kopf Percussion. He partners with the Lucky Fin Project, MS run in the U.S. and a fundraiser called “Owen’s Song.”
For freshmen Reagan Oakley, joining the UW Oshkosh Ski and Snowboard club during the September 2014 Taste of Oshkosh wasn’t about joining a club, it was about joining a family.
“Going into college I only knew a few people coming to Oshkosh, so I was really nervous about not being able to find friends,” Oakley said. “Everyone in the club is super-friendly, and it’s really helped me become more comfortable with myself and to branch out more. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to get involved with.”
The UW Oshkosh Ski and Snowboard club, in its first year as a student organization at UWO, has more than 50 members, with many more students joining them for skiing and snowboarding trips.
The Ski and Snowboard Club is open to skiers and snowboarders of all skill-levels and is a great community to get involved with, said Derek Betz, senior music recording technology major and club president.
“Everyone is welcome,” Betz said. “I did not expect the friendships that we have developed throughout the year.”
Our mission is to allow college students to enjoy winter sports at a reduced cost and to provide students with a skiing and snowboarding community at UWO, Betz said.
For Nick Wirsching, a junior communication major and the Ski and Snowboard Club vice president said starting the Ski and Snowboard Club with Betz was an opportunity to have a community with other skiers and snowboarders and to continue skiing and snowboarding while in college.
“What doesn’t make the Ski and Snowboard Club fun?” Wirsching said. “We go skiing and snowboarding all of the time, it gets you away from the stresses of school and it is more than a club—it’s a community.”
Ski and Snowboard Club members bring with them diverse backgrounds and varying majors, strengthening the relationships and club environment.
“There’s always people with different concerns we need to address, and being a communication major has really helped me take what I learned in the classroom and address those concerns,” Wirsching said.
“You don’t have to be amazing to join the club. No one is judgmental, “Oakley said. “I’ve had the best experience with this group and others have really encouraged me and helped me improve.”
Watch the Ski and Snowboard Club video:
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s 1965 class president Dean Moede, of Milwaukee, takes his Titan ties seriously and is enthusiastic about returning to campus to lead his classmates in celebrating their 50th anniversary Golden Titan Reunion.
Moede said he remembers his years at UW Oshkosh as an important time of his life, inspiring him to be the class representative for the reunion.
“The big inspiration is that I have a strong homage for UW Oshkosh,” Moede said. “Here is where I met my wife, Judy, freshman year in a history class in Dempsey.”
Moede said he is looking forward to an exciting weekend and encourages all his classmates to attend.
“I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my classmates and sharing memories of those who impacted my life,” he said. “I would like to encourage my classmates to come because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to share in a celebration of their life at UW Oshkosh.”
Moede said there are a number of ways UWO has impacted his life academically and personally, and he credits the University for helping him become a more disciplined learner.
“The number one thing I gained at UWO was leadership followed by education,” Moede said.
Moede worked for Rockwell International for one year following graduation. After that, he began a 20-year career working for Reeve Memorial Union, where he held four different titles including marketing director.
“We all have the potential to develop leadership qualities,” he said. “But it is up to us to take advantage of leadership opportunities to grow into strong leaders.”
Alumni Relations Director Christine Gantner said alumni are invited to return for their 50th class reunion to build relationships and reconnect with their alma mater.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase what the University has become and the excellent education students continue to receive here,” she said.
The UW Oshkosh Golden Titan Reunion, scheduled for May 15-16, will feature:
In addition, contributions from members of the class of 1965 will help grow the Golden Titan Endowed Scholarship, which was launched by the class of 1959. For more information about the scholarship or the reunion, contact Alumni Relations by calling (920) 424-3449 or sending an email to email@example.com
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt and University Police Chief Joe LeMire were recently tossed into the frigid waters of Lake Winnebago as part of Polar Plunge Toss Your Boss event.
Several UW Oshkosh student organizations also plunged to raise money; the fundraising event benefited the Special Olympics of Oshkosh.