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Lab Results

By Bradley Beck and Tom Hanaway
Student Multimedia Reporters

Lab Detectives

Hailey Thimmig pulls on her bright purple hospital gloves and puts on her white lab coat. Cautiously, she picks up a test tube filled with a blood sample. She rotates the test tube a few times, punches some numbers into a computer and pops the test tube into the Culter Counter, a cell counting machine.

“We’re counting all kinds of aspects of blood - red and white blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin factors and a lot of other things,” Thimmig says, adding that med techs look for abnormalities in the blood that could eventually help doctors make diagnoses.

Lab Results
Hailey Thimmig (left) and Tyler Radke (center) learn about the Coulter Counter from John Strous, director of the medical technology program at UW Oshkosh. Photo by Tom Hanaway.

Thimmig, a third-year student in the medical technology program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, is learning the ins and outs of being a medical technologist, the professional who tests the fluids of a patient, read the results and interpret the information for doctors.

On this day in the Introduction to Hematology class, Thimmig practices using the cell counting instrument. She is one of the approximate 100 students majoring in medical technology, a program headed director John Strous since 1991.

The UW Oshkosh medical technology program began in 1956 in the chemistry department with a handful of students. The program slowly evolved from its birth in the chemistry department, and while the number of students has waxed and waned over the years, it has shown steady growth in recent years.


In the following video UW Oshkosh Medical Technology Director John Strous and student Michelle Cheslock share their thoughts about the growing field of medical technology. Video is shot and produced by student reporters Bradley Beck and Tom Hanaway and COLS Special Reports producer Grace Lim. Still photos by Shawn McAfee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.




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Photo Gallery

The medical technology program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has been described as a diamond in the rough. Through professional partnerships, director John Strous and his students have propelled this program to the top.

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Laurence Carlin

by Morgan Counts
Student Multimedia Reporter

game face 

Before every class, UW Oshkosh professor Larry Carlin psyches himself up for the next 60 minutes. He mutters to himself as a performer would before stepping on a stage or a football player before he sprints onto the field.

“Here we go,” he says before the clock starts. “There is a challenge before you.”

To his students, it is another hour of philosophy; to Carlin, it’s game on.

Carlin, a 2011 Edward M. Penson Distinguished Teaching Award winner, has been shaping the minds of young philosophers at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh since 2000. He relishes in the A-ha! moments when his students realize that philosophy is not only about dead men talking and that it is an integral part of their everyday lives.


“I say, ‘If you major in philosophy, upon graduation, you will receive a deep six figure salary,’” Carlin deadpans. Then he lets out a big laugh. “No, that’s not true. Here’s what’s true: Contrary to the myths, philosophy is very practical in the sense that it puts our most important beliefs on the table.”

It is easy to fall into Carlin’s spell. He speaks with the passion of a leave-everything-on-the-field coach. “These are the kinds of beliefs you use to confront your most important experiences,” he continues, his voice rising. “These are not the normal, everyday beliefs. These are the critical ones we argue about, the ones we hear about these days, all the political turmoil in Madison.”

Summing the evaluation of these issues into a few lines can be difficult. Carlin winces when asked for a simple explanation of “philosophy” because the definition found in dictionaries always falls short in his world. “If I had to put it in very few words I would put it as this: philosophy is the crucial examination, the critical study of our most fundamental beliefs.”

Carlin defies anyone to label beliefs in religion, morality, politics, society, science, humanity and other hotbed topics as trivial. “They are what motivate you and frame your outlook on life’s most important matters. They determine how you vote, what kind of roommate you will be, how you spend your Sunday mornings, how you raise your children, what kind of friend you are.

“Indeed, they are the very things that make you the person you are,” he stresses. “How could an intense study of those beliefs be a waste of time? What could be more practical than an evaluation of those beliefs?”

Balance Sheet to Socrates

Carlin has not always been a Plato-spewing proselyte. “When I was coming out of high school going into college, I was convinced I was going to be an accountant,” says Carlin, who earned his undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., his master’s degrees from the University of Houston and Rice University, where he also had earned his doctorate in philosophy. “Of course I was convinced of no such thing; I thought I wanted to be an accountant.”

The son of a long-time Philadelphia Eagles executive and a registered nurse, Carlin was the one in a family of seven children to question everything. He loved to find out how things worked, why things worked. He read every one of the Encyclopedia Brown books. His toy box was filled with science lab kits.


In this podcast, Dr. Laurence Carlin talks about what sparked his interest in philosophy and the challenges he faces teaching it. Produced by Michelle Peplow.

“I wanted to be a scientist and play with test tubes and microscopes,” Carlin says. “I was a very curious kid, and I had the support around me to nurture that.”

Despite his attraction for asking questions and seeking answers, Carlin headed into college with his sights set on a career of crunching numbers. Or so he had thought.

“Thanks to the general education requirement, I had to take a course in humanities,” Carlin says. “I think it was on the recommendation of a friend to take Intro to Philosophy because he found it rather interesting.”

“Rather interesting” would turn out to be an understatement. “It changed my life,” he said in complete seriousness. “I fell in love with it.”

That course sparked something he hadn’t felt before. 
“I took another course, The History of Ancient Philosophy, and I remember being riveted by the story of Socrates, his arguments for free speech and how he died for 
the cause.”

Three weeks into his second philosophy course, Carlin changed his major. “I traded in my balance sheets, which were never balanced, for the collected works of Plato.”

Now Carlin says he spends his time sharing his love of philosophy with others, many of whom may begin as philosophy skeptics.

He often starts his first day of his Introduction to Philosophy class with these questions: “How many of you, honestly, are here against your will? How many are here because you have to satisfy a general requirement, and the truth is if you did not have to satisfy the requirement, you would not be sitting here now?”

More often than not, more than half the students would raise their hands. Undaunted, Carlin always follows with a line that generates a laugh every semester. “Good, at least little more than half of you are telling the truth.”

In the Beginning

Carlin wastes little time tackling the big questions of our times. On the first day of his Introduction to Philosophy class, he throws his students off guard with a doozy: 
“Is there a God?” From there, he’ll walk the students through the critical arguments for and against.

Carlin is quick to say that he never reveals his personal beliefs. “I tell my students from day one that your professor believes nothing for purposes of this class. I tell them that I am the messenger. It is my job to relay both sides.”

On the Receiving End

Students share with reporter Michelle Peplow what they took away from Dr. Laurence Carlin's classes. Read on. 

The result, he says, may lead to more questions. “We must not mistake not having an answer with lack of progress. Those are two entirely different things,” he says firmly. “If you are forced to re-conceptualize your belief system based in lieu of further evidence, you’ve just been educated, haven’t you?”

No Podium Here: Dr. Laurence Carlin keeps his students engaged by his active lecturing style.

His students, in fact, become more knowledgeable in their uncertainty. “We work very hard at critical thinking, at distinguishing bad arguments from good arguments, at putting a controversial view on the table and saying ‘What’s a good way to weigh the evidence for and against this view?’”

Carlin, who is loath to stand behind a lectern, likens the study of philosophy to a team sport. “It involves an active exchange of ideas. You want as much information as possible if you’re going to engage in critical thinking and look at arguments on both sides.”

During a recent lecture in his upper-division Philosophy and the Scientific Revolution class, Carlin discussed Galileo’s natural philosophy. Teaching, for Carlin, is a physical activity. He prowls back and forth, punctuating points with his hands in the air, pointing at the students. “Are you with me?” he bellows.

Carlin reads excerpts from The Essential Galileo, a letter written in 1613 from Galileo to his former student, Benedetto Castelli, a mathematics professor at the University of Pisa. Even while reading, Carlin is poised for action. Book in hand, arm bent at an angle, Carlin looks like a sprinter ready to take off.

Woe be the student who appears less than totally engaged. At one rare lull point, Carlin stands up 
and says an apparent non sequitur. “What does 
Mrs. Carlin say?” (He later explains that Mrs. Carlin in 
this case was his mother who had an arsenal of sayings for many occasions.)

In unison, the students respond, “If you are going to soar with the eagles, you can’t hoot with the owls.” That meant, get enough sleep so you can be prepared for class.

He smiles and punches the air once again. “That’s right! Now what is Galileo trying to say here?”

The Game of Life

Carlin confronts big controversial issues every class period. However, the issues that plague the non-academic in him are much more pedestrian. Carlin and his wife, Stephanie, are parents to three active children: Nathan, 9; Maxwell, 7; and Sophie, 4.

“Like every parent, we wonder if we are doing the right things,” he shares. “Are we setting the right rules? What will be the consequences here? Like any parent, I think the biggest concern you have in your life is your children. You want to be a good parent, you don’t want to fail your children.”

Carlin knows better than to seek definitive answers for his parenting questions. For now, it is enough to be involved parents and to see that their children are growing up happy, healthy and loved.

  Dr. Laurence Carlin coaches his son's fourth-grade football squad.

In spring of 2011, Carlin coached a kindergarten/first-grade softball team. He currently coaches his son Nathan’s fourth-grade tackle football squad.

Like any coach, Carlin never knows what to expect heading into a new season, especially with youngsters new to a sport.

“The first day of practice you can take nothing for granted,” he says. “If they hit the ball, they start running toward third base carrying the bat. You really have to start from square one.”

Carlin takes the same let’s-start-with-square-one game plan with philosophy neophytes. “When I teach Intro, many are already convinced before I say a word that it is boring,” he says. “Can I change their mind about philosophy? Can I get them interested in something 
that, beforehand, they thought they could never be interested in?”

Carlin takes great joy with teaching successes big and small. Whether a student grasps a difficult concept or realizes how engaging philosophy can be, he sees each accomplishment as another player running toward the right direction.

 The struggle to get there is something Carlin can never give up. “I have never gotten tired of philosophy. I continue to enjoy the challenge and I love interacting with students.”

Mastery of the course material is important, Carlin says, but more important is their ability to be better and more knowledgeable defenders of their own views.

 If Carlin’s students were to walk away from his class with only one lesson learned, he knows which lesson he would want that to be.

 “I hope that they take with them the belief that what we are doing is important, that thinking hard about religious beliefs, political beliefs, these controversial issues, is relevant, is worthwhile,” he says, adding with a big grin, “and frankly, can make your head a happy place to live too.”

Student reporter Michelle Peplow also contributed to this report.

Research Matters

Discovering New Worlds
Video Podcast

In this podcast, Professor Carlin discusses the importance of studying abroad as well as his own study abroad programs in Scotland. Produced by Morgan Counts. Original music by UW Oshkosh music composition student Grace Hennig. Photos courtesy of Laurence Carlin. For more information about Dr. Carlin' s upcoming study abroad program, please visit Reason and Religion in 18th Century Scotland.







Before every class, UW Oshkosh professor Larry Carlin psyches himself up for the next 60 minutes. He mutters to himself as a performer would before stepping on a stage or a football player before he sprints onto the field. “Here we go,” he says before the clock starts.

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Lessons from the Inca Trail

Lessons from the Inca Trail

Lessons from the Inca Trail

 Inca header

Math Education in Peru

Inca jungle


Dr. Eric Kuennen wanted to take his students, all future teachers of math, out of their comfort zone. He wanted them to view the world of mathematics from a different perspective. This desire to shake things up led Kuennen and 16 of his students to the mountains, jungles and deserts of Peru.

"We really need to go someplace that's different from the U.S.," said Kuennen, an assistant professor of math at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, who along with Dr. Jennifer Szydlik, led the students on a study tour in Peru last summer. "We need to take them out of their comfort level."

A Different View

In this four-week course "International Comparative Mathematics Education Seminar," (Math Education in Peru), students spent the first week of class in Oshkosh, where they studied theories and conditions of learning and the theory and practice of teaching. The next two weeks took place in Lima, the capital of Peru, where the students attended class at the Universidad del Pacifico and visited public and private elementary and seconInca castledary schools. The students were also given an opportunity to teach a class to Peruvian students. The last week was spent traveling Peru where they stayed at a jungle lodge in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, explored the Inca ruins and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Kuennen said going to Peru, for many of his students, was a journey in discovery. "It is completely different from what they are used to in Oshkosh, in Wisconsin," he says. "The city of Lima is a huge sprawling city with lots of lower-income, kind of Third World neighborhoods. It was an eye-opener for our students to see that so much of the world lives in a completely different standard of living than what we're used to."

Two math professors and 16 students embarked on a four-week journey that started in the classroom in Oshkosh and ended in the Peruvian Andes mountains.  In an interview with COLS Special Reports producer Grace Lim, professors Eric Kuennen and Jennifer Szydlik and their students Erica Prosser and Ben Ward talk about the lessons learned on the Inca Trail.

The video is also available for download to your iPod through UW Oshkosh iTunesU (requires iTunes).
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Cities, Jungles and Mountains

Ben Ward, a senior majoring in education, said he knew little about Peru before venturing there. "I heard of the Incas, I've heard of the Andes and I knew that it was in South America," said Ward, who has never traveled outside the United States prior to this trip .

Ward was humbled by what he saw -- from the deplorable conditions in the slum cities to the majestic mountains. "I didn't really expect the slums to be that bad and to be able to see it forever," he said. "But there were also parts that were really beautiful, the sand dunes, the rainforests were amazing, and Machu Picchu was breath-taking."

Fellow student Erica Prosser, who is majoring in elementary education, was equally enthralled. She says the experience of teaching a lesson in the Peruvian schools will help her become a better teacher. She is student teaching in Cameroon this spring.

Inca classroomShe said the students in Peru weren't used to working in groups. "There wasn't much student-centered there at all. It  was more of the teacher-transmitting the knowledge to the kids."

Prosser and her classmates decided to switch things up. They gave the Peruvian kids a group-work activity to tackle. "They were very taken aback," she says. "They weren't used to the idea of mathematics coming from them."

But toward the end of the day, Prosser said the Peruvian kids were getting the hang of this different style of teaching and learning. "They were really catching on, really enjoying the interactive way of learning mathematics."

Prosser said studying abroad has proven invaluable in her quest to be a teacher. "You have to be more sensitive to different cultures to different ways of living," she says. "It’s just so much better to not live underneath a rock and think that your way of living is the right way, or that your way of thinking is the only way. Anytime you can broaden your mind is absolutely beneficial to you and to anybody that you come in contact with."Inca students sitting

Szydlik, who has taught in the math department since 1995, agrees. "It’s very difficult to see your own culture, your own world from the inside only," she said. "And many of these students have never been anywhere but on the inside of their world." 

But the study abroad program gave the students another view of the world. "This gave us the opportunity to see things from the outside, to stand somewhere else," she said. "The math education in Peru trip gave us that, allowed us to see not only that culture, but our own in a different way."


Peru photos courtesy of the instructors and students. Photo composite by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Media Services. For more information about the math edu in Peru trip, please visit Dr. Eric Kuennen's Web site.



The UWO Math Ed in Peru group riding dune buggies near Huacachina in Ica, Peru.

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Dr. Eric Kuennen wanted to take his students, all future teachers of math, out of their comfort zone. This desire to shake things up led Kuennen and 16 of his students to the mountains, jungles and deserts of Peru.

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Life on the Run

Life on the Run

Life on the Run


 By Eric Balkman and Andrew Munger
Student News Reporters

Coaching Stars

With happy smiles, a few long pauses and plenty of introspection, two of the pillars of the UW Oshkosh athletic department donned their running shoes and jogged off together into the proverbial sunset.

After three decades each of service to UW Oshkosh that included leading various Titans teams to 24 out of the school’s 42 NCAA Division III national championships, the married coaching couple Deb Vercauteren and John Zupanc has called it a career.  In January 2011, they left their coaching, teaching and administrative positions. 

Zupanc said that despite all of the athletic success the program has enjoyed under his and Vercauteren’s leadership, he will always remember how much he enjoyed seeing kids enter the program and then come back to visit him years later with established adult lives.

“You can see them as guys coming in out of high school and watching them evolve into college graduates,” he said. “And now they get that first job and have a family and come back. Those kinds of things—you remember a lot of those.”

Setting Goals

Vercauteren said she will miss going to practice and the thrill of the competition, but she will most miss seeing her student-athletes achieve lofty goals.

“What I remember most is someone setting a goal that’s way, way out there and maybe persevering towards that goal for two, three—sometimes four—years and they finally accomplish that,” she said. “That’s the part of coaching that I really like.”

Vercauteren coaching career began rather inauspiciously in 1980 when she was hired as the university’s women’s badminton coach. But when that sport was dropped a year later, she became the school’s head women’s cross-country coach. She then took over as UW Oshkosh’s head women’s track and field coach in 1982.

For more than a quarter century Vercauteren held both positions. In 2009 she switched to be the assistant women’s track and field coach with Pat Ebel taking over the head coaching position.

In 1981, Zupanc was a volunteer assistant for the men’s track and field team. He became the head men’s cross-country coach in 1982. Zupanc was named the head men’s outdoor track and field coach in 2005, while taking the same position for the indoor team the following year.

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After three decades each of service to UW Oshkosh that included leading various Titans national titles, the married coaching couple Deb Vercauteren and John Zupanc has called it a career. wo of the pillars of the UW Oshkosh athletic department donned their running shoes and jogged off together into the proverbial sunset.

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Marty Robinson

The Sound of Jazz

By Brad Beck
Student Multimedia Reporter

Dr. Marty Robinson on trumpet with The Marty Robinson Quartet.

Every once in a while Marty Robinson is struck by a piece of music. The music may come from a snippet from a radio commercial or a theme song to a TV show. Then Robinson remembers why the tune gives him pause - he had composed it.

Robinson is an associate professor of trumpet and jazz at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. In addition to teaching applied trumpet students, Robinson directs the jazz ensembles and teaches “The Evolutions of Jazz,” a jazz history class offered through the Music Department. Robinson holds degrees from Lawrence University (B.M. in trumpet performance), the Eastman School of Music (M.M. in jazz studies), and Florida State University (D.M. in composition). Prior to coming to UW Oshkosh in 2004, Dr. Robinson served for 10 years as an associate professor of trumpet and jazz studies at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, where he was recognized as “Teacher of the Year” in 2001.

He is the composer and trumpeter on numerous recordings that have been aired in recent years on national television and radio, including music for HBO’s The Sopranos, ABC’s 20/20, Fox’s NFL Films, PBS’s National Geographic, and CBS’s U.S. Open Tennis Coverage, as well as national campaigns for NBC’s ER, Hershey’s Chocolate, ADT Security, Gillette, and Burger King. 

Audio Only Podcasts

The following podcast interviews were conducted and produced by student multimedia reporter Brad Beck.

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Dr. Robinson speaks about why he enjoys teaching The Evolution of Jazz and the connections students make to history and culture during the class. The Evolution of Jazz will be offered in the Fall of 2012 as a part of the Music Department.

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Dr. Robinson touches on his career as a commercial composer for various corporations as well as the major television networks.

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Dr. Robinson talks about the afternoon he shared with jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie.


Dr. Marty Robinson on trumpet at the Fox Jazz Festival with The Marty Robinson Quartet.


Audio Recordings

The following audio excerpts are taken from UW Oshkosh Jazz Ensemble with permission from Marty Robinson.

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"Beijo Innoncente" (featuring Marty Robinson on trumpet)

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"Prelude to a Kiss" by Duke Ellington

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"The Dance Denial"

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Every once in a while Marty Robinson is struck by a piece of music. The music may come from a snippet from a radio commercial or a theme song to a TV show. Then Robinson remembers why the tune gives him pause - he had composed it.

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Michael David

By Brad Beck
Student Multimedia Reporter

Michael David

Update Below: Michael David's crossword was published in the April 23 edition of the New York Times.


As a child, Michael David loved unraveling word problems. Recently, what began as a childhood hobby has turned into an outright fixation of crossword puzzles.

Not just working crossword puzzles, but creating them. David, 31, a math education graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will soon see not one, but two of his crossword creations in the hallowed halls of crossword aficionados: The New York Times.

The New York Times crossword puzzles, which appear daily in the newspaper, are regarded among the most prestigious crosswords in America. Monday puzzles are usually the easiest; Sundays are the most difficult.

Celebrities like former President Clinton, TV host Jon Stewart, and ex-New York Yankee Mike Mussina are avid fans of the Times crossword puzzles.  

David credits his math background for his success and interest in crossword puzzles. He graduated from Ripon College with a bachelor’s degree in math and French and now teaches math at Portage High School in Portage, Wis.

“Many of the top solvers are people who work in math or music or any kind of profession where there are patterns involved,” said David, who was inspired to construct his own puzzle after watching Wordplay, a 2006 documentary that focuses on the world of crossword puzzles.

Once David has workable idea and theme, he uses a computer program called Crossword Compiler to design a grid for the crossword puzzle. Once the grid is created, he can then place the letters in the squares.

For David, one puzzle could take up to 10 hours to construct, over the span of a few days.

Crossword creators, David said, always attempt to keep their puzzles current to make them more attractive to readers and puzzle solvers. They include quotes from The Simpsons and everyday language as well. “I always have theme ideas circling around in my head,” he said.

On March 16th, Michael David plans to attend the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Brooklyn, New York. The tournament, which is directed by Will Shortz, The New York Times crossword editor, is the oldest and largest crossword competition in the country, attended by the best “word players” in the nation.

David downplayed his chances at the big crossword competition. “I’m just doing it for a kick this year,” he said.



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In this audio-only podcast, student multimedia reporter Brad Beck
sits down with Michael David to discuss his venture into the world
of crossword puzzles.



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As a child, Michael David loved unraveling word problems. Recently, what began as a childhood hobby has turned into an outright fixation of crossword puzzles.

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Michelle Kuhl, Ph.D.

Michelle Kuhl, Ph.D.

Michelle Kuhl, Ph.D.

Michelle Kuhl, Ph.D.
College of Letters and Science

by Samantha Anderson and
Brittany Lemmenes, Student Features Reporters


Teaching Through Stories

Michelle Kuhl is fired up. On this day, she is faced with this challenge: make Coming of Age in Mississippi, a 1968 memoir by Anne Moody about her life as an African American girl growing up in Mississippi, relevant to her students in this time, in this place.

She turns to the students in her African American History class, which is glaringly homogenous, and asks, “Is there a black experience, or is it unique to the individual?” The students divide into groups to dissect her question, and Kuhl works the room, making sure that each cluster is on track. She listens in, sometimes jumping in with a counter argument that gives the students pause.

One group ties the question to educational experiences. They share stories about their school life when they were kids. One girl talks about her small, rural, predominantly white school. Another, who went through the Milwaukee school system, shares the struggle he faced going to an overcrowded but terribly underfunded school. The teachers, he says, were overwhelmed and unequipped to control the students.

The 90-minute class started with a story about a black girl in Mississippi, but it ended as a conscious race experience. For Kuhl, the story served as a vehicle to get her students to think, to process and see life through different lenses.

Kuhl, an associate professor of history at UW Oshkosh, teaches through story. Whether it’s about the American Revolution or the backstory of unions during the Industrialization Age, her students learn history through her stories.

Kuhl’s storytelling ability runs in the family. Her father, Paul, a history professor, exposed Kuhl and her two siblings to educational opportunities, like trips to museums. Her mother, Sarah, was a kindergarten teacher and a natural storyteller.

Her mother would regal her with tales of growing up in Wichita Falls, Texas. Then she’d let her daughter take center stage so she could tell a story of her own. “That had a lot of influence on me,” Kuhl says. “I think that prepared me to be a history professor in a great way—that I spend a lot of my days telling stories.”

Kuhl took an interest in history at a young age, though she wouldn’t realize her true love for the subject until her college years. Her favorite book in second-grade was a biography of Harriet Tubman. She liked the adventure of the story: a slave woman who escaped from her owners, but risked her life many times by returning to slave country to rescue others. “I liked learning about injustice and overcoming it,” Kuhl says.

Kuhl with students
Michelle Kuhl converses with students in a discussion group during class.
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In this audio-only podcast, Michelle Kuhl talks about how she responds to students who say history is boring. Podcast produced by student features reporter Noell Dickmann.

Kuhl grew up in Pfafftown, N.C., a town situated outside the larger Winston-Salem, a major producer in North Carolina’s cigarette industry. As a kid, field trips for Kuhl involved going to a cigarette factory, much like kids in Wisconsin go to dairy farms. She recalls going to the RJ Reynolds Co., which manufactured the iconic Camel cigarettes, and petting the life-sized camel made out of tobacco leaves in the company’s lobby. “They’d hand out packs of cigarettes to the kids as a parting gift and say, ‘Now remember, this is for your parents,’” she says with a laugh.

As a young girl, Kuhl realized that not all people were treated the same. When she was 6 and raised as a good Catholic, she declared at Sunday school that she wanted to be a priest when she grew up. The nuns were horrified and suggested she be a nun instead. Kuhl didn’t much like that idea. “I thought, ‘Who wants to be a nun?’”

She was constantly told she couldn’t do such things because she was a girl and given messages that a girl’s self-worth is related to her appearance. As a self-described organic feminist, she was never interested in the culture of waking up an hour early to do her hair and makeup like other girls in the 1970s. She never hid the fact that she was smart and didn’t understand why other girls at school did. In high school Kuhl joined the marching band and debate club and took accelerated classes. “I think I could win an award for nerd,” Kuhl laughs again.

Growing up in North Carolina also exposed Kuhl to racial issues as the state was in the middle of transitioning to integration. She rode one of the integrated school buses in the area, a bus driven by a high school student as part of his driver’s ed class. On this bus were students in both middle and high school, some of who claimed they were proud members of the KKK.

During one of the 40-minute rides to school, Kuhl, then 10, saw a group of white boys from the back of the bus hanging out the window, hollering and harassing a black woman and her teenage son as he went to get on the bus. The mother was so upset that she pointed a shotgun at them, which made the boys laugh harder.

“I remember thinking, ‘This is strange,’” Kuhl says. “I wasn’t scared of her... I was always more scared of the white boys.”

Women and History

Like many college students, Kuhl didn’t know what she wanted to do when she started at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, so she dipped into a variety of subjects she liked, collecting course credits across the board.

Sophomore year she took a U.S. Women’s History class that completely changed how she looked at the world. Finally she was given insight to the strange and confusing situations of her youth. In that class, Kuhl learned about how women had been in a subordinate position and was impressed by how they got out of it. She was hungry to learn more. “It helped me understand my life and the world around me,” Kuhl says. “It just helped make so many things make sense to me.”

By the time she was a junior she realized that she was accumulating more history credits than any other subject. She felt the same connection and clarity taking history classes she had felt that sophomore year. She became a history major.

At that time, North Carolina State did not have a women’s studies program. Undeterred, Kuhl created her own informal women’s studies degree. She did so by relating papers and projects to a feminist perspective. After graduating from North Carolina State University in 1991 with a bachelor’s in history, Kuhl was still uncertain on what path to take. She wandered for a while, staying with relatives in Texas for a year, then headed back to North Carolina. Back in Raleigh, she worked her way up in a catering business she’d been at throughout college. But after a while, catering wasn’t cutting it. “I missed the world of ideas,” Kuhl says. “And I missed thinking about how the world worked, and reading books about ideas.”

In order to fulfill her desire for intellectual discovery, Kuhl enrolled in graduate school at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and pursued studies in American History. By that point Kuhl knew she wanted to be a historian, and she chose to become a history professor. She received her master’s degree in 1995 and continued on there for her doctorate.

After she received her doctorate in 2004, Kuhl wrote many essays, including one that was published in Interconnections: Gender and Race in American History by Carol Faulkner and Alison Parker. She is currently working on a book about the anti-lynching movement called Manly Martyrs: African Americans and the Anti-Lynching Battle.

In Manly Martyrs, Kuhl wants to know how African Americans dealt with lynching. How did they experience, fight against and overcome it? “I think secretly I was hoping to find a story about women saving the day,” Kuhl says, “and though women were important in the struggle, I got more interested in questions of how manhood was being defined.”

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In this audio-only podcast, Michelle Kuhl explains what she would say to someone who asks, "There is not field of men's studies, why should women's studies be a field of interest?"

Kuhl began teaching at UW Oshkosh in 2004 after she was a visiting professor at Utica College in New York and the University of Texas at Dallas. Had she been asked as an undergraduate, Kuhl would not have wanted to go into teaching. She was more ambitious than that, or so she thought, at the time. Now, she appreciates the profession. “I think being a teacher is very ambitious,” she says. “You’re trying to shape people’s minds and teach them to think, so I have more respect for the profession now and see teaching as something that’s hard to do.”

She finds value in the dual roles that she plays—as a researcher and writer while alone, and that of a thought-provoking, idea-bouncer while in the classroom. “I really like that energy and that dynamic,” she says.

Plus, she is now able to find answers to all of the questions that have plagued her throughout life, especially from a feminist perspective. The life of a professor, however, is not always easy. Sometimes nobody reads the research that took months to complete, write about and publish. Sometimes students just don’t care about class. That’s why Kuhl has what she calls her “insurance against despair.”

On her University website page is a quote from John Hope Franklin, a renowned U.S. historian and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Honor, that serves as a reminder that all the work is worth it.
“I would only add that when one begins a poem, a hymn, a short story, or even a history, one must be optimistic about its completion and about what it seeks to teach. If one believes in the power of his own words and in the words of others, one must also hope and believe that the world will be a better place by our having spoken or written those words.”

Knowledge and Wisdom

After teaching for 13 years, Kuhl knows her goal when she faces a new group of students each semester. She wants them to come away with a combination of knowledge and wisdom.

In her mind, knowledge is timely, but wisdom is timeless. She says studying history exercises the mind in such a way that you have to think critically. “You have to imagine choices people have made, you have to think about a really different world, you have to look for patterns and evidence,” Kuhl says. “That kind of practice of doing history can create wisdom.”

But wisdom is not easily gained, and neither is an A in Kuhl’s classes, so she does her best to show students their work pays off in the long run. “I try to show students that it’s a process, it’s not just memorizing facts,” she says. “It’s not just one damn thing after another.”
She pauses. “History is making sense of what we know, and that’s more like a puzzle. There’s no right answer; everyone has to make sense of the past on their own terms.”

Kuhl and students
Michelle Kuhl challenges students during a small group discussion.
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In this audio-only podcast, Michelle Kuhl tells a story about her favorite historical person. Pdcast produced by student features reporter Noell Dickmann.

According to her students, Kuhl’s lessons have lasting effects. Journalism major Brittany Farrell left Kuhl’s class still thinking about what they had discussed minutes before. “I found the knowledge that Dr. Kuhl opened up to me carries into my personal life and guides me on certain issues outside of school,” Farrell said.

Jasmine Draxler, a history major, appreciated Kuhl’s vast knowledge about the subject of the class. “She really excels in teaching details about African Americans,” Draxler said. “More than what you would learn from a survey.”

In a recent student opinion survey, a student wrote, “Kuhl got me really interested in history. I wanted to do the homework. Helped me decide to get a history minor.”

But not all of Kuhl’s students are as enthusiastic about history. She teaches 120 students in two sections of her history survey class. At the beginning of each semester, she asks them how many students are taking the class because they love history, and how many are there only to fulfill a general education requirement.
Only a handful of students raise their hands for “love history.” “So I’m faced with four to six history fans, and over 100 people who just want to trudge through the course,” Kuhl says.

It’s a struggle to get students to care about history, but she finds fun ways to help them learn, like through song. Students often get confused about the Federalist, Anti-Federalist, and Jeffersonian political factions, so she asks them to pick a theme song that best represents the ideals of each and they sing them in class.
“I think if people are willing to sing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ to represent the Federalists, or ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ to represent the Jeffersonians, then students feel my classroom is a safe environment to do something risky for the sake of learning,” Kuhl says.

Kuhl’s colleagues sing her praises. Kim Rivers, professor and chair for the history department, has worked with Kuhl for years and enjoys the directness of her associate. “Michelle is a dedicated teacher and scholar who always exhibits professionalism in the classroom and in the department,” Rivers said.

Stephen Kercher, associate history professor, admires the versatility in which Kuhl can teach a wide range of courses. “I’ve had the privilege of watching her teach, and it’s fair to say that she inspires envy with the way she relates to her students,” Kercher said. 

History Lessons

Kuhl’s love of history is felt as strongly as home as it is as work. Her husband, Jeff Pickron, is a historian and lecturer at UW Oshkosh. Together they have two daughters: Clio, 10, and Eliza, 5.  “I think we bore our children to death,” Kuhl laughs. “When we watch the news we contextualize everything. If they ask us questions such as why people wear shoes, we start back in ancient history and give them the history of shoes.”

As for her teaching, she finds her greatest rewards from students who develop a true appreciation for history. She recalls one student who told her at a history club function how much he hated her class, how she gave too much work and how she was too hard on the students.

“Then he said when he was studying for the final exam, he realized he loved the class, that he learned and understood so much,” she says.

Kuhl is happy when her students appreciate the lessons they learn in the time spent with her. She hopes they learn one more lesson, too. “Instead of accepting the world around them as inevitable and natural, they’ll realize the world constantly changes,” she says, “and it changes because people with visions shape the world according to their visions.”

Her wish for her students? “Maybe our students will roll up their sleeves and work to remake the world according to their visions.”

research matters

by Michelle Kuhl, Ph.D.

My ongoing research interests center on race, gender, and violence in the Jim Crow period. In the 1880s lynch mobs killed hundreds of people a year in the American south, yet there was no outcry from the average citizen. How did people who explicitly championed liberty and Christianity tolerate this outrage? And how were activists able to challenge this complacency and define lynching as a moral crime? I draw on newspaper articles, short stories, sermons, organizational records, and images to chart the rise of a powerful anti-lynching movement. Many of the assumptions embedded in the practice and defense of lynching had to do with widespread assumptions about race, crime, sexuality, and gender that were backed by religion and science. The movement to debunk these fictions had some well-known leaders such as Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and Walter White. Many other lesser known people shaped this opposition such as sociologists, newspaper reporters, Baptist ministers, and of course, the numerous sharecroppers and workers who battled white supremacy on the ground. In many ways the story of lynching at the turn of the century provides a context for understanding modern day practices and beliefs about violence, crime, race, and gender. Overall, it helps us wrestle with the question: What do we tolerate as a society?

Student Assistant Features Editor Noell Dickmann also contributed to this report.

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Michelle Kuhl is fired up. On this day, she is faced with this challenge: make Coming of Age in Mississippi, a 1968 memoir by Anne Moody about her life as an African American girl growing up in Mississippi, relevant to her students in this time, in this place.

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Midwest in the Far East

Midwest in the Far East

UW Oshkosh students trek up the Great Wall of China.

Update: If you would to order prints or a DVD from The Midwest in the Far East event, please click here.

The Midwest in the Far East on Oct. 12 is a celebration of study and travel at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. It will include a multimedia presentation in the Steinhilber Gallery and Reeve Union Theatre. Audio and video podcasts conducted in China by UW Oshkosh journalism students and multimedia interns Tom Hanaway and Kristen Manders will also be available for visitors at the gallery exhibit.

Light refreshments* will be served at 6 p.m.
Presentation in Reeve Union Theatre will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Join us for this free event on the third floor of Reeve Union.

Click on the magazine covers to read more about the two trips.

Midwest Biz Mag Cover Midwest Math Ed Mag Cover 
Business and Economics in China Math Education in China

Event Trailer

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On the Great Wall of China with Tom Hanaway

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* Courtesy of the Pepsi Fund

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For three weeks, two groups of UW Oshkosh students -- math education and business/economics -- ventured to China on a journey that changed the way they look at the world. Join us for an evening of discovery as the students share their stories.

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Nazar Kulchytskyy

Nazar Kulchytskyy

Nazar Kulchytskyy. Photo by Alex Beld.

By Noell Dickmann
Multimedia News Intern


the final countdown

Nazar Kulchytskyy is two points up with 55 seconds left in the match. He sees the exhaustion in his opponent’s face but doesn’t let up. Too much is at stake. They are the last two men standing in the 165-pound class of the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championship. The wrestlers twist each other around a big white circle painted on a blue mat, grappling and grunting like ogres.

With the clocking ticking down… eight, seven, six… his opponent lunges, aiming for Nazar’s legs, but Nazar fends off the last-ditch effort. Seconds later, the crowd goes wild. Nazar grins broadly and celebrates with a backflip.

A junior at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Nazar has just become a two-time NCAA DIII Champion. He’s made history, as no one from the university has won the title before, and no one has won it two years in a row.

It hasn’t been an easy journey. Just over a decade ago, Nazar was living in Ukraine, dreaming of the day he would be called the world’s greatest wrestler.

Though winning a couple of national titles may be a dream come true for some collegiate athletes, Nazar is only warming up.

humble beginnings

Nazar Kulchytskyy [nuh-zar kull-chit-skee] was born in Sosnivka, Ukraine, a small, rural town of about 15,000. His parents were both music teachers whose only wish for their three children was to have better opportunities than what Ukraine could provide.

Nazar, age 8, and his coach, Leonidas. 

Nazar started wrestling when he was 7. New to the mat yet, he lost the first tournament he went to. A few months later he tried a second tournament and won. It was then Nazar gained confidence and realized he could win; he beat older boys with experience.

He continued to wrestle older boys because he placed into their weight class. He got so good he can’t remember a time since that first loss he’s placed lower than third.

Nazar's adolescence was dominated by wrestling. Instead of playing soccer with friends for fun like other eight-year-old boys in Ukraine, his strict father limited him to two activities, school and wrestling. Nazar didn't mind.

His coach, Leonidas, saw his dedication and potential early on. He liked that Nazar never gave up, even on the tough days. Leonidas challenged the young wrestlers with hard training exercises that left some unable to breathe. "If you want to be a champion, do it," he’d tell them. "If not, you can leave."

Nazar was one of the few who never left. In fact, he’d stay after practice to train more. Before he was 10, he had already made a lifetime goal: Nazar Kulchytskyy would be a world wrestling champion.

A goal like that meant a lifetime of work, and Nazar soon learned how hard that work would be.


When he was 12 years old, Nazar moved to Odessa, Ukraine with his coach and one other young wrestler to be in a wrestling club and train. Odessa was more than a thousand miles away from home.

If missing his family wasn’t hard enough on him, the training was. Every day Nazar woke up at 5 a.m. to run at least three miles before wrestling practice. Then he’d attend school and after-school wrestling practice. By the time he completed his homework it was time for bed. The next day the cycle repeated.

When the weekend came, he was usually too tired have fun with friends. "All you want is to sleep, and just relax and get ready for next week," Nazar said.

The discipline paid off. Nazar won five Ukrainian National Wrestling Championships and placed third in the European Wrestling Championship - all before the age of 17. In the meantime, back home his parents were trying to move their family to America, seeking a better life for their children.

He also tried to find a way out of Ukraine. With his older sister’s help he began contacting coaches in Germany and America to see if he could move and wrestle there.

They found Larry Marchionda of Fond du Lac, Wis., a former international wrestler who now runs his own wrestling business called World Class Wrestling Enterprises. Marchionda was conducting business online when he received a one-sentence email from Nazar:

“I want to come to America and learn English and wrestle can you help” (sic)

Marchionda liked Nazar’s priorities. “I liked it because he said learn English first, and then wrestle,” said Marchionda, who is also the wrestling administrator at UW Oshkosh. “So that meant to me that he really did want to learn.”

Nazar with dad and Larry
Nazar with Larry Marchionda (left) and his father, Arkadiy Kulchytskyy (right).

It took about 2 ½ years, but Nazar’s family got lucky. In 2008 they won the Green Card Lottery, or Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. The annual U.S. program makes 55,000 visas available worldwide by drawing from a random selection of entries from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States, according to the U.S. Department of State website.

According to statistics from the Diversity Visa Program website, the odds of the Kulchytskyy family winning were about 1 in 500.

Before he could move to America, Nazar needed one more thing: his high school diploma. He didn’t want to leave Ukraine just shy of graduating high school, so he studied even harder and took exams early. His Ukrainian diploma now proudly hangs next to his American one.

That spring Nazar, 16, his mom and dad boarded a flight to America, ready to start a new life in a land where endless opportunities awaited. 


Leaving Ukraine was bittersweet. Nazar couldn't wait to see what America would be like. He imagined a life free of worries and financial struggles.

However, Nazar was leaving loved ones behind - his brother and sister who couldn't come because they were too old to qualify for the visa, as well as many relatives. He had to leave wrestling friends, the people of Odessa who had come to love him as a local celebrity and Leonidas, his beloved wrestling coach for the past five years.

“Do your best, and always remember what I’ve taught you,” Leonidas told him right before he left for America.

His parents, too, were faced with big changes. They knew coming to America would give their youngest more opportunities to be successful. But it also meant they would trade their love of teaching music for working in a factory. They don’t mind, because a factory job in America has provided more financial stability than teaching in Ukraine.

the land of opportunity

When they arrived in Wisconsin, they finally got to meet Marchionda, who’d kept in close contact. He got the family settled in Prairie du Chien, Wis., and set Nazar up with a new wrestling coach and team at the local high school. Even though he had already graduated from high school in Ukraine, the American system was different and he still had to go to senior year.

However, Nazar couldn’t wrestle competitively. He was considered a professional at the high school level because of the championships he’d won. But he took it to his advantage and worked on his English skills instead.

The first year in America was rough. Nazar had already learned English for 10 years during school in Ukraine and thought he would be in good shape to speak. His first conversation was with his coach, he said, and it was a rude awakening. He couldn’t understand a word.

“That was a really tough year for me,” Nazar said. But he didn’t give up; instead he immersed himself in conversations as much as possible. “I just like to communicate with people,” he said. After a year he learned more words, then how to build a sentence and the rules of the English language.

Everybody in his high school liked Nazar because he was so different. “I didn’t have a tough time making friends,” he said. “Tougher time was to talk and talk well.”

Sometimes words weren’t needed, especially on the sports field. He and his new friends broke through the language barrier by playing basketball and soccer - they made a connection without words.

Nazar in front of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Already in 2010, Nazar had caught the U.S. Olympics Committee’s attention. He was invited to - and did - train at the Olympic Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He also caught the eyes of many Division I schools. He would soon be choosing a college to attend, and the best of the best were wooing him.

Unfortunately, an injury changed his plans. He nearly tore his ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] during practice three days before a national tournament. Still, he competed and placed third, which ranked him second in the country. He practiced through the pain of his knee for almost a year before undergoing surgery.

He was sidelined after knee surgery in June 2011, so he enrolled at UW Oshkosh to recuperate. The plan was to stay a year, then move to a Division I school.

Even then Nazar couldn’t be kept out of the wrestling room at UW Oshkosh. He met coach Christopher Stratton and began practicing with Titan wrestlers as soon as he could. Nazar quickly became a team leader and arguably, the most dominant wrestler in the country.

“It’s just a pleasure being on his team cause he’s so good,” Stratton said. “He is an elite athlete.”

Nazar knows what it takes to be a winner. “When you see results, you keep working even harder,” he said. “You enjoy it because you want another medal, you want to win another tournament.”

To non-wrestlers, brute force may be the key to winning, but Nazar compares wrestling to chess - it’s all about brains. “The best guys in the country and the best guys in the world.. they’re fast, their technique is well, they’re strong, they’re powerful,” he said, “but strategy is number one.”


Before a tournament there are headphones in Nazar’s ears. Sometimes he listens to classical music if he needs to clear his mind, sometimes European techno if he needs to pump up. But just before a match, Nazar can be found alone. No noise, no people, no music, just Nazar.

“I think about [the] match and make a strategy,” he said. “And then I’ll just go in and do it.”

He’s racking the wins, including the Freestyle World Trials in April 2012, which qualified him to represent the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics in London. But because he is not yet a naturalized American citizen, Nazar could not participate. He’s received the 2012 and 2013 WIAC Wrestler of the Year award, and dons countless gold, silver and bronze medals around his neck in a picture posted on Facebook.

Nazar wears some of the many medals he's won. 
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In this audio-only podcast, Nazar discusses the hard work involved with wrestling. Produced by Noell Dickmann. 

The plan to transfer to a bigger school has been all but forgotten. “I just can’t transfer,” said Nazar, who turned down a scholarship to UW Madison. “There’s just such nice people here who help me. I’m really close to graduation, so I don’t want to go somewhere else.”

That doesn’t mean he has dropped his main goal. He will participate in the Ukraine World Trials in the summer. If he wins he will go to the World Championship.

“My biggest dream is to be Olympic Champion,” Nazar said. “So all these tournaments are just good experiences before that biggest dream.”

He plans to become an American citizen in summer 2013 and graduate that December. Then he hopes to move to the Olympic Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and compete in the 2016 Olympics.

fish out of water

Even off the mat, Nazar’s determination can be seen in everything he does.

At UW Oshkosh, he took a swimming class as a general education requirement for his major, human services and leadership. The class did a timed, 500-yard swim at the beginning and end to see how much they improved over the semester.

Nazar took one last glance at his old time before diving into Albee Pool. He didn’t have to beat the old time, it wouldn’t affect his grade, but he wanted to.

Minutes later he touched the pool wall in completion. He heard his classmates chatter over their improvements. Then Nazar heard his new time from Titan Swimming Coach Jon Wilson.

He was the only student who didn’t beat his old time. Without a word, Nazar got out of the water, grabbed his towel and walked away.

Later that day Wilson heard a knock at the door during the Titan Swim Team practice. He knew who it was.

“Can I try again?” Nazar asked.

“Of course,” Wilson smiled.

This time, everyone in the pool cheered him on, including the Titan Swim Team. “Go! Go! Go!” they shouted as he glided past in the water.

He again touched the pool wall. Nazar had beat his previous time by 30 seconds, an incredible feat for any training, competing swimmer, let alone a wrestler. 

off the mat

Nazar seems just the opposite of a dominant athlete off the mat. A friendly smile and bright “Hello!” always appear when he sees a friend or meets someone new.

He is still known in Ukraine for his success, and some of his fellow wrestlers are actually happy he’s left because they have a better chance to be No. 1 in the country. Nazar humbly laughs it off; he’s just happy they can be successful too.

Nazar uses Lucas Peters, 6, to explain a move during a Mat Rats practice at UW Oshkosh. Photo by Alex Beld.

For now Nazar is happy where he is, but he’s not standing still. He helps coach the Mat Rats, an Oshkosh-area youth wrestling program that uses the UW Oshkosh mats to practice. An idol to the young boys, they all want to be the best.

One boy, Lucas Peters, is somewhat of a mini-Nazar. The 6-year-old had barely any experience on a Thursday, and then Nazar gave him some tips. Lucas won a tournament that Saturday.

At a Tuesday practice, Nazar noticed another boy. “He’s hurting me!” the boy whined, his face red and eyes tired as he was held down by his opponent. Nazar chuckled from afar as he mimicked the boy under his breath; champions don’t complain.

Nazar didn’t have any idols when he was a little kid; he just wanted to be the best wrestler ever. “I just want to be who I am, and keep improving and having fun,” he said.

Someday he will open his own wrestling club and start an exchange, where he will send wrestlers to different countries to learn and train. He’s already doing the latter, and will bring UW Oshkosh wrestlers with him this summer to train in Ukraine. After, he’ll stay behind and visit his siblings and extended family.

Nazar is thankful for his family. His wish for his parents is to not have to work anymore; to be able to relax in a Jacuzzi and do nothing, he said. He wants to repay them, for he knows how lucky he is to have parents who have made such incredible sacrifices to better their child’s life and how much they support his wrestling endeavors.

Ultimately, wrestling is not just a sport to him, Nazar said. It’s a part of life. It’s molded who he is and guides him in everything he does.

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Nazar Kulchytskyy competition highlights. Produced by Noell Dickmann. 

“I could be in Ukraine right now on a farm and have nothing, and now I’m here,” Nazar said. “It’s all because of wrestling.”

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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh junior Nazar Kulchytskyy claimed the 2012 and 2013 NCAA DIII Wrestling Championship - but he's only just warming up.

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Patricia Scanlan, Ph.D.

Patricia Scanlan, Ph.D.

Patricia Scanlan, Ph.D.

Patricia Scanlan, Ph.D.
College of Education and Human Services
by Tierney Cigelske and Samantha Diersen
Student Features Reporters

finding inspiration

Frost fogged the windows of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Nursing Education building, where Dr. Patricia Scanlan, her graduate students, 10 children from 1st–4th grade and their parents were gathered for a celebration of literacy.

It may have been under 20 degrees outside, but inside, the warmth was felt as the elementary-aged students took turns reading aloud to the 30 or so people there. Each younger student was paired with a graduate student, who is working toward a master’s degree in Reading Education. For 13 weeks, they’ve spent time together exploring the world of reading and writing. Many of the elementary students had been reluctant readers, but you couldn’t tell from their smiling faces.

As she scanned the room, Scanlan’s eyes rested on the next reader, a boy named Tyler. Only 13 weeks earlier, Tyler avoiding reading. It was his least favorite part of the school day.

She looked at the third-grader, whose knees bounced up-down-up-down-up-down in anticipation for this next big step. He took his tutor by the hand, graduate student Lisa LeRoy, and together they faced the crowd.
Tyler opened his book, smiled and read the title: Looking at X-Rays. The boy looked up shyly, and turned the book so his audience could see the photographs showing X-ray pictures of a hand, a foot, and a mouthful of teeth. “Look at the hand.  Look at the foot. Look at the teeth.” He continued confidently to the last page.

As soon as he finished reading, he closed the book, grinning, soaking up the applause.

Scanlan looked on proudly. She caught LeRoy’s eye and they too exchanged smiles. They knew how big a feat that was for the young reader. He wasn’t required to read that night. None of the young students had to. He and the others all chose to. Scanlan flashed back to what Tyler said to his tutor as they wrapped up the semester. The boy exclaimed, “I love reading! I don’t have to be done, do I?”

Scanlan, an associate professor in the UW Oshkosh College of Education and Human Services, treasures such moments. “These are the rewards of teaching,” she said of that moment. “It just doesn’t get any better.”

Scanlan and schoolchildren
Patricia Scanlan chats with a student and a graduate student tutor.
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In this audio-only podcast, Patricia Scanlan talks about what attracted her to the field of teaching. Podcast produced by student features reporter Noell Dickmann.

The Principal’s Daughter

Scanlan grew up in Preston, Minn., a city of 1,500. The only child of two educators, one of whom became her high school principal, Scanlan spent much of her young life resisting the idea of becoming a teacher herself. “My reluctance to follow in my parents’ footsteps was more my attempt at ‘being my own person’ than it was anything else,” Scanlan said. “My mom and dad were fairly protective, and I wanted the freedom to do my own thing. However, I really had no idea what  ‘my own thing’ was.”

In junior high after reading a series of books, Clara Barton Student Nurse, Scanlan toyed with the idea of being a nurse–nursing and teaching were two popular options for college-bound girls at that time–but quickly abandoned that idea because of two reasons. “My gag reflex is pretty sensitive and I panic in situations that even hint of medical emergency,” she said, adding, “I was probably more drawn to Clara Barton’s love life than her work as a nurse.”

Scanlan credits her mother for instilling a lifelong love for reading. When she was in grade school, Scanlan had to read a minimum of 20 minutes every day during the summer. For young Scanlan, reading, prior to that summer, meant being placed in an average reading group, answering questions at the end of a story, and completing workbook pages. Nothing too exciting.

Something happened during that summer of reading. “The fact that what I was reading was supposed to make sense and communicate a message wasn’t something I learned until I discovered it on my own,” she said. “It was then that I found myself immersed in a book, unaware of the time and enjoying the story.”
As the principal’s daughter Scanlan felt, at times, as if she lived in a glass house. “It’s a small town, everyone knew the family, and I was the principal’s kid,” she said, adding that she was a student who was good at “doing school.”

Two high school teachers, however, forged her growing love for reading, and, in some ways, teaching.
Her English teacher, Mrs. Elsie Husom, assigned the students to read a book of their choice and then present it to the class. Scanlan and a friend read To Sir With Love by E.R. Braithwaite. Scanlan played the song of the same title sung by Lulu on a vinyl record. She and her partner used the music as an interlude between parts of the story that they acted out. Their presentation received raves from the class.

Another teacher, Mr. Frank Jaszewski, who taught U.S. History, challenged her and the students to speak with authority on a current event issue. “I remember talking against the death penalty, and feeling quite brave about it,” she said. “I know Mr. Jaszewski was for the death penalty. I didn’t care. I respected Mr. J., and I trusted he would respect my ideas. I think I got an A, or maybe an A-, on the assignment.”

While those two teachers gave Scanlan positive learning experiences, she points to her parents as the ultimate paradigm for educators. “Despite my resistance, I think I am a teacher because of my parents,” she says. “Perhaps it’s a gift I inherited from them–maybe it’s even in my DNA.”

Learning to Teach

Scanlan left Preston to attend the College of St. Teresa in Winona, Minn., about an hour away from home. After earning her elementary teaching degree, she spent 12 years teaching in Catholic schools in central Minnesota. She earned her master’s in Curriculum and Instruction at St. Cloud State University and her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. (It was at Iowa where she met future husband Michael Ford, then also a doctoral student in education. Ford is a Reading Education professor at UW Oshkosh. They are parents of Vladimer and Pavel, both 21.)

Scanlan’s first position as a teacher educator was at Mankato State University in Minnesota. After a couple of years, she went to UW–La Crosse where she taught for five years and earned tenure. Then in 1995, she joined the Reading Education faculty at UW Oshkosh where she earned tenure for the second time. Currently, Scanlan teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in reading education.

Scanlan with kids' group
Scanlan with children from the reading program.
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In this audio-only podcast, Patricia Scanlan explains why she teaches. Podcast produced by student features reporter Noell Dickmann.

The Fox Valley Writing Project

When Scanlan is not teaching future teachers, she is teaching and collaborating with teachers as the director of the Oshkosh-based Fox Valley Writing Project, which offers professional development for teachers of writing as well as leadership development for educators. This is done through summer seminars, radio broadcasts, outreach programs and meetings. The Writing Project, which is housed in the College of Education and Human Services, also hosts young writers programs.

The Fox Valley Writing Project began in 1986 as an affiliate of the National Writing Project, a collaborative network that empowers teachers to grow as writers, teachers and leaders. Nationwide, there are 200 such projects; the Oshkosh campus site is one of four in the state of Wisconsin.

Scanlan believes that the field of education is always in a state of change. To address such changes, teachers must be constantly learning, Scanlan said. Her position as the director fits in perfectly with this philosophy.

“I appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the best K-12 teachers in the Valley,” she said. “My work is always new. It gives me ongoing opportunities to study teaching, to discuss professional reading, and to write about my own experiences and practice.”

Scanlan renews her passion for teaching each time she works with teachers at the Writing Project events. “That knowledge and teacher expertise is valued,” she said. “We have a lot to learn from each other whether we are elementary teachers, or whether we’re middle school teachers or whether we’re high school teachers.”

The centerpiece of the Writing Project work is the Invitational Summer Institute, a six-credit course in which teachers become part of a professional learning community, where they write every day, read professional literature, and inquires into their own practices. “Writing Project work is about problem-solving,” she said. “It’s about asking questions; it’s about inquiry.”

Through the Writing Project, teachers can solicit help from peers about teaching challenges or curriculum changes. “Teachers are asking how they can do something differently or do something better,” Scanlan said. “We’re always in the process of supporting one another and learning from one another.”

Growing Lifelong Readers

Once a week Scanlan and her Reading 410 students head to Webster Stanley Elementary School to participate in the Lighted School House Program, which matches future teachers with elementary students for an hour. During that time they read together and play word games. “Our goal for the elementary children is to have enjoyable, individualized reading and writing experiences that enable them to take on new learning,” Scanlan said. “Our goal for the college students is to provide them with the opportunity to apply their knowledge of assessing children’s literacy development and to use the results of those assessments to plan appropriate instruction.”

Program coordinator Kaytie Storms at Webster Stanley is a big fan of Scanlan and her students’ work with the kids. “They’re gaining the experience as future teachers and our students benefit because they get extra help with school that they can’t get during the school day,” Storms said.

At each tutoring session, which is held at the school’s library, Scanlan spends her time circulating among the clusters. At one table, Scanlan watched her student work with the younger child as they took turns reading aloud. After the younger student rushed through her section, Scanlan smiled and said, “Try it again. Take your time.”

UW Oshkosh student Jill Berens sat with a kindergartner reading I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. After Berens and the young girl finished reading, they practiced writing sentences using the words they read in the book and then wrote the sentences on paper hats. Scanlan approved, saying, “Jill was still teaching her, but she was using a fun activity to do so.”

Scanlan at table
Scanlan works next to an elementary student and her gradute student tutor.
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In this audio-only podcast, Patricia Scanlan tells what she hopes students take away from her classes. Podcast produced by student features reporter Noell Dickmann.

Scanlan’s own teaching experience spanned grade-school kids to adult professionals, however she believes teaching is teaching regardless of the student’s age. “Teaching means, first of all, knowing the students–both what they can do and what they are on the brink of learning–and then providing them the support that is needed to take on new learning,” she said, adding that support can come in the form of resources, the modeling/demonstrations, the coaching, the assignments, etc. “The thing that’s especially exciting about teaching adults who are tutoring children, however, is that it’s possible to observe a parallel learning process. The adult learns and that results in the child’s learning. It’s simply amazing.”

Growing Lifelong Learners

As an educator Scanlan wishes the same thing of all of her students. “I want my students to leave my courses with the sense of the importance of literacy in their own lives, and also with the knowledge that they are lifelong learners,” she said. “Once we allow ourselves to stop learning, we inevitably lose our effectiveness as teachers.”

Student Tyler Demeny has put many of Scanlan’s lessons into his teaching practice. “Dr. Scanlan has also taught me the importance of being an approachable teacher,” said Demeny, who is both a general education and a special education major. “She has taught me the importance of talking to and listening to students and showing them I value their feedback, concerns and input.”

Scanlan is heartened when she hears student feedback like that. While she encourages her students, who are new teachers, to be confident in their newly learned skills, she also suggests they temper their confidence with a dash of humility. “I want them to recognize that they still have a lot to learn, and to know that’s OK,” Scanlan said. “Good teachers ask questions, and they are always seeking to do what’s best for kids. That means teachers need to be learners. It doesn’t stop with the baccalaureate degree.”

research matters

by Patricia Scanlan, Ph.D.

Currently I am studying the inquiry work of high school teachers who are participating in a three-year grant project (Wisconsin Improving Teaching Quality) from UW System. ELSAC (Enhancing Learning in Subject Area Classrooms) has provided professional development for content area teachers as they study how to use reading, writing, speaking, listening, and visual representations to improve students’ learning. With the support of a team of Fox Valley Writing Project teacher leaders and UW Oshkosh professors, the high school teachers have developed and implemented numerous teaching projects; they have also studied the work their students have done as a result of these projects. We are investigating the teachers’ work to learn about specific ways that literacy processes support learning in various content areas, and how the interrelationships between reading, writing, speaking, listening, and visual representations can deepen students’ understandings and their engagement.



Student Assistant Features Editor Noell Dickmann also contributed to this report.

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Frost fogged the windows of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Nursing Education building, where Dr. Patricia Scanlan, her graduate students, 10 children from 1st–4th grade and their parents were gathered for a celebration of literacy.

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Political Science 313: Comparative Genocide


Dr. Tracy Slagter 

By Eric Balkman
Student News Reporter

Assistant political science professor Dr. Tracy Hoffmann Slagter can be described as having one of the most positive, bubbly personalities of any faculty or staff member on campus. Of course, it’s only fitting that she teaches a course one of the most depressing, horrible topics on the planet: genocide

Dr. Tracy Slagter

Dr. Tracy Hoffmann Slagter, assistant political science professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. 
(Photo by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies)

Political Science 313: Comparative Genocide is a study of what qualifies as genocide, a mild study of historical genocides but above all an education to students on how to stop and prevent current and future genocides.

“There’s enough hatred to go around in this world that if we ignore these tragedies as they unfold elsewhere, we do so at our own peril,” Slagter says.

One of the most unique parts of the class is the mock trial that students put on at the end of the semester. The class is divided into three groups: One represents the prosecution, one represents the defense and the other one serves as the judges who ultimately rule on the case.

In the Fall 2009 semester, the students put the Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir on trial for genocide and other notorious crimes, and Slagter said her students did a fantastic job of conducting a trial without the aid of calling any witnesses, much less actually speaking to the defendant.

“We held (the class) in Reeve 220 so it was separate from our classroom,” Slagter says. “We borrowed graduation robes from the Chancellor’s office so that their judges could all look uniform. They all looked very professional.”

For more on Comparative Genocide, please click on the podcast below. This audio-only interview is conducted by multimedia student news reporter Eric Balkman.


Setting the Course Podcast Tracy Slagter

Dr. Tracy Hoffman Slagter displays one of the most positive personalities of any faculty member on campus while teaching one the most depressing topics on the planet: genocide.

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Prison from Inside Out


Prison header

Photo composite by Shawn McAfee

by Grace Lim
COLS Special Reports

 Taycheeda winter

Taycheedah: Wisconsin's largest maximum and medium security prison for women and the site for an innovative University of Wisconsin Oshkosh class that brings inmates and students together as peers.

No Judgment Zone

In a place where all residents had been judged and sentenced, there is one room in the Taycheedah Correctional Institution where judgment is checked at the door. This is the room where 10 female inmates and 10 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students came together to learn alongside each other with the help of their instructor, Dr. Carmen Heider.

The class -- officially listed as a Communication/Women's Studies 316 -- is part of the national  Inside-Out Prison Exchange program that brings college students together with incarcerated people to study as peers behind prison walls. And behind these walls, the students discuss issues of crime and justice. Heider's class, which took place in Fall 2009, was the first Inside-Out program held in Wisconsin. The national program is based out of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa.

Heider says she was attracted to the program because of the working-and-learning-as-peers element. "What made me really excited about Inside-Out was the idea that that it was for an entire semester and that it wasn't a group of university students and a university professor going into a prison for a day or two," Heider says, adding that such short visits often make inmates feel like research subjects.

In this course,  the inmates are enrolled as UW Oshkosh students and receive three credit hours upon completion. The program is co-sponsored by UW Oshkosh, the Department of Communication, the Women's Studies Program and the Taycheedah Correctional Institution. Taycheedah, which is based in Fond du Lac, is the largest women's maximum and medium security prison in Wisconsin holding more than 600 incarcerated women.

To establish an egalitarian and respectful environment, Heider asked the students to refer each group as "Inside" students or "Outside" students. She also required her "Outside" students to wait until their weekly class at Taycheedah to ask questions because then "everybody had the same expectations and the same limitations."

The Outside students also are not told of their Inside classmates' crimes. Lori Pompa, founder and national director of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, says such information is not relevant to the class. "A major part of the philosophy of our program is that it is an opportunity for people on both sides of the prison wall to come together to learn as equals," she says. The withholding of such information, Pompa says, allows the students who are incarcerated to be defined "as students with abilities and assets, rather than the usual bottom-line description as liabilities, defined by one of the worst moments in their lives."


In an interview with COLS Special Reports Producer Grace Lim, Dr. Carmen Heider, an associate professor in the Department of Communication, and other participants of Wisconsin's first Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program share how this class transformed the way they view themselves and the world.


The video is also available for download to your iPod through UW Oshkosh iTunesU (requires iTunes).


Erasing Stereotypes

Heider says it was understandable for some of her Outside students to come with preconceived notions about prisoners and prison life. "If we don't know anybody in prison, we have an image of what a prisoner looks like, and it's often a monster or somebody less than human," she says.

Ambrer McCormick
Amber McCormick

Amber McCormick, one of the Outside students, says, "I did go in there having a certain stereotypical view of what an inmate would be like, but I came out to find that I was very wrong, which is a good thing."

McCormick, who is a senior majoring in speech communication, credits the course for transforming the way she views the world. "I got the opportunity, the rare opportunity, to go inside and really see what it's like to be in there," she says. "It wasn't a second-hand view or a media portrayal of it. It really made me guess how I view everything."

Her views on people in prison definitely changed, she says. "It's easy to sit in  your living room and to see someone, an offender, pop up on the (TV) screen and just say, 'Just send them to jail,'" McCormick says. "I think incarceration, in general, is a very, very small Band-Aid on a very big and slow-healing wound in America."

Sharing a laugh

Sharing a laugh: Dr. Carmen Heider (second from right) visits with her Inside students (from left to right) Jessica Wyman, Kristine Frankiewicz and Brenda Mick.

Inside student Brenda Mick said the course gave her a sense of self-worth. "The biggest thing I got out of this class was to know that just because I'm here doesn't make me a bad person, that I am still a good person," she says. "(The class) gave me the motivation and the strength to know that when I get out that I can do better and lead a fulfilling life."

Fellow Inside student Jessica Wyman echos Mick's sentiments. "Society automatically thinks that criminals are bad, that we don't want to do better," she says. "This class really showed people that we're not that different from the people on the outside. We just made poor choices."

Wyman, who aspires to be an electrician, says she'll leave Taycheedah with college credits. "This is the best thing that I've ever done," she says. "My dad is, like, all happy."

She laughs. "He's never happy, so that's good."

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In a place where all residents had been judged and sentenced, there is one room in the Taycheedah Correctional Institution where judgment is checked at the door.

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R. Shelly Lancaster

R. Shelly Lancaster

photo of R. Shelly Lancaster

By Morgan Counts
Student Multimedia Reporter

being an inspiration

In a pit class full of sleepy college students, R. Shelly Lancaster commands the room. Her voice loud and fearless, she asks the students, “Do you know how you are supposed to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner”? Are you supposed to be quiet or sing along?” A simple question, but every student seems to be sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for her answer.
One student suggests a polite silence. Lancaster shakes her head. Not in her world. She answers her own question with as much force as a gospel pastor delivering a sermon, “No, you are supposed to sing it at the top of your lungs. You have to sing it like you mean it!”

Lancaster 3
Dr. R. Shelly Lancaster at the Global Hospital and Health City in Chennai, India, holding the son of a local nurse with whom she has become friends.  
With that, Lancaster has everyone’s undivided attention. The large lecture hall is full of nursing students at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and Lancaster is volunteering her time to share her experiences as a medic in the Air Force. She explains what the national anthem means to her and how she still gets emotional when she hears Whitney Houston’s version of the anthem from the 1991 Super Bowl, performed right after the United States entered the Gulf War, when Lancaster herself was stationed in Germany.
Although she is not teaching this particular class, these students are learning, learning from someone who was once in their place, listening and looking for guidance and inspiration.

Every step in Lancaster’s life, from her decision to join the Air Force to going for her Ph.D. and becoming a nursing professor, is marked with a significant person, a person who inspired her to try something new, to take the next step. She says these people saw something in her that she never saw and inspired her to believe in herself, and it started from the day she was born.

To read the entire story, please down the R. Shelly Lancaster PDF.












Video Podcasts 


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R. Shelly Lancaster teaches future nurses at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. As she guides her students to become nursing professionals, she never forgets those who've guided her in the past.

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Rebekah Peppler

Rebekah Peppler was tapped in March 2011 as Food Editor for Tasting Table, a daily email delivering the best of food and drink culture to adventurous eaters everywhere. She lives in New York City.


Peppler header

From the Classroom to the Big Apple

by Katie Holliday
COLS Special Reports Intern

Baking as Therapy

Rebekah Peppler is without a doubt at home in her mother’s kitchen in Oshkosh. Her movements practiced and sure, she mixes the batter for her newest creation -- pumpkin cupcakes.  On the counter behind her are chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt and a few freshly baked hazelnut butter cookies.

Peppler cake

State of Cake: Rebekah Peppler, B.A. Journalism 08', at the French Culinary Institute in New York City.

“It’s kitchen therapy,” Peppler says. “Anytime life gets overwhelming or if it’s simply been a long day, I head to the kitchen to recollect and re-center.”

These days baking is not solely done as a stress reducer for Peppler. Less than two years after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Peppler found a way to combine her passion for pastry arts and writing into a new career. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 2008 and, in 2009, graduated with a degree in the classic French pastry arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City.

Now living in New York City, Peppler is working as a researcher for CBS News Productions on a project for the upcoming Scripps Cooking Channel. In addition, she works as a researcher and production assistant for New York producer Lauren Deen and Cake Productions. She also freelances as a food stylist for print and television and works as a writer, photographer, recipe developer and pastry expert for several popular food sites including, the Web site for Saveur, an award-winning food and travel magazine, and, an affiliate of Food Network.  Peppler is the founder of Hungry Eyes, a blog featuring her own recipes, stories and photography. Additionally, she is a recurring guest as the featured pastry chef on Wisconsin’s Fox 11 Living with Amy.

A Solid Education

Peppler’s success in the world of food production and writing can be attributed to her combined educations in journalism and the French pastry arts.

Peppler photograph

An eye for food: Peppler snaps shots of her own kitchen creations.

“The education I received at UW Oshkosh has significantly helped me in all aspects of what I’m doing now,” she says. “For example, I edit most of my own pieces…so I not only have to make sure it sounds beautiful, it has to be technically perfect. That’s where my degree in news/editorial journalism comes into play.”

UW Oshkosh was a clear choice for Peppler. “I went to Oshkosh West High School, and at that time…you could go to the university and take free classes,” she says. She took full advantage of the opportunity to explore what the University had to offer by taking a myriad of classes in journalism, art history, anthropology and radio, TV and film. Peppler soon discovered that UW Oshkosh had much more to offer than just a variety of intriguing courses.

“The professors were beyond helpful. You could go in, pull up a chair and talk to them about whatever was going on, in class and out,” she says. "[They] care deeply about what they're doing and where their students are headed."

The dedicated and experienced instructors Peppler found at UW Oshkosh as a high school student further cemented her decision to continue there as a journalism major, with minors in art history and English creative writing.

Into the Kitchen
Heart Cake

A Sweet Heart: Peppler, a food stylist, writer and photographer,  creates a tasty treat.

While still enrolled at UW Oshkosh, Peppler contemplated graduate degrees in journalism and art history, but her mind always wandered toward culinary school. However, Peppler didn't embrace the culinary arts as a hobby, or as a possible career path until a particularly high-stress day in high school. Her mother suggested she bake cookies to relax, an act that would remain an escape and later develop into a career.

During college, Peppler landed her first experience in a professional kitchen when Mark Vaccaro, then chef and owner of Fusion by Mark in Fond du Lac, Wis., offered her a position as house manager and server. Before and after her shifts, Peppler would throw on a chef’s jacket, making desserts and trying her hand in the kitchen.

She helped plate dishes on the hot line and worked the garde manger (salad and dessert) station.  The high-stress, time-critical tasks left her yearning for a calmer assignment.

"I think I lasted a month,” she says of her hot line experience. “[Chef Mark] knew from the start that I wasn't meant for the culinary side. I’m meant for the quieter, more focused and detail-oriented pastry aspect of the kitchen.”

In September 2008, Peppler headed for the French Culinary Institute in New York City to study classic French pastry arts and take a short focused course on food writing with national award-winning food writer Alan Richman.

Juggling Jobs
Rebekah and Amy

TV Ready: Rebekah Peppler shows off her culinary skills on Wisconsin Fox 11 Living with Amy Show.

These days, Peppler is juggling her multiple jobs as production assistant and researcher for the two television production companies. Among her duties are writing, editing, revising and reviewing scripts, laying out episode segments, researching, scouting talent and acting as an on-set production assistant. Before and after her production workday, she writes, develops, tests and photographs recipes for her various freelance positions. What free time she has, she devotes to her own writing, photography, food styling and television appearances.

“I’m a busy girl, but my time at UW Oshkosh taught me the art of multitasking,” Peppler says. “The fact that my two passions – writing/editing and pastry arts - thrive on meticulous attention to detail makes organizing my life a little more manageable. Plus, I get a perverse pleasure from having everything line up perfectly.”

During a recent brief visit to Oshkosh in February, Peppler made another appearance on Wisconsin’s Fox 11 Living with Amy. As always when she’s back home in Oshkosh, she finds herself in her mother’s kitchen. "I think being able to combine two educations and make a career path out of them gives me an edge," she says as the spice-filled aroma of freshly baked cupcakes fills the kitchen and she moves to make the maple cream cheese frosting. "It's just incredible that I was able to get two highly distinguished degrees and put them both to work every single day."

Photo composition by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Media Services.


In this video, Rebekah Peppler, B.A. Journalism '08, talks about her journey from the classroom to the Big Apple and how she is applying what she has learned at UW Oshkosh in her new career.

The video is also available for download to your iPod through UW Oshkosh iTunesU (requires iTunes).





In the following videos, Rebekah Peppler was the featured pastry chef on Wisconsin Fox 11 Living with Amy. The shows aired on Feb. 12, 2010 and Dec. 3, 2009.








Hungry Eyes

Rebekah Peppler's Flickr Photostream

Rebekah Peppler's articles in

PattyCake Baking Co.

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Rebekah Peppler is without a doubt at home in her mother’s kitchen in Oshkosh. Her movements practiced and sure, she mixes the batter for her newest creation -- pumpkin cupcakes.

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Ryan Steiskal

Ryan Steiskal

UW Oshkosh art student Ryan Steiskal

By Noell Dickmann
Student Multimedia Reporter

Leaving Dinosaur Prints

Like any budding artist, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh senior Ryan Steiskal had always hoped his artwork would someday gain widespread attention, but he never expected it would happen within the course of his college career.

A fortuitous encounter with a professor resulted in Steiskal’s artwork being featured on the Discovery Channel website, MSNBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

While on campus over summer, Steiskal ran into art professor Gail Panske and showed her some of the pieces he’d been working on. Little did he know, Panske knew another professor who was looking for an art student to create dinosaur illustrations for a paleontological study on dinosaur behavior. 

Panske recommended Steiskal to Dr. Joseph Peterson, assistant professor in the geology department. Peterson could have gone to a professional dinosaur artist, or paleo-artist, but he wanted this art project to be a learning experience, not just another gig for the illustrator. “I wanted someone who would learn from the science, and then put those facts into their work,” Peterson said. 

When creating dinosaur illustrations, or paleo-art, paleo-artists rely on what is known to science to frame their reconstructions, and then they add their own touches to bring the animals to life, Peterson said. But he felt for this particular dinosaur, the pachycephalosaurus, which had only been known to science through fossils, the artist should be someone who didn’t have any previous experience.

Steiskal started the project not with pen and paper, but with a camera. He studied fossils and casts and took many pictures of them, then used his imagination to fill in the blanks, he said. “It feels like you’re almost working for a CSI,” Steiskal said.

Head Hitting size 500

 Two pachycephalosaurs hitting heads, created by Ryan Steiskal.

The first illustration of two pachycephalosaurs crashing into each others’ heads was finished over the span of a few days. Peterson was blown away at how well the artwork demonstrated the results of his study.

When he got the image, Peterson immediately contacted his co-author, student Collin Dischler, who is a senior studying geology at UW Oshkosh, and said, “Ryan did it.THIS is how pachycephalosaurs used their heads!”

As a professional in the paleontology field, Peterson has high hopes for Steiskal’s work. “My hope is that this will give Ryan and his talents the attention they deserve, and that the work he is producing for us will be the image scientists see when they think of dinosaurs such as pachycephalosaurs,” Peterson said.

The illustration was shown at the UW Oshkosh Dean’s Symposium in September, where Peterson was a featured speaker, and showcased in Raleigh, N.C., where Peterson’s study was featured Oct. 17 at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP).

Next it will be submitted for peer-review and publication to the scientific journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica and last - but certainly not least - the Discovery Channel, which features a story and the artwork on its news website, Discovery News.

Peterson said The Discovery News article has been picked up by a variety of other news outlets worldwide, including MSNBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Steiskal's artwork is featured in all versions of the article.

Peterson’s research has also been featured in Nature News, Scientific American and others.

Jennifer Viegas, the reporter for Discovery News who wrote the article featuring Steiskal’s artwork, was impressed with the drawings . “The image has a unique 3D quality to it, given the angles of the dinosaurs' bodies,” Viegas said. “That makes it even more compelling.”

Steiskal had no idea his drawings would garner such attention and is gratified to have had the opportunity to showcase his skills.  “I feel like I’m transitioning from the art student to a professional,” Steiskal said.

Hip Hitting size 700
Two pachycephalosaurs hitting hips, created by Ryan Steiskal

To access the article on Discovery News, please click this link:

To access the article on MSNBC, please click this link:

To access the article on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website, please click this link:

In this audio podcast, student multimedia reporter Noell Dickmann sits down with Ryan Steiskal to discuss what it’s like to be in the shoes of a paleo-artist.
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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh senior Ryan Steiskal created artwork of dinosaurs that had been unseen to science - until now.

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Scholarship and Achievements

Scholarship and Achievements

cover of Endeavors magazine Spring 2012

The following are the lists of achievements of the faculty and instructional academic staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The lists, which are in PDF format, are divided by Colleges. Please note, information was provided by academic departments. Achievements included were those taking place between June 2010 and May 2011, excluding forthcoming publications, book/cd reviews, blogs, panel chairs/facilitators, Wisconsin conferences, and collaborative research grants. If there are errors or omissions, we apologize. 


PDF of College of Letters and Science Achievements

PDF of College of Business Achievements

PDF of College of Nursing

PDF of College of Education and Human Services


Endeavors faculty profiles can be found here.  


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Endeavors magazine is proud to highlight the many achievements of the faculty and instructional academic staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

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Scholarship and Achievements

Scholarship and Achievements

Photo of Endeavors Cover

The list is in PFD format. Please note, information was provided by academic departments. Achievements included were those taking place between June 2011 and May 2012, excluding forthcoming publications, book/cd reviews, blogs, panel chairs/facilitators, Wisconsin conferences, and UW Oshkosh Student/Faculty Collaborative Research grants. If there are errors or omissions, we apologize.

PDF of Scholarship and Achievements 

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The following is the list of achievements of the faculty and instructional academic staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Read This Story …

Scholarship and Achievements 2014

Scholarship and Achievements 2014

photo of Endeavors 2014 cover

The following are the lists of achievements of the faculty and instructional academic staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Please note, information was provided by academic departments. Achievements included were those taking place between June 2012 and May 2013, excluding forthcoming publications, book/cd reviews, blogs, panel chairs/facilitators, Wisconsin conferences, and collaborative research grants. If there are errors or omissions, we apologize. 

PDF of Achievements

PDF of the Endowments and Teaching Awards

Endeavor faculty profiles can be found here.

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Endeavors magazine is proud to highlight the many achievements of the faculty and instructional academic staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

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Scott Beyer

by Morgan Counts

Student Multimedia Reporter

life lessons in the classroom

If there’s one thing more challenging than learning about risk management and insurance regulations, it could be teaching it. Keeping students engaged in finance classes is no easy task. That is why in the middle of reviewing for the final exam in Risk Management and Insurance at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Scott Beyer tells the story of his college friend who took Beyer’s dad’s car on an off-road joyride and ended up in jail. The lesson? The difference between primary and secondary insurance.

Beyer, a professor of finance and insurance for UW Oshkosh’s College of Business, tries to find ways to make his students excited about the content of his courses.

Beyer 2
Dr. Scott Beyer with daughter, Anna, at the 2012 French Open in Paris.
“Dr. Beyer did an excellent job of keeping students engaged in the material through real-world case studies that got the students involved,” said Bryce Gannon, a senior at UW Oshkosh majoring in finance, with a minor in risk management and insurance. Gannon took both Commercial Risk Management and Advanced Risk Management with Beyer. “He is well-connected in the community, so he brought in a wide array of professionals to talk about their roles in risk management.”

In addition to bringing outside insight into the classroom, Beyer also uses popular culture to pull his students back into an otherwise dense lecture.

“I’ll see a video from a movie or a clip from “The Simpsons” that refers to something in finance,” he said. “It may be a joke, but it could start a good discussion. That 20 seconds, even if I’m just referencing the video, can bring everybody back in just like that, and all of a sudden I have a fresh window where they’re still engaged.”

Beyer knows how important his role is in motivating students to learn more. Although he has a Ph.D. in finance from the University of Missouri, he wasn’t always an enthusiastic learner.

 To read the entire story, please down the Scott Beyer PDF.

Video Podcasts

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If there’s one thing more challenging than learning about risk management and insurance regulations, it could be teaching it. That is why in the middle of reviewing for a final exam, Scott Beyer tells the story of his college friend who took Beyer’s dad’s car on an off-road joyride and ended up in jail.

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Stoking the Fire

Stoking the Fire

Stoking the Fire


Teresa Lind

by Kristen Manders and Grace Lim

 Fired Up on Art

page 1 image 1

Teaching with Fire: Student pour master Kelley Gierach (l) and sculpture instructor Teresa Lind (r) get ready to light  the furnace for the bronze pour. Photo by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.


Cast Iron Demo
What: Make Your Own Iron Cast Tile Art
Where: behind the Kolf Sports Center by the UW Oshkosh Aquatics Research Center
When: Saturday, April 9 From 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The furnace will be lit at noon and the pour will be at 1 p.m.
Cost: $12/Students; $15/others/per tile
Contact: Anna Olson at

In Teresa Lind's Advanced Sculpture class, students are taught to respect the power of the flame, especially during a metal pour when the liquid bronze gets upwards of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

At a December pour, the heat is oppressive in the foundry, which is located in the basement of the Arts and Communication building at UW Oshkosh.

The pour team gets ready for a sauna-like, yet profound, experience. Lind, who has taught in the Department of Art since 2007, keeps a close watch over the operation. The pour is run like a well-oiled Broadway production. Everyone has a role and everyone must be in sync. Unlike a play, however, a misstep in a metal pour could mean a trip to the ER.

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 Feeling the Heat: Teresa Lind and student pour master Kelley Gierach prepare the crucible full of liquid bronze. Photo by Shawn McAfee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.

Pour master, Kelley Gierach, takes a torch to light the furnace that would heat solid bricks of bronze to liquid. Intense heat fills the room only minutes after the fire ignited. Students opens a large door to the furnace, heat radiating out of it like everyone in the room had stepped in to an oven. The ceramic molds made by advanced sculpting students are placed in the kiln to prepare to be filled with bronze.

Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine artists and the effort they put in to creating a thought-provoking piece of art. Donning a fire-resistant suit, student Caitlin Leu help pour the liquid bronze in to models that were casted by her and her classmates.

The work that Leu puts in to her work is well worth the literal blood, sweat and tears that go in to working in the foundry and melting down metal. In this pour, Leu burns the front of her sweatshirt, but isn’t upset because she gets to show her concept to others.

On April 16, Lind and her students will be showing off their casting skills at a community cast iron art demonstration. Those who wish to make a iron tile will be able to carve their own design into a block of sand; the art students will pour the iron and cast the tiles.


In this video interview, UW Oshkosh art instructor Teresa Lind talks about her love of the metal pour and how that act of pouring empowers her students. The interview was shot by Wayne Abler of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies and conducted by COLS Special Reports producer Grace Lim.




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In Teresa Lind's Advanced Sculpture class, students are taught to respect the power of the flame. The pour team gets ready for a sauna-like, yet profound, experience.

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