Author Archive for oehmeg09

What Does Graduation Mean To Me?

Gordana OehmenGraduation is only few weeks away, and I am getting excited.  I will finally graduate with my degree in Liberal Studies with a Leadership Development major.  It has been a long road that at times, was rather difficult. Yet, here I am. I have made through the American college. I survived all those late night study sessions and final exams.

The most significant thing that graduation means to me is that I learned a lot about myself.  When I immigrated to the U.S., I went through an extreme identity change.  I was separated from my old way of life, my family, my friends, and my city. I lost the country where I grew up, went to school and lived forty five years of my life. I lost a social status, personal identity, and ability to operate effectively in the environment.  The transition was painful, but enrolling at UW Oshkosh helped me understand those pains and opened the door for my transition.  Throughout my educational journey I discovered that I formed a new identity, new values and new attitudes. I was able to overcome painful obstacles of transition, find peace with myself and resettle comfortably in my new country.

As a nontraditional student in my late fifties, I did not have any expectations prior to my courses.  I simply wanted to get over them and get my B.A. as quickly as possible.  I did not anticipate that I would, to my surprise, like some classes, and that those classes will affect my personal and intellectual growth. My educational journey at UWO has shown me that I, indeed, have what it takes to pursue my dreams and achieve my goals.

But graduation also means no more online classes, discussions on D2L, papers, and reading boring books; no more late nights; no more balancing between assigned readings, family, and work.  No more “wire walking.”

When I walk in the 139th Commencement of the University of Oshkosh on May I will hold my head high because I did something great.

I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.  ~Author Unknown

Gordana Oehmen is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Leadership Development student from Oshkosh, Wis. Oehmen is originally from Belgrade, Serbia, and came to the United States in 1999. Oehmen also earned three credits for her prior learning in project planning, and six credits in foreign language.

Financial Aid Strategies for Nontraditional Students

Gordana OehmenGordana Oehmen is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Leadership Development student from Oshkosh, Wis. Oehmen is originally from Belgrade, Serbia, and came to the United States in 1999. Oehmen also earned three credits for her prior learning in project planning, and six credits in foreign language.

Going to college and finding a way to pay for it is a concern for many nontraditional students.    Many of us may think that our financial aid options are limited, but they are not. There are many financial aid options available.

The majority of aid for students comes through the federal government in the form of loans, grants and work study, and it is NOT restricted by our age. Wisconsin also offers a wide variety of general grants and scholarships for its residents who are enrolled at a state supported college or university.

To determine your eligibility, you must first fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The form can be found at uwosh.edu/fin_aid/. The UW Oshkosh Financial Aid Office can also help you fill out the form if you find it confusing.

The FAFSA form is especially important to fill out if you are a nontraditional student, since more of your aid is going to come from the government. Federal loans generally have much lower costs (in terms of interest rates) than private ones.

You should also consider scholarships. Many of us think that if we cannot maintain a high point average (to meet some scholarship requirements) why bother, but if you are willing to work hard you may win a scholarship. Information on scholarships can be found on UWO Financial Aid website uwosh.edu/fin_aid/.

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement programs. Before I returned to school two years ago to finish the remainder of my classes, I checked with the human resources department at my job about tuition reimbursement. My employer offers this program and I took the advantage of it. The employer pays my tuition.The reimbursement is based on my grades, and I must maintain A’s or B’s to be fully reimbursed.

Not sure where to find detailed information about financial aid?  The UWO Financial Aid Office is great resource. You can either stop by and talk with the financial aid counselor or visit their website at uwosh.edu/fin_aid/.

What we should not do? We should not borrow more than we need. It may be tempting to borrow more for our living costs, but this will make it more difficult for us to repay the debt after we graduate.

Path to Success – The Journey of Nontraditional Student

Gordana OehmenGordana Oehmen is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Leadership Development student from Oshkosh, Wis. Oehmen is originally from Belgrade, Serbia, and came to the United States in 1999. Oehmen also earned three credit for her prior learning in project planning, and six credits in foreign language.

Hello there. My name is Gordana Oehmen and I am a new LLCE blogger.

When we returned to the college, we knew that being a nontraditional student would not be easy. Juggling between family, work and school requires exceptional dedication and persistence. I believe the LLCE blog is great opportunity for nontraditional students to share their experiences with other nontrads.

I was born in the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in the mid-50s. Life was good until the early 1990s when dramatic and violent changes took place. Nationalism replaced communism. Religion played its role in those conflicts, too. As an employee of the American embassy in Belgrade I was witnessing the disappearance of my country—and sometimes, due to the nature of my job, I contributed to it.

My journey began fifteen years ago when my family and I fled our hometown of Belgrade during the Kosovo war. We arrived in Oshkosh on Nov. 17, 1999. My family and I were sponsored by a Catholic church in Oshkosh. Members of the church were very helpful, and therefore we were able to resettle quickly.

I did not know much about the difficulties and struggles that the first generation of immigrants goes through when they arrive in the U.S. I learned very quickly that I have to forget where I came from, what I did there, and start the life from the scratch. Even though I had gone to college and had a good job in Serbia, I knew I needed to go to the college. In order for me to get better paid job and advance in my career field I needed an American education.

While struggling to adjust to a new environment and new way of life, I took a high school equivalency test and passed eight exams that I needed to start college as a foreign citizen in the United states. I earned my associate degree from UW Oshkosh in May 2006, and I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Liberal Studies Leadership Development online degree program. I plan to graduate in May of this year.

I remember sometimes thinking that this journey will never end—late nights spent studying or writing papers; weekend afternoons spent balancing between my family and my assigned readings; it felt like wire walking across the Niagara Falls. I am sure that most of you felt the same way at times.

I am firm believer that continuing education is a key to personal growth and career success. I think if we want to get ahead in our lives, we need to pay the price with hard work, dedication and persistence.


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