Outstanding & Distinguished Alumni

Each year, the Alumni Association at UW Oshkosh honors graduates by awarding them one of two alumni awards at homecoming. Several International Studies graduates have received these awards, which honor their professional careers and their civic involvement.

  • The Distinguished Alumni Award — The highest award that alumni can receive from the association. It is awarded to individuals who are active in their professional fields and are widely recognized for their career accomplishments.
  • The Outstanding Young Alumni Award — Awarded to alumni who have graduated within the last 15 years. Selection is based on professional and civic accomplishments and future promise.


Award Recipients

Brian Rettmann, ’97

Distinguished Alumni, 2018
Outstanding Young Alumni, 2004

About Brian

Brian Rettmann of Washington, D.C. is program manager of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT), Population Services International Guyana in South America. Rettmann is a native of West Bend.

He earned a bachelor’s degree with majors in International Studies and Religious Studies from UW Oshkosh in 1997.

For VCT, Rettmann negotiates arrangements to establish AIDS testing and treatment centers throughout Guyana. His duties include directing programs to change attitudes as a way to prevent the spread of AIDS.

Before joining VCT, Rettmann worked in Botswana to promote regional cooperation among country regulators and service providers. He developed the Southern Africa Telecommunications Regulation Newsletter.

Rettmann first became active in helping combat AIDS in Botswana, the nation wit the highest AIDS infection rate in the world. He also worked for Gifts in Kind International in Washington, D.C.

Rettmann’s wife, Marialyce Mutchler, earned the Outstanding Young Alumni award in 2002.

After returning to the United States, Brian entered the Master of Public Health Program at the Rollins School of Health at Emory University in the Fall of 2005.

Learn more about Brian in UWO Today’s feature story

Chad Damro, ’95

Outstanding Young Alumni, 2006

About Chad

Chad Damro received a bachelor’s degree in international studies and political science at UW Oshkosh in 1995, a master’s in international relations at Syracuse University in 1997, and his doctorate in political science from University of Pittsburgh in 2002.

He is a lecturer in international politics and co-director of the Master of Science Program in International and European Politics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the United Kingdom. He teaches courses about the European Union and trans-Atlantic relations. He has published scholarly articles in prestigious journals, including Journal of European Public Policy; European Journal of International Relations; European Foreign Affairs Review; Environmental Politics; and Environment and Planning.

Damro also has presented scholarly papers at conferences throughout Europe, and guest-lectured at several universities. He is completing the manuscript of his forthcoming book, Cooperating on Competition: The Politics of Dispute Prevention in Transatlantic Competition Policy, which will be published by Palgrave Publisher, London.

Bret Bergst, ’95, ’99

Outstanding Young Alumni, 2003

About Bret

Bret Bergst began working at the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington, DC, as a temporary employee in November 1999. In September 2000 he became coordinator of its Ecosystems, Protected Areas and Peoples (EPP) project. Now a research associate with the project, he works closely with a consortium of non-governmental organizations from around the world developing a global learning network for park and protected area managers and policy makers.

Bret’s work is three-fold. First, he is working with the EPP project team to develop an interactive web portal that offers a framework for providing resources intended to bolster the professional capacity of park managers. The site, www.parksnet.org, will enable managers, policy makers, and allied professionals around the world to exchange information, share their successes and failures, learn about training opportunities, and thus develop a body of knowledge on managing protected areas.

Second, he is working with a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop a common position on protected areas policy for the negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which involves some 190 countries and recognizes parks and protected areas covering 13 percent of the earth’s land surface. The NGOs in the group will act as central providers of information, expertise and training for governments trying to meet their treaty obligations.

Finally, Bret works with the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and one of its commissions called the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), through which he researches protected management and policy, and reports findings at international conferences.

Despite regularly traveling around the globe, Bret has remained active in the Model United Nations as a volunteer staff member. Since graduating he has served on staff at the Midwest and National Model UN conferences and has been a presenter for the annual United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA) Model UN Summit. Only accomplished student delegates are invited to volunteer for these positions after graduation.

Marialyce Mutchler, ’95

Outstanding Young Alumni, 2002

About Marialyce

Marialyce Mutchler oversees the procurement, recruitment, hiring and training of personnel for a U.S.A.I.D. program that promoted democracy in Indonesia .

She arrived in Indonesia immediately after the first democratic elections were held there in 1999.

Her work assignments at Chemonics International have taken her to three African countries – Botswana, Uganda and South Africa; and three Asian countries – India, the Philippines and Indonesia. Chemonics is one of the largest contractors for the U.S. Agency for International Development, the division of the State Department that supervises U.S. development assistance programs abroad.

Mutchler started working at Chemonics in 1998 after she left her job at Oshkosh B’Gosh where she was a license services coordinator of the international department.

The best part about the job is “traveling to our project sites and meeting the people who are helped by our work,” she said.

Mike Hammarlund, ’94

Outstanding Young Alumni, 2006

About Mike

Mike Hammarlund received a bachelor’s degree in international studies and political science at UW Oshkosh in 1994. As a legal assistant in the firm of Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio, he is a member of the legal team in complex litigation in high-value and high-profile, corporate cases involving federal and international regulations and intellectual property rights in global firms functioning in many nations with differing regulations.

Hammarlund’s work involves highly technical legal research, preparation of materials used in complex cases and case strategy, as well as witness preparation and client relations. In addition to serving as a legal researcher, Hammarlund recently became the supervisor of legal support for the entire firm. He now supervises 85 paralegals and legal researchers who support the firm’s 370 lawyers.

Jennifer Hammarlund, ’94

Outstanding Young Alumni, 2001

About Jennifer

Jennifer (Richey) Hammarlund is a syndications associate in the Bank Loan Syndication Department of National City Corp., the nation’s ninth largest bank holding company with assets of $94.4 billion.

In the short time since Jennifer Richey Hammarlund graduated from UW Oshkosh, she’s had two distinct and equally successful careers. A 1994 alumna of UW Oshkosh who majored in international studies, she was one of four named 2001 Outstanding Young Alumni. Hammarlund said she fully intended to stay in international studies until she moved to Washington, D.C.

“ Washington D.C. has a lot of well-educated people. When I worked at Chemonics, most people in the position I held had master’s degrees and significant experience abroad, even though it wasn’t necessary to do the job. There was a ceiling I couldn’t crack without going back to school. I decided to pursue an MBA rather than a master’s in development because of the versatility it offered.”

Hammarlund went on to get her MBA at the University of Maryland. She graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA, especially impressive since she had her first child as she began her graduate studies.

Once she graduated she and her husband made the difficult decision to return to the Midwest and become closer to family. So she was one of 21 graduates to enter National City’s management development program. She is now part of National City’s Bank Loan Syndications Department where she has worked on approximately $1 billion in syndicated loan transactions.

“The company is very family-friendly, and that was clear during my interviews,” Hammarlund said. “Everyone was so professional, yet people talked about their kids. That was a big issue for me since I wanted to be a good professional and a good mother.”

At National City, Hammarlund works with clients to meet the senior debt financing needs of companies in manufacturing, retail, leasing and service industries.

Hammarlund attributes much of her success to the education she received at UW Oshkosh and to her work on the Model UN team.

“In classes like Contemporary International Issues and Revolution and Development, Dr. (Kenneth) Grieb focused people on absorbing information and analyzing it. In Model UN, we wrote position papers of no more than one page on specific issues. These experiences enabled me to identify the most pertinent facts, synthesize information and present it in a concise and persuasive manner. What I have learned from Dr. Grieb has been invaluable to my professional career and I highly recommend his classes and Model UN to business as well as international studies students. Everyone can benefit from understanding diplomacy and negotiation.”

She definitely benefited, as this anecdote illustrates: A public company that leases technology equipment was trying to reinvent themselves as a business-to-business e-commerce company. But the company wasn’t giving the same message in its annual report and press releases.

“Anyone looking to invest in the company would have no clue what their strategy was,” she said. “And bankers won’t lend money if the business can’t articulate.”

So Hammarlund took all their information and synthesized it in a way that was logical and easy to understand. The officers of the company were so impressed that they offered her a job in front of her boss.

Hammarlund said she has no intentions to leave National City, but she does hope to advance within the organization. “ National City has started a talent assessment where every year managers look at people in their department and determine what positions would be appropriate for them in both the short- and long-term. I am told there are plans for me that I don’t know about yet. My concern today is to contribute at the bank based on my skills, and be challenged and learn.”

During her career at National City Corporation, Jennifer Hammarlund has worked in the Loan Syndications Group, in Debt Capital Markets, and as a relationship manager in the Structured Finance Group. She was named Manager of the Cleveland Credit Department, and served on the credit committee for middle market clients.

In April 2003, Jennifer Hammarlund was named Vice President and Manager of Investor Relations at National City Corporation, stepping into a senior management role at the Bank. In this capacity she serves as the primary contact for analysts, institutional investors, and individual shareholders.

Patrick Sheehy, ’93

Outstanding Young Alumni, 2000

About Patrick

Patrick Sheehy earned his bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science from UW Oshkosh.

Two weeks before graduation, he realized he wanted to work on Capitol Hill.

“I wanted to find out how Congress worked and what made it tick,” Sheehy explained. So, 10 days after graduation, he packed his belongings and drove East to our nation’s capital.

Two jobs and several promotions later, Sheehy has come a long way i his quest to understand what drives the gears of government. He uses that knowledge to his dvantage as manager of state legislative affairs at the National Restaurant Association.

He first worked with Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, as a case-worker before he was promoted to legislative correspondent and then to legislative assistant. He helped constituencies interact with the federal government, dealing with everything from servicemen requesting early discharges to people having problems with Social Security checks. He answered mail on legislative issues and kept Petri informed of the status of bills.

“It was the best education I ever had,” says Sheehy. “I had to interact with federal agencies, interest groups and congressional staff on a variety of issues,” he adds, “and I was able to see how members of Congress interacted when the general public wasn’t there and the cameras and microphones were off.”

In March 1997 Sheehy accepted a staff writer/photographer position with the National Restaurant Association. He was promoted to manager of state legislative affairs in early 1999. His responsibilities now include analyzing, tracking and managing legislative issues that involve the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Tracking developments in so many places, says Sheehy, requires an “attention to detail and an appreciation of quality that I really got from my time at UW Oshkosh, particularly from my involvement in Model UN.” In his role as a state legislative liason to both corporate association members and affiliated state restaurant associations, Sheehy also says he often uses the diplomacy skills he first developed in UW Oshkosh’s award-winning Model UN team.

While a student, Sheehy held several officer positions within the Model UN team, including a term as president from 1991-92. At graduation, he was also named one of two Juris Veidemanis Outstanding Seniors in International Studies, his primary major. He also completed a major in Political Science.

For the future, Sheehy hopes to take his job “to the next level” while juggling the demands of being a student and a new father. He is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA., and enjoying time with his wife Missy and 1-year old son Ryan Xavier.

In April 2003, Pat Sheehy became the Manager of Government Relations for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. In this capacity, he oversees all intearction with all levels of government, particularly state and local governments, and also maintains the exchange of information between the Store chain and state and local government units.

In 2004, he was promoted to Director of Government Relations for Cracker Barrel.