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Lane Wohlrab

Only days before graduating from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a nursing degree, Lane Wohlrab is still processing that his college journey—which spanned 8.5 years amid an array of challenges—is finally coming to an end.

 “It really hasn’t hit me yet, because there was such a big part of my time in Oshkosh where I didn’t know if I would graduate,” said Wohlrab, who will be among 1,400-plus students crossing the stage Saturday at Kolf Sports Center on the UWO campus.  

Wohlrab, of Mauston, a small rural Wisconsin city of 4,000, about 20 miles from the Dells, had high expectations of himself when he came to UWO. At Wonewoc-Center High School, he was the valedictorian, earning all As, except for one rogue A-minus in driver’s ed. He was in many club activities and a multi-sport athlete.

Soon-to-be UWO graduate, Lane Wohlrab, is eager to start his full-time nursing career.

“I thought I was going to graduate in 3.5 years,” said Wohlrab, who came to UWO in 2016 with college credits under his belt. “I thought it was going to be just like high school.”
 Wohlrab’s high school high grades garnered him a Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholarship, which paid for a significant amount of tuition, room and board, and he was named a UWO College of Nursing Scholar, which gave him direct admission to the nursing program. He thought he had his college career all figured out.

 Then life hit hard. He had to maintain a 3.4 GPA to keep his scholarship, but missed its mark by less than 1 percentage point by the end of his freshman year. As a person who has always excelled in the past, Wohlrab didn’t tell anyone about his financial situation, not even his parents.

“ It was a big strain on my mental health,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to do, I had never really struggled like that before.”  

 Wohlrab withdrew in the fall of 2017 to work and regroup. He came back in the spring of 2018, only to realize he wasn’t ready. He took another break from the University, working 50-60 hours a week, at multiple jobs to save money for school. He said losing his scholarship caused him to spiral, mental health-wise.

“I made some poor decisions, and I partied a little bit too much,” he said. 

Despite the challenges—financial, mental and emotional—Wohlrab was determined to return to the University to finish what he started. After another extended break, he started classes again in spring of 2022. He wanted to be a nurse for two reasons. His late grandfather had Parkinson’s disease and was in and out of the hospital and Wohlrab saw the care he received from the nurses. The other reason was when Wohlrab was a senior in high school, his appendix burst right after his first basketball game.

“I thought I could tough it out,” he said. “After the game, I couldn’t move. I was on the floor in so much pain.” 

 He ended up in the hospital for two weeks.

“The nursing staff were really awesome,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘This is what I want to do someday.’” 

 Wohlrab had to work his way back to the nursing program. He also had to show that he was worthy of graduating as an Honors College student at UWO. High-achieving students apply to be in the Honors College, which offers small class sizes and co-curricular activities. 

Laurence Carlin

 Laurence Carlin, dean of the Honors College, said he is proud of what Lane has accomplished.

Lane met with some personal obstacles during his journey through The Honors College curriculum,” Carlin said. “But we know Lane, and thus, we always believed that he would persevere. We are proud to soon call him an Honors alum. His future looks very bright and I know he will continue to do great things.” 

 In his time at the University, Wohlrab has been a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity; he served as president of Men in Nursing and has volunteered in numerous community service events including blood drives. 

After graduation, Wohlrab will be working at the Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee working in the Transplant Intensive Care Unit. He will mainly be working as a nurse in the liver and kidney transplant unit. 

 Wohlrab looks at his journey at UWO, however circuitous, as life lessons.

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned in my time here is that it’s okay to fail. Life isn’t easy, and sometimes you have to take what it gives you and try to spin it in a positive way,” he said, adding, “I do think the struggles I went through will help me to connect with my patients better and I was really bad at asking for help. I’m way better at that now.” 

 Learn more: 

 Study Nursing at UWO 

The Honors College