Decision to Attend UW-P a Perfect One for Jensen
Jeniffer Jensen had never received this kind of classroom attention.
A class discussion at a much larger university probably would've gone by the wayside a day later, forgotten and buried in the ongoing direction of a curriculum designed for a massive group of students.
After coming from this type of environment in four years at Georgia State University, Jensen quickly found that things were different when she transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
"One of the first weeks I was there, we were having a discussion in a class, and the next day the professor brought me an article she clipped out of a newspaper, because it sort of referenced something I had been talking about," recalls Jensen, who graduated from UW-Parkside in 2004 with a degree in sociology. "That would never have happened at Georgia State, so I thought that was great. I thought that was really neat."
Jensen, who now resides in Chattanooga, Tenn., and works as a regional director for Medical Third Party Resources, spent just two semesters at UW-Parkside, but they were two semesters that launched her current career.
Jensen, who was born in Kenosha but moved to Atlanta at a young age, initially entered the five-year music program at Georgia State as a saxophone player. After four years, however, she wanted a change of direction, left Georgia State and went to work for awhile. But she soon decided to continue her education, and UW-Parkside was a logical choice considering she still had family in the area and both her parents, Pamela and Gary, attended UW-Parkside.
She decided to pursue a sociology degree and quickly found out that UW-Parkside offered her the personal classroom attention she was looking for.
"I didn't want to go back to another giant school in Atlanta, so I came here," said Jensen, who received an out-of-state initiative scholarship, which required a minimum GPA of 3.0, to attend UW-Parkside. "It was a nice change.
"I was so used to a giant school, I didn't really know what to expect. I think the smaller size actually makes it more accessible for the professors to try new things and bring in new ideas. It was constantly changing. Even throughout the course of the class, we could change direction a little bit if we all sort of got interested in something."
Jensen said her favorite class at UW-Parkside was Sociology 322: Sociology of Language and Knowledge, taught by Associate Professor Gerhard Schutte.
"He spoke 14 languages, and his viewpoint was so broad," Jensen said. "He had such a global perspective. It was definitely my favorite class while I was there."
Although UW-Parkside doesn't offer an official social-work program, Jensen got more than enough real-world experience. She received class credit by doing an internship helping developmentally disabled people at the Kenosha Achievement Center and also gained class credit by participating in a symposium dealing with the homeless issue during an election year.
All that experience helped Jensen finish her degree in two semesters and prepared her for the work force.
"The sociology program at UW-Parkside made it really easy to do social-work-related things," she said. "Although I didn't come out with a social-work degree where I could get licensed for social work, the training helped me a lot."
Jensen also picked up a new interest outside the classroom: distance running. She began running on the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course (she says she wishes there were places to run where she lives now like there were at UW-Parkside). Distance running has now evolved into a full-blown hobby. She runs marathons regularly and recently competed in the Country Music Marathon in Nashville.
"Whenever I can find something to run, I run it," Jensen said.
Jensen's career has also been on the fast-track since she graduated.
After working as a health-care account representative for Quality Medcare, a firm that runs big hospitals all around Atlanta, Jensen took a job with Medical Third Party Resources. She was named a regional director for MTPR in May 2007 and moved from Atlanta to Chattanooga last September in the face of growing job responsibilities.
Jensen's job is to present her company's services to hospitals and facilities that might be able to use them. If a potential client wants a contract, Jensen will set up an office in their facility, train and hire people and essentially get the ball rolling. Her company's main objective is to meet with uninsured patients to help them find government programs that will allow for ongoing treatment.
In this regard, the social work Jensen did at UW-Parkside has paid dividends.
"Especially in dealing with such a diverse population, it gave me the opportunity to develop some skills that I use every day," she said.
Reflecting upon her decision to leave Georgia State and finish her degree at UW-Parkside, Jensen talks about it like it was once of the most important and beneficial decisions of her life.
"I think that it was a really important decision going to UW-Parkside, more so than I realized at the time," she said. "I don't think I'd be here if I hadn't done that, so I'm very glad that I did."