Student Stories

Welcome to our student stories site, where the narratives of UW-Parkside's vibrant and diverse student body come to life. From tales of academic exploration to inspiring accounts of real-world experience, our students' journeys are as varied and unique as the paths they choose to pursue.

Hired Before Graduation: Joanne Cervac


Hometown: Lake Villa, IL

Position: Human Resources Coordinator, Snap-on Industrial

Backstory: "I was recruited for an HR internship through a Meet The Recruiter event at Parkside last school year. I continued my internship for a full year and was offered the position a couple weeks ago! I don't officially start until the Monday following graduation, but I was given the offer a month in advance."

Parkside Story: "I'm an ‘older’ student at 28 and the first of my family to attend college. I don't think I would've gotten the opportunity had it not been for Parkside's Internship & Career Fair and the Meet the Recruiter event. As I wrap up my final semester, I'm filled with an immense amount of gratitude for my family who've supported me, the friends I've made throughout my journey, and the people at UW-Parkside who have made my time here a truly memorable experience."

Major Monday: Gabriel Cruz


Hometown: Kenosha, WI

Major: Music

Gabriel Cruz is a 3rd year Music Major with a Music Performance concentration from Kenosha. He has never seen anything other than music being his path in life; he has always been a Music Performance Major. He describes his major as being; "Difficult, Challenging, but extremely rewarding if you put the time in." In the future, he dreams of composing and helping others create music as well. During his Music journey at UWP, Gabriel was greatly influenced by Professor Alvaro Garcia, the Music Director of the UW-Parkside Symphony and the UW-Parkside Community Orchestra.

Do you share Gabriel's passion for music? Then maybe a Music Major is for you! As a music student here at Parkside, you will join an ensemble where you'll grow and learn by playing with your peers, led by music professionals.

Learn more about the music major.


Major Monday: Nick Erickson


Hometown: Kenosha, WI

Major: Geography

Nick Erickson has a passion for the environment and the community he is a part of, and he found a way to harness these passions through his Geography major.

Geography is a bridge between the social sciences and the natural sciences. Through this major, you will study the relationship between humans and the environment.

He states, "Geography combined my love of the environment, our planet, and community into one beautiful field...The major provides flexibility by allowing you to find what you are most passionate about and build your resume for the specific direction you discover that you want to go."

Nick is also the Founder and President of the Anthropology and Geography Club, a recruitment officer for the Geoscience Club, and a Committee Member of the UW-Parkside Student Life Committee.

For undecided students, Nick says, "Pay attention to what classes spark your interests and follow your heart. What really matters is finding what work fulfills your passions, interests, and values."

Could you see yourself as a Geography Major? 

Click here to learn more about the Geography major at UW-Parkside.

Major Monday: Ashley Johnson

Secondary Education

Hometown: Canfield, OH

Major: Secondary Education

Like many people, when deciding what major to choose after high school graduation, Ashley was unsure what path was right for her. It wasn’t until she opened a scrapbook she had made in Kindergarten that she was reminded of her original dream job, being a teacher.

Ashley is from a small town in Ohio called Canfield and is a sophomore Secondary Education and English double major. She wants to teach either 7th or 8th grade and is currently the Vice President of the Literature Club here at Parkside.

She loves her major, “My education classes are a lot of fun, there are a lot of hands-on assignments and group work, and I’ve built lots of relationships.” She would recommend this major to anyone, even if they think teaching isn’t for them. Ashley sees teaching as a rewarding career and can’t wait to make an impact on her future students.

One piece of advice she would give anyone undecided about their major is, “Don’t stress, but don’t wait. Jump into your gen-ed courses,” she says you can find the right path for you once you get into your courses.

Could you see yourself as a Secondary Education Major?

Click here to learn more at Secondary Education at UW-Parkside.

Major Monday: Janet Jurado

Theatre Arts and Communication

Hometown: Kenosha, WI

Major: Theatre Arts and Communication

Janet Jurado is a Kenosha native double majoring in Theatre Arts and Communication. Her dream career after graduation is to be a professional TV and Film actress. Janet would highly recommend both the Theatre Arts and Communications majors. "The Courses are also fantastic within both these majors," she says, "fully challenging you to go above and beyond your comfort levels for the sake of growing as a person and being prepared for anything."

What is her advice to you if you are undecided? She says to start out taking a variety of different gen-eds to feel things out. You learn a lot about yourself through the classes you enjoy taking but also through the ones that you don't like. "Which is worse: doing something and wishing you hadn't or not doing something you wish you had" is an idea she lives by.

Could you see yourself as a Theatre Arts or Communications Major? Learn more about each major through the links below.

Theatre Arts                    Communication

Major Monday: Anna Klawinski


Hometown: Racine, WI

Major: Nursing

Anna Klawinski is a pre-nursing major in her 2nd year. She is from Racine and is currently a Certified Nursing Assistant. She decided to get her nursing degree because “I love helping others feel better physically and emotionally. I chose nursing specifically because of the patient interactions and the ability to get to know them on a personal level.” She plans on continuing her education after her Nursing Degree, getting her Doctorate, and becoming a Pediatric Family Nurse Practitioner. She cites Hillary Vara, her advisor, as someone who has impacted her journey in the nursing field at Parkside.

Anna would recommend this major because “The professors all want to see you succeed, and you will be close with your classmates as you will be in nearly every class together! With that, nursing is a great field to get into as you can try out different specialties like peds, l&D, geriatrics, etc.”

Could you see yourself in the Nursing Field?

Click here to learn more.

Hired Before Graduation: Christopher LeValley

Professional Chemistry and Criminal Justice Dual Major

Hometown: Kenosha, WI

Position: Part-Time Deputy Medical Examiner, Kenosha County Medical Examiner's Office and Associate Quality Control Chemist, MilliporeSigma

Backstory: "I interned for the Kenosha County Medical Examiner's Office (KCMEO) in the fall of 2023 through UW-Parkside. I was pleasantly surprised with how interesting and curious I was at the investigative side of medicolegal death investigation. The staff are incredibly professional and have taught me many things about the forensic investigative process. I was offered a unique temporary position with the KCMEO as a deputy medical examiner after my internship was finished. A permanent part-time position opened up at the beginning of March 2024. I interviewed and landed the position as a part time deputy medical examiner with the KCMEO."

Parkside Story: "The KCMEO accepts internships through accredited academic establishments, such as UW-Parkside. I was introduced to this internship through friends in my courses at UW-Parkside and decided to apply for an internship for the fall of 2023 with the help of campus professors and staff to arrange the internship. I was luckily selected and approved to intern!"


Major Monday: Karlee Lois

Kinesiology and Sport Performance

Hometown: Union Grove, WI

Major: Kinesiology and Sport Performance

Karlee Lois is a senior Kinesiology and Sport Performance Major from Union Grove, Wisconsin. During her first year at Parkside, she was unsure about which Major to choose until she found the right fit with Kinesiology and Sport Performance. Her love of sports performance inspired her to go in this direction. She has this to say about her chosen field of study, “The KSP major teaches you not only how to motivate and inspire others but also will teach you how the body functions and how to use that information to become successful in the future.” Karlee hopes to one day be a Division 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach.

When choosing the right Major, she says, “When in classes for your Major, you should be able to be engaged and interested. If you aren’t, you’re in the wrong Major.”

Could you see yourself in the Kinesiology and Sport Performance Major?

Click here to learn more.

Major Monday: Boukary Mbengue


Hometown: Moline, IL

Major: Nursing

Boukary Mbengue is from Moline, Illinois, and is currently a Nursing major and a Junior at Parkside and this week's Major Monday representative.

From the beginning of his time at UWP, he has been on the Nursing track. He was inspired by his mother, who is a nurse, to enter this field. In the future, he wants to be a Nurse Practitioner.

Boukary has this to say about the Nursing Major,

"I would describe nursing as a major that teaches you life skills to be a great individual. This major shows you how to treat people with the best care possible. It is wonderfully taught and will help carve you into a great nurse many people will respect and aspire to be."

The nursing program at Parkside collaborates with the UW-Milwaukee School of Nursing to offer students the highest quality nursing program possible to our students.

Could you see yourself as a Nursing Major?

Learn more about the nursing major here.

Major Monday: Hannah Pautsch

Graphic Design

Hometown: Orfordville, WI

Major: Graphic Design

When deciding what Major to choose, Hannah knew she wanted to do something art-related; this is how she decided to become a Graphic Design Major. Hannah is currently a senior at Parkside from Orfordville, Wisconsin. With her Graphic Design Degree, she wants to work in social media marketing and create promotional materials like posters and graphics. She describes her Major as: “A fun, unexpected challenge. There are so many things that relate to graphic design that you never even realize, and I have learned things I never expected to know or learn about.”

To any undecided majors, she says, “It's okay not to know what you wish to do, College is about learning about yourself and finding yourself. There are resources to help you find what you want to do and assist you in picking a major. There's no rush!”

Could you see yourself as a Graphic Design Major?

Click here to learn more about the graphic design major at UW-Parkside.

Hired Before Graduation: Molly Schwamb

MBA with an emphasis in HR Management

Hometown: Mount Pleasant, WI

Position: Human Resources Leader at Beyond Vision

Backstory: "I came across this position and it stood out to me because their mission statement is near and dear to my heart. Beyond Vision’s mission is to enrich the lives of people who are blind through the dignity of work valued by customers and the community. As someone that has 5 visually impaired people in my family, I am grateful to be working for such a rewarding company that empowers their employees.

Parkside Story: "Parkside provided me a great education in both my undergrad and masters program that provided me the skills and knowledge to succeed in this position."

Major Monday: Noelle Sporer

Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Geography

Hometown: Kenosha, WI

Majors: Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Geography

Noelle is a Senior Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Geography Major. Sporer describes her majors as “pieces of a puzzle that are fit together to enhance my understanding of the world in many aspects including human behavior, nature, society, culture, and environment.”

After graduating, Noelle plans on going to Graduate School and one day wants to research how environmental policy is implemented, the socioeconomic implications for vulnerable populations, and what inequities are still perpetuated by these policies or the lack thereof. Noelle’s advice for any undecided major is; “Go into something that genuinely interests you. If it is not compatible with your larger goals, at least take courses that interest you and keep you passionate about learning.”

Could you see yourself as a psychology, criminal justice, or geography major? Visit the links below to learn more about each of these majors.

Psychology          Criminal Justice          Geography

Hired Before Graduation: Jus Star

International Studies

Hometown: Kenosha, WI

Position: Peace Corps

Backstory: "Ever since I was a kid I've always known that I wanted to work with the Peace Corps, so I decided to pursue my dream." 

Parkside Story: "I talked to a few of the professors here who have served in the Peace Corps before and I was able to ask them for advice. They were willing to talk to me and helped teach me about what it's like to serve in the Peace Corps. I was able to connect with a Peace Corps trainer and I was able to learn about the process of the program."

Hired Before Graduation: Nathan Szalewski

Sustainable Management

Hometown: Menomonee Falls, WI

Position: Quality Engineer, Copeland

Backstory: "After getting the Environmental Health and Safety Co-op at Copeland, my manager helped me get out of my comfort zone by attending a safety summit with the director of safety and the other safety managers in the Americas. I was able to create some meaningful contacts and engage in valuable safety learning. Along with that, I was tasked with providing new hires a safety presentation on their first day. I was incredibly nervous to take this task on but after just a few short times I felt confident and made it my own. This led me to applying for the Quality Engineer position."

Parkside Story: "Parkside played a role in getting the job by providing the support I needed through my studies. The professors were an incredible help and gave wonderful feedback to help me continue excelling in my major."


Hired Before Graduation: Kaeleb Wayman Thomas

Professional Communication MA

Hometown: Kenosha, WI

Position: AmeriCorps Vista Program in the State of Georgia.

Backstory: I loved working with the AmeriCorps as a Reading Corps Member since 2022, but after being fired in February of 2024 I was emotionally distressed and mentally distraught. However, I knew the AmeriCorps was full of other opportunities, so I made do with what I knew and I found a new opportunity with an even greater organization (VISTA program).

Parkside Story: Kaeleb is passionate about helping others and is excited about this new opportunity. Kaeleb credits the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and his peers with supporting him and encouraging him to pursue his passion. 

Hired Before Graduation: Devin Vandertie 

Master of Business Administration

Hometown: Sturgeon Bay, WI

Position: Director of Business Development, Door County Economic Development Corporation

Backstory: "After several years in healthcare leadership, I began pursuing my MBA in the hopes of advancing my career and increasing my community impact. During a local leadership residency program, I was exposed to Door County Economic Development Corporation and loved the work they were doing. This felt like the perfect opportunity to put my new education to work, so I was thrilled when a job role opened up last fall and have been enjoying this new adventure ever since! The education I received from UW-Parkside has been extremely valuable as I transitioned to this new career and I'm excited for what will come following graduation!

Parkside Story: "My education from UW-Parkside gave me the confidence to seek out a new opportunity I would have previously felt woefully under-qualified for. While I still have lots to learn in a new career field, my education has served me well as I began my new role.

I welcomed my first child four weeks prior to commencement! Our L&D nurses had a giggle at my doing homework in the midst of labor, but I've been excited to finish this program and savor my newfound free time with my growing family!"

Major Monday: Riley Werve

Communications and English

Hometown: Kenosha, WI

Majors: Communications and English with a concentration in Film and Cultural Studies

Riley Werve is a Kenosha native currently double majoring in Communications and English with a concentration in Film and Cultural Studies. Her dream job is to be involved in video editing or screenplay writing. She started at Parkside solely as a Communications Major but later added film and cultural studies.

Riley has an on-campus job in our Marketing department and cites Kim Sekas, her supervisor, as a major inspiration to her. For undecided majors, she recommends that you: “Do a sample of a bunch of majors for gen ed classes. If a class is involved in film and can fill out a gen ed requirement, try out the class and see if that is a world that interests or excites you.”

Could you see yourself as a Communications or English Major? Visit the links below to learn more.

Film and Cultural Studies                    Communications

Major Monday: Bianca Zepeda


Hometown: Beloit, WI

Major: Nursing

“I knew that I always wanted to help those around me and to know that I can make an impact on someone’s life.”

Bianca always knew that she wanted to have a career in the healthcare field but was unsure of where exactly that would be. In her senior year of High School, she decided the nursing field was the right fit for her.

Bianca is from Beloit, Wisconsin, and is a sophomore in Pre-Nursing. After graduation, she plans on working as a labor and delivery nurse. Her advice to undecided majors is “to not feel pressured into picking a major. To take your time and figure out what you do or do not like.”

Could you see yourself as a nursing major?

Learn more about the nursing major at UW-Parkside.

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