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  August 2015

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Power of AND

In this issue

Seven faculty and staff recognized for excellence

Blugold geographers help rediscover ancient synagogue

Biology students practice conservation on a global scale

Service-learning with epilepsy group gives student the chance to give back

Interns gain hands-on experience in environmental, mining industries

Sharing two worlds

Get ready for Homecoming 2015!

Champions of The Power of AND

New alumni success stories

Blugold Trivia

Alumni links

Alumni events

Alumni success stories

eView archive

eView survey

Photo album

The View online


Seven faculty and staff recognized for excellence

2015 Excellence Award recipients
UW-Eau Claire 2015 Excellence Award recipients, from left, Jeff Goodman, Janice Henderson, Ali Abootalebi, B.J. Hollars, Tali Lee, Melissa Boellaard and David Jones.

Seven UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff members were recognized for excellence during the university's academic year opening meeting Aug. 25.

Chancellor James Schmidt presented 2015 Excellence Awards to:

  • Janice Henderson, custodian in Custodial Services;
  • Melissa Boellaard, clinical agency coordinator in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences;
  • Ali Abootalebi, professor of political science;
  • David Jones, professor of English and liberal studies program director;
  • B.J. Hollars, assistant professor of English;
  • Jeffrey Goodman, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in psychology; and
  • Tali Lee, professor of biology.

Each honoree received a university medallion and $1,500. All six of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation excellence awards for faculty and staff are funded by Markquart Motors and Markquart Toyota of Eau Claire. The 2015 UW System Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award nominee is funded by the Arnold and Lois Domer Foundation of Eau Claire. Full story. back to top

Blugold geographers help rediscover ancient synagogue

Geography researchers

Harry Jol, Alexis Pingel, Richard Freund (University of Hartford) and Hartford student Nicole Awad on site in Vilna, Lithuania. (University of Hartford photo)

As part of an international team of researchers, Harry Jol, UW-Eau Claire professor of geography and anthropology, and senior geography major Alexis Pingel helped to discover the remains of a 17th-century synagogue in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The Great Synagogue of Vilna, the oldest and most significant Jewish monument in Lithuania, was destroyed during the Holocaust. The June discovery, located where a school now stands, includes sections of the Great Synagogue and possible remnants of its mikveh or ritual bath. The research used ground-penetrating radar (GPR), which showed significant remains just below the surface. Full story. back to top

Biology students practice conservation on a global scale

Biology students in Nevada
Biology students Morgan Freeburg and Alison Schulte in Death Valley, Nevada

So what is meant by the term "high-impact practice" on this campus? Is it some sort of athletic or fitness activity? Running? CrossFit, maybe? Not exactly.

At UW-Eau Claire, "high-impact" has a totally different meaning, and it results in undergraduate experiences that put Blugolds on the map, literally, across the globe.

Through the department of biology, our students find opportunities to participate in national and international faculty/student collaborative research and internships — the kinds of research and work opportunities often reserved for graduate students.

Senior biology majors Ally Hillstrom and Morgan Freeburg provide stellar examples of Blugolds who refuse to let any opportunities pass them by. Full story. back to top

Service-learning with epilepsy group gives student the chance to give back

Nichole Gervenak
Nichole Gervenak at the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin office

Living with a neurological disorder is rarely an easy task. But embracing your disorder to help others with similar circumstances? That's truly inspiring.

Difficult as it may seem, it's the lifelong passion of UW-Eau Claire senior Nichole Gervenak.

When she was diagnosed with epilepsy as a child, Gervenak and her family were left with many questions about the central nervous system disorder.

"My family knew that epilepsy meant seizures, but there is such a variety of other impacts that this diagnosis can have that they wanted to be completely informed," Gervenak said.

The Epilepsy Foundation was able to provide the information necessary for Gervenak and her family to feel comfortable with the diagnosis.

Gervenak, a senior biology major and chemistry minor, began working with the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin as a way to fulfill her UW-Eau Claire service-learning requirement. But as her 15 hours came and went, she found herself too attached to the organization to leave. Full story. back to top

Interns gain hands-on experience in environmental, mining industries

Rachel Fliflet and Kent Syverson

Geology major Rachel Fliflet, pictured with Kent Syverson of UW-Eau Claire's geology department, at Fairmount Santrol in Menomonie

Employers value relevant work experience when considering job candidates. This summer, 10 UW-Eau Claire geology students are getting that experience — and being paid for it.

Several of the paid internships are part of UW-Eau Claire's Responsible Mining Initiative, housed in the university's geology department. The initiative was created when, in November 2013, the UW System awarded UW-Eau Claire a $451,000 Economic Development Incentive Grant to prepare highly qualified graduates for work in the mining industry, the environmental consulting industry and regulatory
agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources. Full story. back to top

Sharing two worlds

Participants in the Hmong Cultural Practices and Ceremonial DII Immersion

This past May, 16 Blugold students and two faculty members participated in a trip to Fresno, California, for the Hmong Cultural Practices and Ceremonial DII Immersion. This travel seminar, led by University Honors Program instructor Ka Vang, is designed to strengthen the knowledge base of students with a vested interest in learning more about Hmong ceremonial practices. Most of the students who participated are of Hmong heritage, and all have taken the 100-level Hmong Studies course or the Hmong Culture & History Honors colloquium prior to this immersion.

A strong proponent for Hmong culture preservation, Vang has served on the Hmong Studies Steering Committee, a group currently working to develop a Critical Hmong Studies Program that will serve Blugold students and the larger Eau Claire community.

Vang, along with David Jones, professor of English and director of the liberal studies program, created an Honors humanities course called "Voices of Color," a multidisciplinary course exploring art, media images and cultural histories among people of color in the United States. Jones was pleased to take the opportunity to serve with his colleague as supervisor on the Hmong Cultural Practices and Ceremonial Immersion trip, and found the experience to be profound both on a personal level and in his role as a campus leader. He offers the following reflection. Full story. back to top

Get ready for Homecoming 2015!

Blugold Marching Band

The UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association invites all Blugolds to Homecoming 2015, scheduled for Oct. 9-10. Join friends and former classmates for the university's biggest celebration of the year. Enjoy the traditional parade, pregame celebration and football game.

Other events include the Golden Blugold Celebration and reunions for many other groups.

Check the Alumni Association website for additional Homecoming details as they are finalized. Plan now to join your friends for Homecoming 2015! back to top

Champions of The Power of AND
Power of AND

In this issue of eView, we continue our series spotlighting alumni and other Blugolds who exemplify The Power of AND.

making plays AND making a difference

Joel Newman, right, working as a mentor to international student Pedro Henrique during the 2014-15 academic year

UW-Eau Claire student-athletes are not just students and athletes — they're mentors, coaches, volunteers, tutors, activists and role models. Blugolds play hard and work harder, which is why they are consistently recognized as conference and national scholar-athletes.

Joel Newman of Red Wing, Minnesota, is no exception to this rule. As a quarterback for the Blugolds, Joel knows what it takes to achieve his goals as an athlete, but his goals off the field give him the greatest sense of accomplishment. The future Spanish teacher and University Honors Program participant uses his passion for the language and teaching to mentor international students on campus and tutor a Cuban-born elementary student from an area school district.

"Watching a young student progress from speaking exclusively Spanish, to then having the confidence to speak English in front of his entire class was an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and it helped me to realize what I want to do for the rest of my life," Joel said. "As a sports fan, I've always cheered for the underdog, and that kind of mentality has inspired me to want to teach students facing adversity. English learners face challenges every day — a language barrier, culture shock, being a minority in our culture — and I'm really motivated by the opportunity to be able to make a difference."

While he credits Blugold football with introducing him to his best friends and offering him the support of the student body and Eau Claire community in ways that many students don't experience, it has been discovering the path to teaching second-language learners that has given Joel his truest sense of purpose at UW-Eau Claire.

"I've been privileged to meet people from Brazil, Japan and several other countries who have impacted me," Joel said. "I've learned a lot from the students, and my perspective has changed. I now realize how much I take for granted."

Being able to easily communicate with his community is one thing Joel will never take for granted again, and helping others in this regard is something he knows will bring him great satisfaction as a future teacher. In the meantime, his last season as a Blugold player is set to be another incredible chance to make friends and lifelong memories on and off the field.

Joel Newman is a proud Blugold who is making plays AND making a difference … and that's pretty powerful.

Read more AND stories on The Power of AND website. And please submit your AND story as well! back to top
Alumni success stories

In addition to the alumni below, you can read about the accomplishments of other UW-Eau Claire alumni on the Alumni Success Stories Web pages:

Amy Erickson '07, a UW-Eau Claire business management graduate, is owner and director of the recently opened Latitude 44 Yoga Studio in Eau Claire. Full story.

Kersten Rodau '94, a UW-Eau Claire music graduate, recently starred in "The Pirate of Penzance" at the Ordway Center in St. Paul. Full story.
Jeff Parris '93, a UW-Eau Claire political science graduate, has been named executive vice president of sales for Field Nation. Full story.
Tyler Hack '11, a UW-Eau Claire accounting graduate, recently was named director of finance for Aspirus Medford Hospital & Clinics. Full story.
Randy Oostra '85, who received a master’s degree from UW-Eau Claire, is president and CEO of ProMedica in Toledo, Ohio. Full story.
Nick Poss '01, a UW-Eau Claire music graduate, and his wife, Sara Heitzinger-Poss '04, a UW-Eau Claire political science and German graduate, are the new owners of the Eau Claire Music School. Full story.
Brenna Long '13, a UW-Eau Claire communication sciences and disorders graduate, recently created the Coffee with a Cop initiative in Menomonie. Full story. back to top

Blugold Trivia headline
Show how much you know about UW-Eau Claire — AND win great Blugold prizes! Email your answer to this month's question to the Blugold Trivia mailbox (trivia@uwec.edu). Those sending correct responses to this month's question will be entered in a drawing for a UW-Eau Claire travel mug. The name of this month's Blugold Trivia winner will be published in the September 2015 issue of eView.

August Blugold Trivia question:

Which UW-Eau Claire department is involved with the Responsible Mining Initiative?

Know the answer? Email it, along with your name and class year, to trivia@uwec.edu. You'll be notified by email if you are this month's winner!

July's winner:

Congratulations to Janet (Roe) Barney, a 1955 UW-Eau Claire mathematics education graduate and winner of the July Blugold Trivia prize! Janet's name was drawn from among those who correctly answered that bestselling author Reza Aslan will present the last lecture of The Forum for 2015-16. back to top

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Last Updated: August 31, 2015 Questions/Comments: alumni@uwec.edu