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accomplished athlete AND aspiring teacher

| Judy Berthiaume

John Schiel is an accomplished Blugold who is eager to talk about his future career as a teacher as well as his passion for triathlons. The elementary education major and math minor is an active member of UW-Eau Claire's Triathlon Club. A Cedarburg native, John is taking classes and preparing to student teach in the fall while also training for multiple athletic competitions this spring, including running the Eau Claire Marathon and competing in the triathlon nationals in South Carolina.

Given his impressive academic and athletic resume, it's hard to believe that John arrived on campus four years ago with poor eating and exercise habits and no idea of what he wanted to do with his life. Fortunately, it didn't take him long to discover and embrace the many opportunities available to him as a Blugold. By the end of his freshman year, he was actively exploring potential majors and making much-needed lifestyle changes. He began thinking about elementary education as a potential major after realizing how much he enjoyed teaching summer swim lessons. After observing a classroom in an Eau Claire school, he knew that he'd found the right academic fit.

Much to his surprise, he also found that UW-Eau Claire's Triathlon Club was a good right fit for him as well. Since joining the club as a sophomore, he's competed in many sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons as well as two half marathons and a full marathon. Through the club, he's made lifelong friends and learned how to set high goals and work hard to achieve them. Distance running also takes him into the Eau Claire community, making him feel even more connected to the city that's been his home for four years. The positions he's held within the Triathlon Club helped him build his leadership and communication skills, which will serve him well in the teaching profession.

At UW-Eau Claire, John also embraced other opportunities that have helped him enhance his interpersonal skills, including working as resident assistant on campus, a job he loves because it brings him in contact with new people from varied backgrounds. As a Campus Ambassador, John leads tours of the UW-Eau Claire campus for prospective students and their families. He also shares his time and talents with the Eau Claire community. For example, he works with area youth who need extra help with their reading and volunteers at community running events.

While all these experiences have helped him change and grow these past four years, UW-Eau Claire's Best Buddies program has made the greatest impact on him. Best Buddies connects university students with Eau Claire community members who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. For the last three years, John has been paired with Logan, a young man he now describes as a close friend and confidante. Given their strong bond, they expect that they'll continue their friendship long after John has graduated.

In the fall, John will student teach, first at a school in Wisconsin and then at a school abroad, an opportunity to have yet another life-changing experience. After he graduates, he hopes to teach in grades 4-5 or at a middle school. He also plans to take his running to another level by competing in ultra-marathons, races that have distances longer than marathons. As he reflects on his UW-Eau Claire journey, John credits the many people he's met through his studies and his outside-the-classroom activities for helping him grow from an uncertain freshman into a confident senior who is well prepared for wherever life takes him.

As an accomplished athlete AND an aspiring teacher, John Schiel is looking forward to a future that is full of possibilities and challenges … and that's pretty powerful!

Photo caption: Blugold John Schiel