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mental health advocate AND military cadet

| Judy Berthiaume

Monica Weltzien came to UW-Eau Claire knowing that she wants to eventually work in the mental health field, an area of health care that has long interested her. She began her college career as a nursing major but quickly realized that wasn’t the right path for her to achieve her professional goals. She changed her major to social work and immediately knew she’d found the right fit.

Through her major, she found information and opportunities inside and outside the classroom that will help her achieve her goal of working in the mental health field. For example, she’s gained knowledge and valued faculty mentors through her work with UW-Eau Claire’s Suicide Prevention and Research Collaborative. While she found her academic niche in social work, Monica also was looking for other ways to challenge herself.

Her freshman year, she discovered the Lacrosse Club and fell in love with a sport that was brand new to her. Her sophomore year, she was elected a team captain and by her junior year she was the Lacrosse Club’s president. While the sport itself was fun, it was through her leadership positions within the club that she discovered her love for being a leader and a mentor. She also discovered she was good at it. Looking for even more opportunities to hone her leadership skills, she joined UW-Eau Claire’s Army ROTC program.

ROTC cadets pursue a variety of academic majors — such as social work — while taking courses in military science and leadership. Through the ROTC, Monica has continued to develop her leadership skills, but to her surprise she’s also discovered a new career path. When she graduates, she now plans to use her social work degree to pursue a career in the mental health field in the military. Already she’s combining her social work and military interests through a faculty-student research project that will focus on the mental health of children in military families.

While her involvement in the social work program, the Lacrosse Club and ROTC seem unrelated at a glance, Monica says each of those experiences are influencing how she sees her future. Monica’s journey as a Blugold has taught her the value of pursuing multiple passions, and that those passions often lead her to other experiences and opportunities that enrich her life. That’s a lesson Monica will remember long after she’s graduated.

As a Blugold, Monica Weltzien is building her future as a mental health advocate AND a military cadet … and that’s pretty powerful!