After studying computer science at Chippewa Valley Technical College, Josh Bauer decided to switch his focus — and his school. In 2011, he transferred to UW-Eau Claire to pursue a major in creative writing and a minor in anthropology.
The change was a “big jump” for Josh, but it’s safe to assume he made the right choice. Fast forward five years to today, and he’s still here at UW-Eau Claire. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 2014, Josh immediately enrolled in the UW-Eau Claire English graduate program with a focus on writing. He received his master’s degree this spring.
But Josh isn’t done with UW-Eau Claire just yet. He’ll be joining the English department in the fall as a Blugold Seminar instructor.
Josh said in his experience, graduate students are “treated almost like half-colleagues” in the English department, so the transition shouldn’t be drastic. He’s excited about his switch from student to faculty — especially at his own alma mater — but as any recent grad entering the first stages of their career, he's still a little nervous.
“It’s going to be different!” Josh said, later adding, “I was a graduate assistant in the English department, so I helped professors with research and other projects they’re working on. So I already had kind of a working relationship with them. But this will still be weird, like talking to somebody and thinking, ‘You’re not above me anymore; we’re kind of on the same level now.’”
In addition to his work as a graduate assistant, Josh designed posters and managed public relations for English Fest, served as a peer advisor for the Center for International Education, worked as a literary editor and graduate advisor for NOTA and had a job on the side at LTS helping redesign the university website.
But Josh said it was the experience he gained during his four years at the Center for Writing Excellence as both a writing assistant and a graduate assistant that prepared him the most for his career.
“Working in the writing center has definitely gotten me in touch with the students who are in BGS (Blugold Seminar) already, so I’m very familiar with the assignment cycle and what things students struggle with, how to help them improve,” Josh said. He later added, “I’ve enjoyed helping them out in finding their own way in writing and helping them to enjoy an otherwise required class a little bit, maybe. Or at least be a little less painful.”
Josh, who grew up in Fall Creek, has lived in the Chippewa Valley his entire life. But two summers spent in the Semester at Sea program opened his eyes to more global possibilities for both himself and his future students.
“I had barely any experience abroad. I was pretty much a close-to-home kind of guy. But after studying abroad, especially the second time, I got to know a lot more people, got a little more outgoing. I’m more comfortable going outside of my comfort zone. A lot of experiences traveling helped me see the world in a different light, see our own country in a different light,” Josh said. “So I hope to capture some of that in my own teaching, especially because I’m doing a ‘travel and tourism’ theme, so obviously that’s a direct connection. But also just helping students to recognize that the world’s a bigger place than maybe they were growing up knowing.”
Josh’s position with Blugold Seminar is a temporary appointment, but he said he’d like to continue calling UW-Eau Claire home if the opportunity arises.
“I like the community here on campus, so I’m really excited that this is my first job. Like I’ve said, I’ve been here five years as a student, and I decided to stick around for grad school. I just want to keep going; I never want to leave this community, the atmosphere,” Josh said. “And the campus is beautiful — even with the construction! The people are great. I get along well with the faculty. It’s just a good environment in general.”