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UW-Eau Claire – Barron County helps grad focus on the future

Photo caption: After graduation from UW-Eau Claire – Barron County, Paige Williams plans to enroll at a UW System campus to become a veterinarian or a veterinary technician.

Paige Williams bounced around different schools growing up, but she found a home at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Barron County over the past two years.

Williams, who will graduate with an associate degree in arts and sciences in May, calls the Rice Lake campus a special place that launched her higher education journey.

“For anyone just coming out of high school, this is a great starting college,” Williams says. “The staff here are very good at easing you into the college setting. Here is a good place to be, especially if you're not sure of your career path.”

Paige Williams

Williams graduated from Rice Lake High School but attended multiple schools growing up, living at various times with her parents, grandparents and other extended family members. Williams also had multiple health issues, including suffering a stroke several years ago from which she still suffers seizures.

“I have my amazing stepmom and my cousin and her kids who give me a reason to keep moving forward,” Williams says. “I have friends here on campus as well as outside campus. Plus, your past doesn't define you. It can be hard not to let it break you down, but you just have to believe that the future will be better.”

Professional portrait of Abbey Fischer

Dr. Abbey Fischer, campus director at UW-Eau Claire – Barron County.

That type of attitude in the face of adversity shows how Williams is “a role model of positivity, creativity and perseverance,” says Dr. Abbey Fischer, campus director at UW-Eau Claire – Barron County.

“She brings a can-do attitude to every class, every day,” Fischer says. “When she struggles with a course concept, she smiles, acknowledges the struggle and seeks help from her instructor.”

Williams doesn’t have a driver’s license and says she decided to attend UW-Eau Claire – Barron County, in part, because it was close to where she lives in Rice Lake. She is a creative problem-solver, Fischer says, using Rice Lake’s lone taxi service to get to class each day, befriending the taxi drivers along the way.

“Every time a possible obstacle has fallen into her path, Paige has found a way around, over or through it, and she has done so with an incredibly positive attitude,” Fischer says.

Williams enjoys writing and has been working on a science fiction novel about a futuristic America that includes genetically modified animals. She hopes to one day have the novel published.

Animals always have been her first passion, Williams says, and she hopes to have plenty of animals in her future as she plans to enroll at a UW System campus to become a veterinarian or a veterinary technician.

When her educational journey continues after commencement, Williams won’t soon forget UW-Eau Claire – Barron County, where she found a welcoming campus that has given her a promising future, saying she “wouldn't change that decision for the world.”

“The faculty are so amazing and kind and understanding,” Williams says. “They always know how to make a bad day into a good one, and a good day into an even greater one.”