The old saying goes, “If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it’s yours.” This sums up the love affair between a growing number of UW-Green Bay alumni and their alma mater. What’s with the sappy sentiment? It’s nearly Valentine’s Day!
UW-Green Bay has seen an increasing number of alums who loved their campus so much, they returned for a second degree. The Advancement Office database shows 454 people with dual degrees from UWGB. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to share a few tales of love, devotion and hard work in pursuit of their happily ever after.
Marian Shaffer (above and at left) joined this love-struck group when she returned to UW-Green Bay to work on her M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy — a decision fueled by her love of studying the natural world. Her passion was awakened in her first undergraduate ecology course with Prof. Amy Wolf.
“Dr. Wolf was a fantastic mentor. She made me realize what really excites me and lit a flame within me, providing opportunities that forever changed my life and opened my eyes to the most amazing and rewarding career,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer works as an appointed research graduate assistant in the Natural and Applied Sciences department at UW-Green Bay. She feels fortunate that her appointment is in conjunction with and supported by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, where she has been working as a biological science technician since 2013.
Not only did UW-Green Bay open doors for Shaffer professionally, but romantically too. She says she met the love of her life while working on her master’s degree.
“He is one of the best things to ever come into my life,” she says. “Not only were we lucky enough to study and grow together during our time at UWGB, we were blessed to get jobs at the same conservation agency. Together, we are working to protect and conserve the habitat and animals in our beautiful Great Lakes.
Barbara Feeney is a two-time UW-Green Bay alum who left a piece of her heart on campus as an undergraduate and returned to capture the love she felt the first time around. Feeney earned her B.S. in Human Development and Urban Studies and returned to work on her Master’s in Administrative Science-Policy and Planning. She started at UW-Green Bay when the campus was transitioning from being a two-year college to a four-year college. Feeney was attracted by the unique identity the University was claiming for itself.
“At the time I started my master’s degree, I was living in Sturgeon Bay, and had two young children. So for me UW-Green Bay was the most practical choice,” Feeney said. Feeney ended up adoring the interdisciplinary education she received from UW-Green Bay, each time.
“I had so many great professors and classes,” she says. “Looking back from the vantage point of 40 years, I am grateful for the single classes I took in art history, pottery and poetry. I knew at the time that I was not going to major in those areas and took the classes out of interest, but exposure to those disciplines has enriched my life.”
And now she is thankful.
“I am so grateful for my education,” she says. “It allowed me to have a career that was interesting and challenging. Most days, I woke up looking forward to the day’s work ahead of me. When you think about it that is really kind of amazing.”
Ben Markowski also became a member of the beloved two-timers club. Markowski chose the University for his undergraduate and master’s studies because of the beautiful campus and the distinguished Education program.
“I loved the Education program and its faculty. Tim Kaufman, Steve Kimball, and James Coates were professors who really stuck out to me, they showed me the educational light,” Markowski said.
Markowski has a soft place in his heart for UW-Green Bay. He admits that during his time on campus, he learned to be himself, an important lesson that has served him well. His studies at UW-Green Bay gave him valuable work experience in the classroom. When he started teaching as a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Danz Elementary in Green Bay, he was well prepared.
“I am definitely living my happily ever after thanks to UWGB,” Markowski said.
So the old adage rings true, “Do what you love and never work a day in your life,” especially for these lucky in love UW-Green Bay alums!
— Story by Daniele Frechette.