Adult Degree grad gains confidence to explore the world

Balancing home life and two jobs while working toward her bachelor’s degree, Fay Lau went from trepidation about her academic ability to having a world of confidence.

Lau completed high school years ago but delayed her dream of a bachelor’s degree. Instead, she pursued two associate degrees, at Lakeshore Technical College and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

“I simply didn’t have the confidence to pursue a four-year degree,” says Lau, who is now a special education aide with the Denmark School District. “It was my students at Denmark whose questions about where I went to college made me feel that it was time that I took my own advice. So when my son was a junior in high school, I applied to UW-Green Bay’s Adult Degree Program.”

Why UW-Green Bay?

“I just think that UWGB had everything I needed to complete my degree,” she said. “I knew that I wanted a University of Wisconsin degree. And as a busy wife and mom working full time, I needed to access classes online, but I lived close enough to the University that I could take classes on campus, as well, and also take advantage of everything that UW-Green Bay has to offer. Finally, UWGB transferred in my technical college credits and I started at the University as a junior, saving me time and money.”

Lau has also worked for many years with the Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT) SHARE program, a non-profit organization which coordinates international exchange programs for high school students. Fay’s position with SHARE focuses on recruiting families to host international students. And true to her desire to “put her money where her mouth is,” Lau and her family began hosting international students when her son was in the fifth grade.

Lau’s passion for helping students and her love of learning about cultures, people and places around the world did not stop with her exchange students. Lau’s interest in education and international studies culminated into several experiences at UW-Green Bay that have shaped her life.

In a pivotal moment in her college career, she requested to do an Independent Study that took her to Budenheim, Germany to study the differences between German and American approaches to secondary education.

“I used this course to satisfy my World Culture requirement at UW-Green Bay and had the experience of a lifetime!”

She continued to broaden her understanding of international issues by completing a summer internship in UWGB’s Office of International Education.

As Lau prepares to proudly cross the stage for the Saturday, December 14, 2013 commencement, she can’t help but think about all the places she has gone and how far she has come. She will graduate summa cum laude this weekend with her Bachelor of Applied Studies degree, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a Human Development emphasis.

“My time with UW-Green Bay and the Adult Degree Program has helped me to move outside of my comfort zone,” she says. “My UWGB education made me try things that I may not have tried otherwise.”

The question of “what next” remains for this woman of new-found confidence.

“I plan to continue to travel, adding a summer 2014 trip to Brazil to a passport that already reflects trips to Germany, France, Italy and Belgium.

“The possibilities are endless now,” she says brightly. “I am even considering graduate school!”

“Ultimately, my long-term goal is to work with at-risk students. No matter how troubled a student is, I always try to see the good in each one of them. If I can make a difference in just a few kids’ lives, then my own life has had purpose.”

Story by Eric Craver, director of Marketing and Recruitment, UW-Green Bay’s Office of Outreach and Adult Education