Ellen Edison, a May 2015 UW-Green Bay graduate and standout student-athlete for Green Bay women’s basketball received the Horizon League’s highest individual honor yesterday — the Cecil N. Coleman Medal of Honor. The Coleman Medal of Honor is presented annually to the league’s top male and female student-athletes who best exemplify the dignity and high purpose of the League and its membership. The individuals demonstrate outstanding achievement in academics, athletics and extracurricular activities. Edison graduated summa cum laude with honors in the Human Biology major. Read more.
More than 250 people turned out for the May 2015 Honors Graduate Reception hosted by UW-Green Bay Friday, May 15, in the grand foyer of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. The event welcomed about 80 May graduates who would be graduating the following day with summa, magna or cum laude honors. They were joined by family members in town for the big weekend, and faculty and staff extending best wishes. Speakers during a brief program included Chancellor Gary L. Miller, Dean of Students Brenda Amenson-Hill, outgoing SGA President Vanya Koepke and Alumni Relations Director Kari Moody. Moody said the event, tried for the first time with the December 2014 honors grads, appears to have a bright future as a permanent part of Commencement weekend. The Alumni Association views it as an opportunity to connect with some of its newest members, and the many out-of-town visitors (including some online students who had visited campus rarely if at all) said they enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with members of the UW-Green Bay community.
– Photos by Kelly Selner, Office of University Advancement
Editor’s note: For an enlarged version — which shows a current day aerial of campus and the Les Raduenz Woods (outlined in green) with inset images from 1960 (pre-campus and mostly farm fields) and 1992 (transitional stage of arboretum development) — click on image above.
A ceremony was held Friday (May 15) to dedicate “Les Raduenz Woods,” a 22-acre forest/woodland south of Circle Drive across from the Office of Facilities Management. Raduenz was a central figure in development of the Cofrin Arboretum and UW-Green Bay campus for 35 years. He retired in 2006 as director of Facilities Management, a position he held for 12 years. Raduenz took a special interest in this area, overseeing a tree planting program that has led to its conversion into an early successional woodland and, eventually, an extension of Mahon Woods, one of the Arboretum’s most important natural features. Others who contributed significantly to the development of Les Raduenz Woods included faculty members Dr. Keith White, Dr. Paul Sager, and founding Chancellor Edward Weidner; Facilities Management staff members Mike Vanlanen, Lylas Dequaine, Dennis Nellis, Jim Stiefvater, and Paul Pinkston; and students like Neil Diboll, who eventually became a pioneer in ecological restoration through the establishment of his company, Prairie Nursery, located near Westfield, Wis.
Five UW-Green Bay student-athletes have been recognized as members of the 2015 Winter Academic All-Horizon League Teams. The teams, which represent success in competition as well as in the classroom, were voted on by the league’s faculty athletics representatives and athletics communications directors. Earning academic all-league honors for the Phoenix were women’s basketball’s Megan Lukan, Communication and Business Administration; and swimming and diving’s Claire Friederick, Human Biology; Tanner Nordlund, Business Administration; James Wise (undeclared) and Ryan Korslin, Human Development.
The campus chapter of NRHH – the National Residence Hall Honorary – has informed student Allie Saxton that she has been chosen executive board member of the month. Her nominators praised her “extraordinary leadership skills in her role as president of the (Residence Life) Phase 2 Community Council,” and in organizing major events, reaching out to involve all members in meetings and activities, and recruiting new members and leaders to the organization.
Tuesday brought another prestigious honor for Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.), who was named an honorable mention selection for the Associated Press 2014-15 All-America Team. The point guard joins Tony Bennett as the only players in program history to earn the distinction in two seasons.
The UW-Green Bay chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America earned top prize in the Edelman Case Studies Competition in Chicago on March 20 and 21. The competition took place at the regional competition hosted by the student chapters of Loyola University and Columbia College, and brought together students from across the region to learn, discuss and compete.
During the case study competition, students competed in teams to find the best solution for the proposed client. Teams then presented to a judging panel of executives from Edelman Public Relations, the world’s largest public relations firm, with more than 5,000 employees in 65 cities.
Communication major Taylor Thomson, president of the UW-Green Bay PRSSA chapter, headed a team that included executive board and chapter members William Canzoneri, Leah Christianson, Sally Henne, Michael Kinscher, Emily Schuh, Katelyn Staaben and Katie Vlachina.
The success in Chicago continues a run of strategic thinking, training and application opportunities at which UW-Green Bay Communication students have excelled.
Earlier this semester, the UW-Green Bay PRSSA group was retained by the state Red Cross, of Madison, to devise a public relations and communication campaign for blood donation awareness on college campuses.
The student organization was chartered January 24, 2014. The chapter has already successfully completed one project for the UW-Green Bay Admissions department; the planning of Communication Preview Day, and has attended several national and regional conferences. With these early accomplishments, the chapter has grown to nearly two dozen, dues-paying members.
The 2015 awards committee for WAND — the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — has made a habit of honoring UW-Green Bay students and staff in handing out its annual awards. It’ll hold true again at the 2015 Awards Luncheon to be held during the WAND Annual Conference Friday, April 17, in Elkhart Lake. Those being honored will include:
• Outstanding Dietetics Student of the Year — Joyce Whitchurch, dietetic intern
• Outstanding Dietetics Student of the Year — Janelle Schirmer, undergraduate student
• Outstanding Dietetic Educator — Shelly Gabel, Dietetic Internship Director
‘Twas the night before commencement, and all through the house… award-winning UW-Green Bay students were feted at special receptions on campus for top members of the December 2014 graduating class. A pair of on-campus receptions on Friday, Dec. 12, brought together students, friends, family and UWGB official to celebrate. The events honored students earning cum laude, magna and summa cum laude distinction at Saturday’s graduation ceremony, as well as individuals nominated and selected to receive the Chancellor’s Medallion and University Leadership Awards.
Ask Dr. Tina Sauerhammer about the seminal moments in her life, and the answer may surprise you.
She won’t, as one might rightly expect, start with being part of the surgical team that performed the first-ever full face transplant in the United States in 2011. She’ll gloss over the fact that she entered college at 14, graduated at 18 and completed medical school at just 22. She might mention her tenure as Miss Wisconsin, but only because it allowed her to advocate for organ donation, a cause about which she remains deeply and personally passionate. Fortuitous opportunities, she’ll say. Right place, right time.
What she will point to is her May 2011 UW-Green Bay commencement speech, given just weeks after the groundbreaking transplant surgery at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“I would say that one of the pinnacles of everything, was coming back to give that speech,” says Sauerhammer. “Even more so than the face transplant, because it felt like everything I had accomplished up to that point came full circle.”
If coming back to speak at commencement was one highlight, coming back for good may just be another — and not just for Sauerhammer. In June, Prevea Health announced it had hired her to become the first fellowship-trained pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in Northeastern Wisconsin. She began her practice at the end of September.
In its own way, it’s a notable free-agent signing for Titletown and one of its other signature industries, health care. Sauerhammer represents a welcome influx of talent, and she will build her fan base one family, one young patient at a time. She’s thrilled to be home — and eager to start making a difference.
“It’s kind of indescribable,” says Sauerhammer, who most recently was practicing in Washington, D.C. “I see parents who find out their child has a cleft lip and there’s so much that’s unknown for them. One of the most rewarding things is to be able to reassure parents and educate them about what we can do to improve their child’s quality of life.
“And their son or daughter will go on to live a normal life, just like any other child. … Once you operate on a child, they’re your patient for life.”
Sauerhammer’s pediatric plastic surgery work runs the gamut from repairing cleft lips and palates to working on dog bites, fixing congenital deformities, working with burn injuries, removing extra digits and much more. Having her back home in Green Bay is a tremendous boon for the area, says Dr. Ashok Rai, Prevea Health President and CEO.
“Dr. Sauerhammer is just one of a handful of physicians in the state to be as skilled as she is in the area of pediatric, plastic reconstructive surgery,” Rai observes. “Prevea is very fortunate that she has decided to come back home to Green Bay and join a health care organization that truly cares for this town.”
‘She fit in perfectly’
It’s a town Sauerhammer knows well, having been born and raised in Green Bay with a Midwest work ethic she still credits — along with her hardworking parents — with instilling the drive that helped her get where she is today. Sauerhammer attended Montessori school and completed her high school coursework at 14. From there, her options were to go on to regular high school, attend a preparatory school out east or head right to college. Knowing she wanted to be a doctor, and knowing how much schooling that would take, she chose the third option — attending UW-Green Bay would allow her to live at home while she navigated life as the University’s youngest-ever undergrad.
Sauerhammer’s enrollment raised some eyebrows — even some of her friends, she said, questioned her decision and told her she wouldn’t make it. The University asked Associate Prof. Donna Ritch — now the Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — to keep an eye on Sauerhammer, and make sure she was adjusting OK.
Sitting in her office in Theatre Hall, Ritch recalls checking in on Sauerhammer while she was taking a summer biology course before her first full semester.
“She and the other students were out in the hall — they must have had a break in lab,” Ritch said. “And she was just talking away to them. I went back to my office and said ‘there’s no worries there.’ She fit in. She fit in perfectly.”
That initial interaction would form the basis for a mentorship and friendship that persists today. It would be a few years before Sauerhammer had Ritch as a professor, and by that point the pair had become close friends.
“She’s always there for you, motivating you and helping you attain your goals,” Sauerhammer said. “She was awesome as a professor, but whenever I think about Dr. Ritch — she was my mentor and pre-med adviser.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”
Nor, Sauerhammer said, would she be where she is without UW-Green Bay. The moderate campus size was just right for a teenager who had never even attended a traditional high school, and the relationships she formed — especially with Ritch, but also with other professors — are, for her, truly what sets the University apart.
“All of my professors… I probably remember every single one of my professors’ names to this day,” she said, “and I don’t think a lot of people can say that about their school. I always
reference Dr. Ritch because we have such a special relationship, but that being said, every single teacher has touched me or molded me in some way.”
Sauerhammer’s age was never an issue, Ritch recalls — many people knew how young she was, but with her academic and social skills she was, in many ways, just like any other student. That is, until it came time to take her driver’s test.
“I had a Physics quiz,” Sauerhammer says, laughing. “I had to ask Dr. Fischbach if I could be excused from a Physics quiz. And he said, ‘sure — but just don’t take a left turn.’ And I passed.”
Heartbreaking loss … and a new opportunity
UW-Green Bay’s youngest graduate ever in 1999, Sauerhammer enrolled in medical school at UW-Madison. On commencement day four years later, she again claimed the “youngest ever” distinction, this time at a place with a 100-year tradition.
Always focused on her goal of becoming a doctor and working with children, she did experience one change of heart. She was following a track toward general pediatrics until a surgery rotation during her third year of med school changed her mind. Sauerhammer started a general surgery residency that included a rotation in plastic surgery.
“I saw my first cleft lip repair and I just completely fell in love with it,” she said. “I got to work with kids and do surgery, but these kids were for the most part healthy. And it was very technical — but the other part about pediatric plastic surgery that I loved is that not only can you help children locally, but you can go on mission trips and provide these services to children in other countries.”
Sauerhammer was in Madison for about a decade before departing for the east coast. And although she had happily discovered her passion by the time she left Wisconsin, the journey was not without its challenges. When she was a fourth-year medical student, her father, Randy, died from complications of a rare autoimmune illness called Wegener’s disease. He was on the wait list for a kidney transplant that could have saved his life.
She wanted to quit — but her mother, Oki, insisted she stay the course. It’s what her father would have wanted, she said. So Sauerhammer finished medical school — but wasn’t yet emotionally ready to continue with her training.
So she took a year off before starting her residency in general surgery — and won the title of Miss Wisconsin 2003.
“My main goal that entire year was to promote organ and tissue donation,” she said, “so that’s what led me to Miss Wisconsin. But that year, I grew as a person. It’s made me a better physician, being able to interact with people from all walks of life, and to promote something that I felt very strongly about.
“And that has really opened so many doors, too. All of that, I attribute to my father.”
A community ‘that means so much to me’
Sauerhammer relished her time living and working out east, but soon, she found home was calling — both personally and professionally.
“I feel it is important to leave and get those experiences and training,” she said, “and the best thing I can do is bring everything that I’ve learned back home, and share it with the community that means so much to me.”
She’s had a great time getting reacquainted with that community, spending time with her mom, hitting up the Green Bay Farmer’s Market, taking in a Green Bay Packers game — and even, she says with a smile, running into people who were friends with her dad. When she sat down in her office for a September interview with UW-Green Bay’s Inside magazine, she was still in the process of unpacking — and more nervous about navigating the building and learning the computer system than starting her practice and meeting her first patients. For that, she couldn’t wait.
Sauerhammer’s affable manner comes through immediately — despite her accomplishments, she is humble and friendly. Again, Randy and Oki get the credit.
“My dad worked at a paper mill; my mom is a seamstress,” she said. “I didn’t grow up with much but what little my parents had, they always wanted to make sure I had the best education.
“My mom always tells me, ‘dreams are not free.’ You can have goals, but you have to work hard to achieve those goals. And with my Green Bay upbringing — that’s why I am the way I am. I wasn’t given everything and I appreciate the hard work it takes to achieve those goals.”
Her goal now? To give back — and to ensure that for the first time, children in Northeastern Wisconsin have access to the kind of care she can provide. And to reconnect with the places that gave Sauerhammer her start.
“I owe everything I have to this day (to) my education at UWGB,” she said. “I literally would not be where I am today without it.
“I owe so much — and I just want to give back, not only to the community of Green Bay, but also to UWGB.” — Kelly Moore