Community and support are the two words that come to mind when Don Engebregtsen ’08 & ’12 (UW-Marinette Associate Degree & UW-Green Bay B.S. Elementary Education) reflects on his time at the UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus [at the time UW-Marinette].
The once class clown explains, “My first semester was the most eye-opening. I hit a wall. In high school, I knew what I was doing.” Engebregtsen goes on to describe how he would have been eaten alive at a larger, less personal university since he wasn’t mentally prepared for the rigor right out of high school.
Engebregtsen shares that the faculty and staff at the Marinette Campus genuinely care about students. He talked about his experience meeting with his advisor, Cindy Bailey (now Marinette Campus CEO), about his 0.9 GPA. “Not every university has advisors that would tell you that you need to shape up. She told me, ‘There isn’t much we can do with that. You have to do a lot better in order to stay here.’ That was a punch to my jaw. It was then I realized I was ignoring all my dreams and aspirations. I had to wake up and do better.”
From there, Engebregtsen took advantage of all the campus had to offer. Being an off-campus student, the library quickly became one of his favorite places. “Not only was the library the foundation of where I could work and focus, it was also a place for me to connect with friends, work on projects, and relax, enjoying all the beautiful views.”
He was also encouraged by his mom and all she did to raise him and his siblings, “Watching her work ethic transpire to provide for us is very motivating. She is a very influential person in my life by showing me work ethic and never giving up to provide for your family.”
Engebregtsen now works as a middle school science teacher at his alma mater (Coleman School District) and fondly recollected the appreciation he gained for people as a collective due to the diversity of University students from all over the US and world. His peers gave him a good perspective of how the students would be in his classroom (with different backgrounds and stories) while the faculty/staff showed him how to help his students write the next chapter in their stories.
“We just need to love each other. I learned how to care for the kids as humans, not just students. It’s a testimony to the Marinette Campus and the connections made with people who genuinely care about you.”
In the classroom, he says that teachers are like mood-rings, explaining, “You don’t want the students to see when you are having a bad day, but they’re able to read right through the good and the bad. It’s really cool to see how they can pick you up from a bad mood or put a smile on your face when you need it. I truly enjoy going to school each day to spend time with my students.”
When Engebregtsen first started working at Coleman, he coached basketball, baseball, and Jr. High track. Since having a family of his own, he decided to take a step back to focus on being the best dad he could be. “I try to be involved with my family as much as I can. Our family has faced a lot of adversities on top of the pandemic, so we live one day at a time, thanking God for each moment together, and finding fun experiences to do together.”
A rocky start doesn’t guarantee a failed ending. Engebregtsen is a prime example of how your education is all about growth and progress, not perfection. He hopes for more students to realize that the Marinette Campus is a great place to start, “I wouldn’t be where I am today. It was small enough to get to know people on a personal level. They will be in your corner, encouraging you and pushing you to succeed.”
Written by Kaitlyn O’Claire, Campus Executive Officer Assistant, UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus