After tragedy struck; Deborah Joling chose to RISE

The story of the Phoenix is one of constant deaths and rebirths; a cycle of overcoming and rising to new heights. It’s safe to say that UW-Green Bay alumna Deborah Joling is a rising Phoenix in her own right. Joling (Organizational Leadership) graduated in 2019 and currently works for the Gateway Technical College as a new student specialist. She considers UW-Green Bay her saving grace, helping her through the toughest time in her life—when she lost her significant other while trying to finish her degree.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Diet Coke and more Diet Coke. Joking. The love of my family and friends.

What keeps you up at night?
Feeling like there is always so much more to give back to the world—that I should be doing something to inspire others to keep going no matter how tough it seems.

Why will you never stop learning?
Learning is the fuel that keeps us young. My grandma was a trailblazer of her era in the 1950s. When she wanted her house wired, she learned how to do it. In the 80s when computing came to be, she took college classes to learn. Her continual learning and can-do attitude have always inspired me to continually aspire to learn.

What have you learned recently?
I started in a role as an admissions counselor for our college and while I thought I knew everything there was to know about Gateway – there was so much more to learn and always will be and I love it!

How has your education ignited your personal growth?
It has allowed me to move forward in my career and to learn things that I never would have ventured to learn without my education.

What is higher education’s biggest challenge?
Giving the students the skills to think for themselves and the courage to speak up for what they believe in. I feel that often students feel that they need to go along with the movement and not share their view or perspective. And, without those varied perspectives, I think the richness of education is minimized.

What’s your RISE story?
Leaving college two years after high school to conquer the world in business left me degree-less and unable to seek the goals, I had set for myself. I was married and left an abusive relationship with two children, ages 1 and 3. I always knew it was important to show them that with hard work and education, you can do anything! They both have graduated with law degrees, so it must have stuck. I struggled to get my degree through the years battling a divorce costing over 100k. I was also working full-time and being a single mom involved in all the activities of active boys. It was a long battle.

I found UW-Green Bay online while my boys were in high school and during the last semester of completing my degree, my fiancé passed away unexpectedly from a blood clot. My world changed and I was not able to finish out that semester. At that point, I thought I would never graduate. But with the love and support of family and the amazing faculty and staff at UW-Green Bay, I was able to rise to the challenge and was thrilled to become a UW-Green Bay alum.

Life can throw some unreal and unexpected curve balls, but with encouragement and support, you can rise and knock it out of the park. Don’t be afraid to strike out, just stay in the game as long as it takes, and you will be ecstatic at victory.

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