Army reservist. Veteran. Philosopher. EMT. Firefighter. Psychology major. Taekwondo black belt. Stephen Jensen can lay claim to all these titles.
Today Jensen works as a state civilian employee for the 128th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard, where he is a crash fire rescue specialist.
As a 2004 Menominee High School graduate, Jensen continued his education at UW-Marinette (now UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus), unsure of what direction his life would take. “While I wasn’t the greatest student in high school, UW-Marinette was a great place to start my college experience. I can’t tell you how many times I went to see the writing or math tutor, but I grew because of it. I fell in love with learning just for the sake of it, and I was able to achieve goals that I didn’t know I was capable of. I never dreamed I would be a dean’s list student, but I was.”
After earning an Associate of Arts and Sciences Degree from UW-Marinette, he studied philosophy and psychology, completing his bachelor’s degree at Northern Michigan University. Next, he spent a semester at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in the emergency medical technician program. “The EMT instructors at NWTC were very down to earth, real-world oriented. I appreciate how they share their own experience with us and inspire confidence in their students.”
He spent some time at a fire academy in Detroit and then, Jensen says, “I ended up realizing that, as Plato suggested, philosophers should be warriors too, so I joined the army reserve. I was a top graduate in my fire academy class at the Department of Defense at Goodfellow Air Force Base and I was eventually deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan.”
Returning to the states, Jensen realized “firefighting was a career that I could imagine for myself in the long haul.”.
Through all his educational experiences, Jensen says he learned the value of dedication and hard work, spending many long nights in the library—even until closing. “It was great to see that hard work pay off.”
Jensen says he is glad he started local for college, because it provided smaller class sizes and more one-on-one time with instructors who cared about him and his success. Plus, he was able to work at a local manufacturing plant to pay for tuition and books. “Attending a local university and technical college was worth it for so many reasons, but also because I don’t owe a penny in student loans,” Jensen added.
What advice does he have for new college students? “Sit in the front rows. Pack your lunch and show up early. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to go to office hours or see the tutors. If you want to be successful, go against the grain,” said Jensen.
NWTC Marinette and UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus cheer on the great work Jensen has accomplished and continues to do for his community. He is one of many students that the institutions are proud to call alumni.
The Marinette Area Higher Education Coalition is a collaboration between NWTC Marinette and UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus designed to provide a seamless student experience and accessible higher education to anyone in the Marinette area. Those enrolled at either college have the unique opportunity to access resources and services at either campus as well as transfer select degrees from NWTC Marinette to UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus. Visit nwtc.edu/Coalition and uwgb.edu/Coalition for more information on the coalition and its collaborations.