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MMA fighter, father of triplets, future teacher each honored at UWM commencement

MMA fighter, father of triplets, future teacher each honored at UWM commencement


When I first got to Milwaukee, I was terrified. I didn’t know anybody, I was really shy. UWM really brought me out
of my shell. My name is Leah Letson. I’m graduating with
a criminal justice and psychology degree with a minor in sociology. I’ve been in Taekwondo since I was 5 years
old, and so when I got to UW-Milwaukee, I wanted to find
another martial art that I could get into. The Sport and Rec Department offered jiu jitsu
and mixed martial arts, so I decided, why not try it while I’m here. I absolutely fell in love with the sport. Winning my first fight,
the experience was amazing. As soon as I walked out of the cage I knew for sure
that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Well, for as long as I can do it. I have always
been interested in making a difference and making a contribution to my country. I am
in the Wisconsin Air National Guard and I am a surveillance technician. I’m really proud that I can
serve my country. Graduation means a lot to me because I am the first person in my
immediate family to graduate from college. With the military, and
fighting and everything going on outside of school, it means a lot that I was able
to accomplish two majors. UWM has been the place that has really transformed
me from the young, shy, 18-year-old, into the adult, airman, professional athlete and role
model I am today. What I really love about the idea of being
a teacher, it’s those small moments where you’re helping out a student and they finally get it. That’s
definitely the most rewarding thing. I’m Tim Steen. I’m a secondary education major at
the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. My first day student teaching, at
Alexander Hamilton High School, I was definitely nervous to some extent, but at the same time, for me, that represented the
beginning of my final year of myself being a student. It kind of marked the last
part of the journey before I move on and become a professional myself. Most likely,
I’m going to stay here in Milwaukee. My expectation is I’ll fine a job at MPS. I grew up
going to MPS schools all my life, so I guess I kind of feel like this is a way
I can maybe give back to the community that I was raised in. I was for a long time
working 40 hours a week, paying for a lot of schooling myself.
Scholarships make this whole experience possible for a lot of people, and it
provides the type of assistance that is necessary to allow people to pursue some
of these higher goals that they have. For me, graduating, it represents being able to
do something not only that I think I can do well, but something I can enjoy. Go get Daddy, go get Daddy, go get Daddy. Balancing a full-time job, being a dad, work
and school, you know, it’s a lot, it’s a lot on my plate. We’ve got four kids. Lily, who
just turned three in March, and identical triplet boys who are about 18 months
old. My name is Bryan Weichelt. I’m working my PhD in biomedical and health
informatics. UWM has been fantastic. I know I’m three hours away from campus but I was
excited to be able to join a nationally renowned program and do
research at UWM while still working at Marshfield Clinic. I was fortunate that I was
able to finish up a lot of the coursework for this particular program right before the
boys were born. Then we
took home. About ten days later, they started acting a little differently. They
went through a period of tests that kind of drug on for the next two
months. They were positive for Human Parechovirus Type 3. There’s no treatment
for it, no vaccination. I spent a lot of time in the hospital during that period. It
was like a short-term internship as well. It was a great learning experience, as bad
of an experience as it was, it was good for me to soak that in and then I
ended up using some of that in my dissertation work. And it certainly
framed who I am and why I chose to do research the way I did. The outlook is
kind of unknown at this point. They’re very different where they’re at and
we’re trying to just celebrate those those little milestones as they go.
The ability to finish this doctoral program in spite of everything else going on in
my life, I don’t know if it’s so much a testament to me, but it’s certainly a
testament to my wife and the sacrifices she made along the way. We always thought
that the year in Iraq would be the hardest time for our family. But, the flexibility of UWM, and working with my advisor and
committee on the project was fantastic.

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