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Inclusion inspires new nurse’s innovation, compassion

Isis Judith Lozano liked the fact that UWM was so welcoming to first-generation students like herself.

By Kathy Quirk | Photo By Peter Jakubowski

Isis Judith Lozano
Degree: BS Nursing
Hometown: Milwaukee
It’s a Fact: UWM’s diversity was one of the attractions for her.

Isis Judith Lozano liked the fact that UWM was so welcoming to first-generation students like herself.

But, she was concerned that one tradition in her field of nursing – the pinning ceremony – didn’t meet the needs of those students.

So she looked at ways to change that, and succeeded in starting a new tradition for the ceremony.

In the traditional pinning ceremony, a family member who is an RN is invited to place a pin on a graduate’s collar, signifying entry into the profession. If no family member is available, the dean of the College of Nursing can do the pinning.

“Many of our students are the first from their families to graduate from college so this tradition left out many of those who helped and supported us,” says Lozano. “It didn’t seem to fit with the diversity of the university.”

Lozano had no family member who could to do the pinning. She really wanted her mentor, UWM alumna Arsha Hayalian, RN, to do the honor.

“She was always there to help me all through the program,” says Lozano, who is working 24 hours a week in the Heart Failure Unit at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center. She will take a full-time position there after she graduates.

So she researched the history of mentoring and the pinning ceremony, then presented to the college a proposal to adapt the ceremony to better reflect the important role professional mentors play. The change was approved and will be reflected in the next pinning ceremony, on May 10.

Lozano is part of a group of nursing students in the Nursing Endeavor Program (NEP), designed to encourage students from underrepresented backgrounds to become nurses. Each student was assigned a mentor; Hayalian is Lozano’s.

“She helped and guided me in the profession,” says Lozano. “She would give me advice on the classes and helped me develop my skills. That’s why I wanted her to be the one to welcome me to the profession at the pinning ceremony.”

Lozano loved science in high school, but wanted to go into a profession where she could work with people, particularly underrepresented people including those from her own Mexican culture and community.

She had several family members who were nursing assistants, so she believed the field would be a good fit for both her scientific interests and her people skills. “I liked the diversity of UWM, had heard it had a good program, and I wanted to stay close to home.”

Lozano, who is bilingual, also felt there was a great need for Spanish-speaking nurses. Her parents came to Milwaukee from Mexico, attended college, but weren’t able to finish. However, they always encouraged their daughter to go on to college.

Lozano herself has served as a peer mentor in the NEP program, received a number of scholarships and attended the WSNA (Wisconsin Student Nurses Association) conference several times, representing NEP and UWM.

She’s proud she was able to update a tradition in her new profession.

“I wanted to do this not just for me, but for all other first generation students,” says Lozano.


A career turning point fueled the fire for an MPA

A fourth-generation firefighter, Aaron Lipski loves the profession he has practiced for 17 years with the Milwaukee Fire Department

By Laura L. Otto | Photo By Peter Jakubowski

Aaron Lipski
Degree: Master of Public Administration
Hometown: Milwaukee
It’s a fact: He co-chaired the American Lung Association’s annual “Fight for Air Climb” fundraiser in Milwaukee this year. Like a lot of local firefighters, he has participated in this event for the last six years, completing the challenge of climbing 94 flights of stairs in the US Bank Center.

A fourth-generation firefighter, Aaron Lipski loves the profession he has practiced for 17 years with the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD).

But in any career, change will come. For Lipski it came in the form of a promotion that involved administrative and managerial duties that were new to him as he took charge of the division responsible for MFD’s fleet, facilities and supply purchasing.

Lipski, Deputy Chief of the Firefighting Division, suddenly had to tackle the tasks necessary to run a business, only his domain is in the public sector.

“Overnight I was put in charge of handling multimillion-dollar budgets,” he recalls. “I needed help just to be able to speak the language with comptrollers and administrators at the city.”

Using the resourcefulness found at the heart of firefighter training and the work ethic instilled by his family, Lipski began searching for the help that would allow him to thrive in his new role. He found it in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) joint degree program offered by the UWM College of Letters & Science and the Lubar School of Business.

“I went looking for such a degree program out of sheer necessity,” he says. “I’ve never had anything that I needed so immediately.”

He remembers sitting in a class taught by Associate Professor John Bohte and listening to the lesson on municipal budgets and finance. “Dr. Bohte was showing us how to do something that had been frustrating me that very day at work,” says Lipski. “I took all the handouts from class with me to work the following day.

“I’ve had this experience over and over again during the process of getting this degree,” he says. “It was uncanny.”

Relatively few UWM students finishing their bachelor’s degrees are aware of the MPA, says Bohte, but the timing is right for finding jobs in the field. Local governments are looking for talented people as baby boomers in the workforce retire.

“The majority of students coming into the program directly after finishing their undergraduate degrees have found good-paying jobs as budget/management analysts and assistant village managers throughout southeastern Wisconsin,” he says.

A degree of his own

Lipski was a child witness to his father and grandfather’s stream of profession-related injuries, so he at first rejected the idea of a fire-fighting career. And his elders did not push him.

Instead, Lipski was expected to go to college, and he initially enrolled at UWM after high school. But a casual visit to an information session at his father’s fire house sparked a change of heart.

“After that, it was like someone had turned on a light switch. I’ve been ‘all in’ ever since,” he says.

His parents, however, continued to encourage him to finish his bachelor’s degree in communications, which he did in 2001. The master’s degree, as Lipski views it, was his own professional rescue unit.

In addition to skills like accounting, procurement and union relations, Lipski learned the less obvious aspects of public administration – for example, handling the politics that frequently figure into public policy.

But he also discovered his own role. In preparing budget documents for the Milwaukee Common Council to consider, he says, it isn’t enough just to put the numbers in front of them.

“I’ve realized that the department fits into a bigger picture – one of a large collection of governmental agencies,” he says. “We have to make that work for us. Trust is such a huge factor in the process.”

Heeding the call to help leads to degree no. 2, dream job no. 1

After he graduates in May with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, Michael Wilson will continue to combine his personal goals with a profound desire to help others

By Alex Vagelatos | Photo By Peter Jakubowski

Michael Wilson
Degree: BS Biomedical Sciences, submajor in Medical Laboratory Science
Hometown: Milwaukee
It’s a fact: He originally wanted to be an architect like his father.

While a student at Milwaukee’s Rufus King International High School, Michael Wilson didn’t separate his aspirations from those around him. As a member of the National Scholars Honor Society, Wilson kept his grades high while volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, among other community efforts.

After he graduates in May with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, Wilson will continue to combine his personal goals with a profound desire to help others.

Wilson will become a medical laboratory scientist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa. He will help conduct laboratory tests that will directly affect the care and treatment of the young patients there.

After considering several post-graduation jobs in his field, he couldn’t be happier.

“At Children’s Hospital, they showed us that they really care about the children they care for. I was drawn to work there and to be part of the great things they are doing,” Wilson said.

Wilson already held an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from UW-Madison when he enrolled in the UWM College of Health Science’s Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program several years ago. He took a job as a lab assistant at ACL Laboratories at Aurora West Allis Medical Center. Wilson still planned to work at that job until graduation, while also working in the laboratory in a school-related clinical rotation at Children’s Hospital. A typical recent day for Wilson was working at the two jobs from 7 a.m. through 10:30 p.m., and still finding time for his studies.

Along with an occasional workout at the gym to “relieve stress.”

“Michael has been a very hard-working, motivated student. He takes pride in his work and is excited to be working in a profession that allows him to follow his passion in life of helping and serving others,” said Cindy Brown, undergraduate programs director in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Graduation will mean only one job for Wilson – but it’s the one he wanted the most.

“All seniors in the MLS program had to interview for their senior-year clinical experience, and when Children’s Hospital picked me, I was very grateful and thankful,” said Wilson.

His parents, immigrants to Milwaukee from Jamaica, inspired the 27-year-old’s passion for the medical field. An older brother, Desmond, is a UWM alumnus.

“My parents always instilled in us the value of education and of helping people and of never settling for anything but the very best. That’s why I wanted to get involved in the medical field.”

Wilson’s affection for medicine was only strengthened during volunteer work in Madison. In addition to mentoring other UW-Madison students, he volunteered at Meriter Hospital in that city, reading to youngsters and assisting wheelchair-bound patients around the hospital.

“Medicine and patient care is a very rewarding area. You are really making a difference in helping people to be happy and healthy. Even among your own family, there are things that you can do for them with your knowledge,” he said.

Wilson said he might consider other careers in medicine, up to and including medical school. For now, he is looking forward to working the “really crucial hours” of third shift in the Children’s Hospital laboratory.

He is even taking a week off before he starts. “No travel plans,” he said. “I’m just glad to have the time off.”

The ‘real world’ is already familiar to architecture grad

While it’s not unusual for architecture undergraduates to be consumed by their courses, Aubree Park has aimed for full immersion.

By Laura L. Otto | Photo By Peter Jakubowski

Aubree Park
Degree: BS Architectural Studies
Hometown: Appleton
It’s a fact: The inspiration she had for the rocking chair she designed as a freshman was a plant emerging from a seed. She got to go to the Nemschoff factory and see the chair being made to human-scale.

While it’s not unusual for architecture undergraduates to be consumed by their courses (which are called “studios”), Aubree Park has aimed for full immersion.

The result has been a rich college journey with many high points, she says.

One was landing two full-ride scholarships, freeing her from having to work long hours while also going to school.

Another was winning a chair design competition as a freshman and having her entry turned into a full-scale chair courtesy of Nemschoff, a Sheboygan-based furniture company.

Now she is taking a studio co-taught by famed Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, winner of the Marcus Prize that is given to the industry’s rising stars.


Aubree Park’s prize-winning “leaf chair.”

But the pinnacle of her experiences, says Park, was a trip to New York she took with the course on Building Information Modeling (BIM) taught by Associate Professor Gil Snyder. BIM is a process that allows various stakeholders to remotely collaborate in real time on a single building project by using specialized software.

What makes the BIM studio so valuable is that it offers interaction with architects at Milwaukee’s Eppstein Uhen Architects, the studio’s sponsor. And the course gives students rare direct contact with other professionals who work closely with architects, such as structural engineers.

It is the ultimate “real-world” experience.

Park helps maintain BIM software at HGA Architects and Engineers, the firm where she’s held a second internship for more than a year. Now, the firm has just hired her as a full-time architectural intern, paying Park as she accumulates the more than 5,000 intern development hours required to become an architect.

Key lesson: don’t wait

Ultimately, it was her internships that led her to a job. Because architecture undergrads have to complete a large number of internship hours as part of their training, she had figured out the importance of finding one early – her sophomore rather than her senior year.

After blanketing the city with her resume, Park discovered the power of personal connection. She met hers while working part-time at the UWM Alumni Association, which funded one of her scholarships. Allyson Nemec of Quorum Architects was president of the association’s board of directors.

“You’re not going to get a job in architecture just based on the work you’ve done in school,” says Park.

“The architecture community is fairly small around Milwaukee and you have to go out and meet the people in it. Obviously you also have to have a supporting portfolio. But you also have to network.”

A memorable campus visit

Park says she didn’t become interested in architecture until late in high school when she connected her love of math with an interest in art and design.

“I chose UWM because it’s the only accredited school of architecture in the state,” she says. “But I would have come here anyway because it is just the right distance from my parent’s home in Appleton.”

Chuck Schuster, recently retired director of UWM’s Honors College, sealed the deal. The few non-architecture courses Park took at UWM were those offered through Honors College, in which the class sizes are small and students get more individual attention from faculty.

“The very first tour I took at UWM was with Chuck,” she says. “He made me feel so wanted here. Now I love to do the same for other prospective students. I will always agree to talk to high school students who are interested in UWM.”

College close to home opened doors to China, Cairo, and two degrees

It’s been an intense five years for econ/international studies double major Camille Ridgeway.

By Angela McManaman | Photo By Peter Jakubowski

Camille Ridgeway
Degree: BA Economics, BA International Studies
Hometown: Milwaukee
It’s a Fact: From 2010-12, Camille Ridgeway played first violin in the University Community Orchestra at UWM.

Between her resumé and her passport, it’s been an intense five years for econ/international studies double major Camille Ridgeway. She served in student government and interned for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

She learned conversational Mandarin in China. She avidly recalls the intense energy of Tahrir Square, 2012, as a UWM junior in Cairo.

“It’s a tenuous situation being an American in Egypt. Things can get intense very quickly.”

But what she remembers most vividly is the thriving community surrounding Tahrir Square: artists, protestors, performers, the museum.

“The Egyptian Museum is left completely untouched. There could be fighting all day, but no one would touch the museum.”

Not bad for someone who went to college just a few blocks from her parents’ home, and just down the street from her high school alma mater, Riverside University High School. In fact, her road to the Middle East began there.

Riverside high achievers are invited to take a course at UWM their senior year. Enthralled by the language’s elaborate, elegant script, Ridgeway took an intro course in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

But MSA study only goes so far outside the college classroom, as Ridgeway learned her first week in Egypt.

“Egyptian or Tunisian dialects are completely different from the Arabic I had just spent three years learning.”

Student life in Milwaukee was equally complex – her preference – for the Chancellor’s Diversity and Leadership Scholar.

Two years as the Student Association Finance Committee chair gave Ridgeway a front-row view of the segregated-fee allocation process.

“It’s one of the more vocal positions in student government and a committee that works intimately with the university administration. There can be some disagreements, but I’d like to think I set the stage for students to be more active in their university’s affairs in a more critical and constructive way.”

Her interest in economics truly flourished in the McNair Scholars Program, where she studied Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Middle East with UWM Economics Professor Swarnjit Arora.

“I learned to think of FDI as a gateway indicator that tells you everything you need to know about the health of a country’s economic and political situation.”

Eager to test her knowledge in a professional setting, Ridgeway landed a 2013 internship with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Milwaukee Export Assistance Center.

Synthesizing declassified intelligence data, marketing leads and supplier information on business markets abroad occupied the first semester of her senior year. Her work proved useful to the center’s client base of Milwaukee companies looking to expand exports.

“That’s been a game changer for me, applying what I’ve learned in my degree programs to work with real companies that have real needs.”

Next is a year of reflection and preparation as Ridgeway applies to political economy PhD programs. The ideal program will blend data mining and statistical analysis with cultural studies, negotiation and interpersonal communications.

Her target schools are in Chicago, D.C. and New York. Her applications are well under way: GREs taken, letters and statement of purpose completed. Much of that process was funded and supported by McNair. “One of the things I value most about my time at UWM is the McNair Program,” Ridgeway now says.

Her world-view, of course, is evolving.

“I was definitely not in the Middle East long enough to say I ran the place,” Ridgeway laughs. “But my time in Cairo inspired me to see the region for what it is and what it isn’t. I’ve realized how I interpret things is so dependent on my American identity.

“I’m working on how to take that lens off, to be more neutral and less biased.”