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Our Alums . . . Their Stories

We have reasons to be proud of our HBSSW alumni. Many of these former students have pursued not only their degrees, but also their dreams. They have left us to enrich their lives, as well as their communities.

CJ Grad Helps Thwart Terrorist Attack on NYC

CJ Student Thwarts Terrorist

FBI Special Agent Eric Jergenson (CJ, MS '95) credits the professors and staff in the HBSSW Criminal Justice Department for his extraordinary achievements in international counter-terrorism. "What they passed along to me was invaluable in terms of future success," says the Oshkosh, WI, native.

Jergenson (seen on right in the photo), who works international counter-terrorism in the FBI's Denver office, played a significant role in thwarting a 2009 al Qaeda suicide bombing attempt that U.S. Attorney General Erik Holder referred to as "one of the most serious terrorist threats to our nation since September 11, 2001."

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Photo by Chris Schneider

Social Work Graduate Connects With Others

Britt Kerr

Britt Kerr (BSW, '2011) was drawn to UWM by the university’s location in the state’s largest city and the diversity of the campus. She knew from the beginning of her college studies that she wanted to pursue social work, and UWM’s program provided the academics and internships that Kerr describes as “ideal.”

In Fond du Lac, Kerr attended Winnebago Lutheran Academy, where her father is a teacher. While she loved the “small-school setting and the fact that everyone knows each other,” she chose UWM because she wanted a new experience and she loved the large student population that UWM offered. She also valued the compact layout of the campus and the “caring climate” she found in Honors College and in the Department of Social Work.

Because she was able to meet with a social work adviser and take 100-level social work courses as a freshman, Kerr says she was able to affirm her choice of major early in her university career.

> Read full story and watch the video

Photo by Troye Foxe

Social Work Alum Changes the World "One Garden at a Time."

Gretchen Mead in her garden.

Gretchen Mead (MSW '04) is changing the world “one garden at a time.”

Mead, founder and director of the Victory Garden Initiative (VGI), received a Master of Social Work degree from UWM’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare in 2004. “I’m a clinical social worker by training, and have a passion for human services, but I also have a number of other interests – always been a gardener, a foodie, an environmentalist.”

> Read full story and watch the video . . .

Photo by Troye Fox

Our 2011 Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award Winner - Rachele M. Klassy (MSW '07)

Rachele Klassy

Psychiatric Social Worker Coordinator and Psychiatric Social Worker, Milwaukee County Office of the Sheriff, Wisconsin

The GOLD (Graduate of the Last Decade) Award recognizes graduates who have achieved a measure of success in their field bringing credit to themselves and the University.

Rachele’s primary interest in acquiring her Masters in Social Work was to provide services to persons in the criminal justice system.  Following graduation she pursued employment in a very challenging area in the Milwaukee Correctional System.  Working as a Psychiatric Social Worker and Psychiatric Social Worker Coordinator in the Milwaukee County Office of the Sheriff, Rachele’s duties include performing suicide, psychosocial, mental health and AODA assessments, crisis intervention, the de-escalation of dangerous and volatile inmates, and crisis counseling.  Though dealing with potentially traumatic scenarios, Rachele has remained passionate and dedicated to serving this population and their mental health needs.