This week the Morgridge Center for Public Service celebrates National Transfer Student Week and the students who have transferred to make the University of Wisconsin–Madison their new home.
Across campus students bring many backgrounds, interests and passions that help form this university, and transfer students are an important part of building that story.
Two students, Tina Marshalek and Rob Kiser, both transferred to UW–Madison from Madison College after discovering their desire to further their education past an associate’s degree. While their individual paths are unique, for both students, service has been an anchoring part of their Wisconsin Experience.
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Marshalek was homeschooled from kindergarten to 12th grade before moving to Ashland, Wisconsin. She received a high school diploma, but felt intimidated by the college application process.
“I am a first-generation college student,” Marshalek says. “I had two parents who were trying to school me, who didn’t go to college themselves and that meant that I really didn’t plan on going to college.”
After working and interning on a political campaign for a few years, Marshalek decided to return to school and enroll at Madison College. Having been out of school for a while, a two-year program made sense for her.
Kiser served in the United States Coast Guard for nine years after graduating from high school. Ready for new opportunities, he decided to enroll at Madison College to further his education.
Wanting to stay within the Madison community, both Marshalek and Kiser pursued their desire to gain a four-year degree, and transferred to UW–Madison.
“I think it was a combination of Wisconsin itself, I really like the city of Madison and the community and nonprofit leadership major,” Marshalek says. “That’s a very specific, cool thing that UW–Madison has that I really fell in love with when I found it,”
Transferring into a new school was not without challenges. Marshalek, who transferred to UW–Madison last spring, was hesitant, at times, to share her identity as a transfer student, fearing some might see her differently.
However, with all the great work and self-development leading up to her time at UW–Madison, Marshalek found she was slighting herself by not sharing that part of her story. Opening up allowed her to develop connections with the community here and get involved with the Transfer Engagement Center.
“It’s really cool that I have professors, mentors, peers and classmates that I feel connected to and I know care about my advancement and my education,” Marshalek says. “We also have advisors in the center who are awesome and were a huge help.”
Kiser found that moving to UW–Madison was a much larger campus to navigate in term of resources and opportunities offered, but that there was much more school spirit in the student body and surrounding community.
“You take a lot of pride in the school and there’s a lot of school spirit that you cannot replicate anywhere,” Kiser says.
Admitted in fall 2018, Kiser got his first impression of campus before starting classes. In the summer prior, he discovered Badger Volunteers through the Morgridge Center for Public Service and started volunteering with the Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin, Inc.
Although having been a part of the Madison community for a few years, Kiser found how much UW–Madison is connected with the community through his volunteering.
Marshalek echoes a similar connection through her Badger Volunteers position as a literacy tutor at Sherman Middle School. Working with students not only gives her a chance to be in a middle school, something exciting to experience having been homeschooled, but also to help in empowering students to learn.
“I feel that I’m in a position in my tutoring role to empower kids to show them what their strengths are and not look at them as though they are weaknesses,” Marshalek shares.
Marshalek has loved tutoring and is excited to continue working with the students for the remainder of the semester. She is also thrilled to start working as an intern at the UW South Madison Partnership located at Villager Mall. Marshalek hopes to get involved with community initiatives, education and planning events for the south side of Madison.
Kiser, now in the nursing program, volunteers at a senior home as a friendly visitor. Volunteering has always been an important part of his life and he has enjoyed being an ambassador of the university while providing service for the community.
Marshalek and Kiser, both may be considered non-traditional transfer students having not attended college immediately after high school, but both have embraced their roles in the Madison community and the university.
“I think you need transfer students because they bring a certain amount of experience to a classroom that you otherwise would not have—life experience and work experience,” Kiser says.