Elaina Budimlija and Nicole Solin
relax in Marathon Hall.
What makes the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County stand apart from other local colleges, or even other campuses in the UW Colleges system?
One feature unique to UWMC is Marathon Hall, the only residence on a two-year UW campus run by the university.
Marathon Hall has a quiet but strong influence as the on-campus residence.
From building social skills to study sessions to community service projects, “Life at the residence hall really adds a nice touch to one’s college experience,” said Ian Schwanda, a second-year student from Boulder Junction, Wis.
“I like the activities that the community advisors facilitate and the wide variety of personalities present here,” Schwanda said. “Everyone knows everyone else to some degree. It’s like a big family and is an easy way to make friends. When I was a freshman, I really only knew my roommate [in the beginning] so being able to form that family structure was an important way to ease into college life.”
Promoting social interaction between students is something emphasized by the staff of Marathon Hall. “We help facilitate friendships,” said Kristine McCaslin, director of UWMC Auxiliary Services. “We provide an environment for students to interact with and to communicate with each other, and this also helps in learning about conflict resolution.” She added that Marathon Hall provides students with “a bridge from living at home in high school to being an adult,” allowing them to try things on their own while having “some guiding hands”.
One of the advantages of the on-site residence hall is that UWMC can attract students from outside the local area. “This opens up the world to us,” noted McCaslin. “We have approximately 20 international students living in our hall, which brings cultural diversity to the campus and to Wausau.
Marathon Hall provides living space for 160 students in double rooms.
The direct connection to the university allows the Auxiliary Services department to handle many expenses internally. For example, Auxiliary Services maintains residency contracts, financial management, upholding codes of conduct and programming for student activities. This provides an advantage to the students, giving UWMC students cost savings.
“The cost of residency can be paid for by a student’s financial aid,” said McCaslin. “Unlike the other two-year schools with campuses, we have a full meal program. Students don’t have to worry about groceries. They don’t have to worry about paying rent, gas and electric, extras such as cable bills and Internet access. These expenses are already built into the room and board fee.”
Another advantage is savings on transportation. “I’m just a short walk from all of my classes,” Schwanda explained. “School resources are all right there. The convenience of being so close allows me to get down to studying right away. Plus, if there are other students taking the same courses, study sessions are easy to organize.”
Students hanging out in the Marathon Hall game room.
The social atmosphere in Marathon Hall includes programs and activities, which occur on a weekly basis. “Some people might not realize the extent of activities we do,” stated Schwanda. “These can range from tie-dying shirts to football parties and cook outs.” It is that sense of community in Marathon Hall that, according to McCaslin, provides additional advantages to hall residents.
To reinforce that sense of community, there is always someone available regardless of situations in which students may find themselves. “We have someone ‘on call’ 24/7,” McCaslin said, “so the students are never alone if they’re having a crisis, or something happens or they’re just really excited. There’s always somebody to talk to.”
Marathon Hall is not only as an asset for UWMC but for the Wausau area, too, McCaslin said. “Our staff will plan a community service project and determine what agency or organization with which they want to collaborate,” she explained. “Then they’ll raise the money or they’ll raise the needed products for whatever the project might be. The students will do the work and then we’ll bring it to the organization. In the past, we’ve gone to nursing homes and we’ve made cards for soldiers overseas.”
Find out more about Marathon Hall.
Singing and playing the piano is therapeutic for
music student Tyler Clausen.
Tyler Clausen is like many students attending the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County. He commutes daily from his childhood home in Mosinee, Wis., where he lives with his mother, Janet Clausen. He’s serious about his education and works hard in his classes. He hangs out with his friends and family, enjoys listening to a variety of music and loves watching and playing golf.
He has one thing that makes him a bit different than other students, though. Clausen, 21, has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects his ability to walk and talk.
Cerebral palsy appears in infancy or early childhood and permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination. Clausen was diagnosed with it at age three. Since then, he has undergone more than 10 surgeries to straighten his feet, ankles and legs to relieve pain and to improve his ability to walk. He also wears leg braces for better balance and coordination and wheels his way around the UWMC campus with the help of a rolling walker.
While his disability limits some of the things he can do physically, Clausen doesn’t let it get in the way of pursuing his academic and career dreams. “My philosophy is: ‘The sky is the limit,’” said the 2010 Mosinee High School graduate. He credits his grandfather, Rich Ciesielski, for developing his positive mindset. “In teaching me the game of golf, my grandpa instilled in me that I could do anything if I put effort into it,” said Clausen, whose father died when he was five years old.
“When I was younger, I felt I had limits as to what I could do. As I got older, I learned what my abilities were so I set bigger academic goals for myself,” explained Clausen who earned A’s and B’s in high school. “I look at my disability as a strength that really is a tool for pushing me further.”
The person who helped Clausen recognize his scholastic and musical abilities and served as motivation for his vocational dreams was Carla Dul, his high school choral director. “She had such a positive attitude. She was my biggest inspiration,” said Clausen, who sang in the school choir and participated in a variety show, after receiving encouragement from Dul.
Now in his second semester at UWMC, Clausen eventually plans to transfer to UW-Stevens Point or UW-Eau Claire to pursue a degree in music education. “I saw how Carla really loved what she did. It was like ‘Wow! I want to do this, too.’ By teaching, I will be able to share my love of music with my students and help them help sing and perform to their strengths and abilities.”
The reputation of the music department is what attracted Clausen to UWMC. In the short time he has been at the university, he has been impressed by the passion for music shown by his instructors along with the personal support he and other students receive from them.
“When I first came here, it was special to get voice lessons from professor (William) Day during his last semester of teaching,” Clausen said. “And now, with the help of Tim Buchholz, I’m improving my musicality. He really wants his students to succeed and is very encouraging.”
Buchholz’s respect for Clausen is reciprocal. “Tyler is a hard-working student who is always enthusiastic and eager to learn,” said Buchholz. “He has a keen musical ear, and other music students admire how he does not let his physical disability get in the way of achieving his goals. It’s a pleasure to have him in my classes and ensembles.”
Having been involved in music since he was a teenager has had more than emotional and esteem-building benefits for Clausen. Piano and voice lessons have served as a form of physical therapy for him because cerebral palsy often causes extreme and sometimes debilitating muscle tightness in people who have it. “Playing the piano has improved the flexibility in my hands and fingers,” he noted. “The muscles in my chest are very tight, too, so singing has improved the strength of my speaking voice.”
Clausen said he made the right choice when he decided to start his college education at UWMC. “The atmosphere is very welcoming,” said Clausen, who is taking 17 credits this semester and also participates in the campus-based Discipleship for Christians. “The environment and staff are very helpful so all students can achieve their life and career goals. I’m really grateful that people can see that I can participate in different ways and not be excluded because of my disability.”
By Royce Gustafson - student communications intern
UW – Marathon County (UWMC) has an inspiring student in Athens, Wis. native Darin Weiks.
For the first 18 years of his life, Weiks had Glycogen Storage disease, a rare liver disorder that left him unable to live a normal life. Fortunately he received an organ donation in October 2009. Now he wants to “pay it forward”.
Weiks says that the positive influence of his doctors had a lasting effect on him. “You know when you’re young and your parents always ask you: 'What are you going to be when you grow up?' Since I was very young, I’ve always wanted to be a doctor like Doogie Howser. As it turns out, I still want to be a pediatrician.”
With newfound strength and health he currently attends UWMC. “This is actually the first year that I'm living by myself,” Weiks reveals. “When I had the disease, I'd get hooked up to a machine at night. Now that I've had surgery, I just take pills twice a day.”
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