December grad finds right career path
'UW-Stevens Point gave me the resources to be successful'
Like many students, Dacia Giordana began her college career without declaring a major. Unlike many, she had not decided by the end of her second year at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
She was interested in every subject she studied.
"I was in the undergraduate advising center every week. Julie Schneider (academic adviser) helped me more than I can tell you. I'd say 'I'm interested in this -- what can I do with it?' I really used that resource," Giordana said.
She enjoyed taking introductory courses – astronomy, biology, anthropology, communications – and explored a variety of career paths. "She used college to explore interests of hers until she made a well-informed, thorough decision that allows her to pursue many different avenues following graduation," said Tobias Barske, chair of the World Languages and Literatures Department.
Schneider suggested she explore Spanish and international studies. "I worked really, really hard for a B+" in Spanish, Giordana recalls. Her Spanish professor, Antonio Valle de Anton, taught her, it's not what comes easiest, it's what you want to do with your time, that matters.
Giordana, of Kaukauna, chose UW-Stevens Point as her older sister did, and she knew the study abroad program was strong. "Stevens Point was the farthest I had ever traveled from home," she said.
Her Spanish teacher encouraged study in Spain. "I didn't know if I could afford it, but UW-Stevens Point made it possible," she said.
Living with a host family who knew no English and traveling around the country convinced Giordana to major in Spanish. Working with children during College Days for Kids and Read Across America at UW-Stevens Point convinced her to pursue a teaching certificate. Giordana discovered she could add a second major in international studies with only a few more classes.
Barske and John Gaffney, recruitment and retention coordinator in the School of Education, helped her plan coursework to complete both majors and English as a Second Language minor in only two more years of college. "Even with being undeclared for two years and with a semester abroad, I was able to graduate in four and a half years. These professors really helped me map it out," she said.
Taking Advanced Placement courses in high school and one winterim course also helped.
"Dr. Barske takes the time to get to know his students and goes above and beyond. He inspired me to become the best person I could be," Giordana said. "Without the guidance of so many wonderful professors, I'm not sure where I'd be today. I don't know if I could find amazing professors elsewhere. I know I found them at UW-Stevens Point."
"Dacia is one of the bubbliest students I have ever had. She has the biggest smile and is a very warm and caring student. She will be a fantastic Spanish teacher," Barske said, adding Giordana received the highest test score in her department on the edTPA, a test student teachers need to pass.
Her college experience was richer because she got involved on campus. She participated in environmental groups such as Earth Club and 350 Stevens Point, volunteered with the Student Wisconsin Education Association and attended the annual International Dinner.
Giordana began working at WWSP radio station in her first year on campus, and she and her sister co-hosted a weekly program. "The university has so many fun, cool things to be involved in. 90FM was an amazing opportunity," she said.
She also worked on campus for Dining and Summer Conferences all four years. "My bosses were so accommodating, they made it easy to work. I felt like everyone cared about me."
From the welcome picnic during move-in week to advising, support and challenge, UW-Stevens Point seems to know what students need when they need it, Giordana said. "This university gave me the guidance I needed and the push I needed."
Student teaching Spanish and ESL in Ashwaubenon schools through January, Giordana feels like she's on the right career path. "I love it." She graduates Saturday, Dec. 17, from UW-Stevens Point and is among select students to receive the Chancellor's Leadership Award Friday.
"UW-Stevens Point gave me the resources to be successful," she said. "My professors helped me discover the path I know is right for me."