Future Pointer takes pride in his UW-Marathon County roots
When he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County for the fall 2016 semester, Jon Decker dreamt of becoming a physician. "I planned to earn a degree in biology, go on to med school and pursue a career in medicine," said the 2016 Wausau East High School graduate. "I have always had a knack for working with children, so my intention was to become a pediatrician."
His career plans and college degree path took a turn, in part because of his coursework and campus life experiences while attending the Wausau campus. "I realized I was less interested in medicine than I was in working with kids," Decker said. He changed his major to elementary education. "It seemed to be a better fit."
His parents' careers also influenced his decision. His mother teaches kindergarten in Wausau, and his father is the owner-operator of a driver's education school. "Their experiences working as educators to children and young adults have helped shape my life goals and interests."
Decker will continue his elementary education studies at UW-Stevens Point this fall and is excited about what new educational opportunities and experiences he may encounter at a larger, four-year university.
"One thing I am thrilled for is the variety of programs and resources that will be available to me at UW-Stevens Point, specifically campus clubs and organizations, such as the Aspiring Educators and the Ukulele Tree Climbing Club," he said. "It also has the friendly, hometown feeling that I loved about UW-Marathon-County.
"Advisers at UWMC and UWSP helped me figure out exactly what I needed to do to change campuses in the fall, so the transfer process was seamless and positive."
While he looks forward to being a Pointer, spending his first two years at UW-Marathon County has given Decker the educational foundation to succeed at UW-Stevens Point.
"My educational and extracurricular experience at UWMC far exceeded what I had in mind when I started there for several reasons," he said.
"Class sizes were comparable to my high school classes so I didn't feel like I was one student in a sea of hundreds of students in a lecture hall like some of my friends who went to larger universities."
The smaller campus provided opportunities he may not have had elsewhere. "I had the chance to perform in an auditioned vocal group, to hold an appointed position in student government, to get a job on campus and to serve as a student ambassador. Beyond the academics, my time at UWMC helped me improve my time management, interpersonal communication and critical thinking skills."
In addition, he was learning from and building relationships with experts, Decker noted. "My professors shared their extensive knowledge with me because they wanted me to succeed."
Attending UW-Marathon County runs in the Decker family. His mother started her college career there before completing her bachelor's degree at UW-Stevens Point. This fall, his younger sister will begin at the Wausau campus.
UW-Marathon County and UW-Marshfield/Wood County became branch campuses of UW-Stevens Point on July 1, as part of the UW System restructuring.
Decker foresees the integration having long-term benefits for northcentral Wisconsin students who enroll at the two-year campuses in Wausau and Marshfield. "It is my hope that my sister and other students attending the branch campuses will have more opportunities and resources available to them because of the new partnership with UW-Stevens Point."
Learn how the restructuring ensures student success at UW-Stevens Point branch campuses in Marshfield and Wausau at https://youtu.be/pJAsBn5hVSY.