University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
Graduates gathered in Zorn Arena on Dec. 19 were assured that their University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire education has prepared them well for the future — and advised to make giving back a part of whatever that future holds.
The assurance and advice came from a source who should know: Beatris Mendez-Gandica, a 2013 UW-Eau Claire information systems and international business graduate, who returned to campus to deliver the Charge to the Class at her alma mater’s morning and afternoon commencement ceremonies.
Mendez-Gandica is a security program manager for Microsoft, where she landed employment following her UW-Eau Claire graduation. Last May she received the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association’s Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award, which acknowledges alumni who’ve made special achievements and shown great promise within 15 years of their graduation from the university.
Mendez-Gandica recalled her time at UW-Eau Claire, where she arrived on a cold January day after leaving the warmth and sun of her native Venezuela. Despite the jarring difference in climate, she quickly became active in the life of the campus and over time discovered her passion for technology in an information systems class. She also found valued support from her professors in the College of Business and landed two internships.
Beyond the classroom, UW-Eau Claire “presented many opportunities for expanding my global mindset,” Mendez-Gandica said, recalling her study-abroad experience in China and faculty-student research participation in India.
As her career with Microsoft has progressed, Mendez-Gandica said she has learned that her UW-Eau Claire experience was only “the beginning of many learnings.”
“One thing that I have come to realize is that your education isn’t done when you graduate from UW-Eau Claire,” she said. “This experience is just a steppingstone that will have prepared you to be a lifelong learner in your area of expertise. It’s on each one of you to take what you’ve learned, empower others and solve the problems that exist in the world today.”
For Mendez-Gandica, that duty to empower others was instilled by her grandfather, who she said raised her “with the morals to always give back.” Inspired by that upbringing and her UW-Eau Claire experience working with youth through the Blugold Beginnings program, she decided two years ago how she could make a difference.
“I wanted to do something bigger than myself and wanted to help the next generation of students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers,” Mendez-Gandica said. “So, I started a nonprofit called Nuevo Foundation, where we inspire kids to be curious, confident and courageous by discovering the world of STEM. I’m happy to report that after almost two years of operations, we’ve inspired 2,917 students with ‘learn to code’ workshops and virtual sessions across seven countries.”
Mendez-Gandica told graduates that UW-Eau Claire has prepared them make their own mark.
“I encourage you to find your passion and give back,” she said. “You can make a difference. You. We all come from different backgrounds. You have the power to rewrite the rules of the world.”
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library
The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire will be closed Monday, January 20 to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.
Employees will be participating in development sessions throughout the day. The library will resume its normal hours on Tuesday, January 21.
For information, stop at Information & Reference on your next visit to the library, call 715-839-5004, or email the library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chippewa Valley Technical College
McKayla Hohmann competing in Olympic sport of dressage
Eau Claire, WI – With the help of Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Adult Education Services, McKayla Hohmann essentially finished high school in five days. She managed to squeeze it in during a visit back to her home area in Wisconsin.
The 18-year-old with roots in Colfax and Osseo is working for a former Olympian and professional horse trainer in Massachusetts, with hopes of someday becoming an Olympian herself in the sport of dressage.
Along the way, she needed to finish her high school credentials, then get back to the horse barn. So she turned to CVTC for a fast-track GED.
“Being able to get my high school credentials in this way allowed me to chase my dreams, because I didn’t have to be sitting in a classroom for eight hours a day,” Hohmann said.
Horses have been Hohmann’s passion her entire life. “I'm sure my mom had me on a horse before I could walk,” she said. “I think I got my first pony when I was four or five. I've always ridden. I don't remember a time before that.”
Eventually Hohmann started taking part in dressage, a highly skilled form of riding in which horse and rider are judged on how they are able to perform a series of proscribed movements. McKayla received some local notoriety in 2014 when, at the age of 13, she was part of a three-horse first place team at the U.S. Pony Club national competition in training-level dressage. She rode Humble Hazel, a horse that had been rescued from an abusive situation.
She then found the opportunity to take part in a program in Florida under the leadership of Lendon Gray, a U.S. dressage champion with multiple gold medals in U.S. Olympic festivals.
“She's so inspirational to so many people and she really pushes for the younger riders to help us learn. She does amazing things for dressage for kids to help grow the young rider community,” Hohmann said.
Although she had attended a traditional elementary school in Osseo, during her high school years Hohmann was home schooled and training with horses. “I had decided that being a professional horse trainer and rider-trainer was definitely what I wanted to do for a career,” she said.
Gray’s help led to Hohmann getting hired by Liz Austin, another renowned dressage champion, at her Massachusetts stables. At age 16, Hohmann was living away from home and flying back to Wisconsin occasionally to visit her mother, Candice Aspen in Colfax, and father, Scott Hohmann in Osseo. She’s taking care of horses, training and competing.
In November during a short pre-Thanksgiving visit back to the area, Hohmann decided it was time to get that high school credential done.
“My mom had called CVTC and they were so helpful figuring out the scheduling,” Hohmann said. “I did a couple of pre-tests on a Friday. CVTC has been amazing being on top of everything and getting me right into the testing.”
The GED test is a series of five tests in civics, history, science, math, and reading comprehension and language arts. Hohmann took them over a period of four days.
“It’s not quite normal to do everything that fast,” Hohmann said. “They pulled some strings to help me get my GED while I was here. Everybody was so friendly and if I had any questions, everybody was readily available to answer.”
Now Hohmann has her high school credentials, and plenty of hardware from competitions in her sport. Her first big win was the United States Pony Club nationals at age 12. She was a top 50 U.S. Dressage Finals medal seat finalist at 15, a bronze medal winner at 16 and a silver medalist at 18. She was chosen to ride in Olympic gold medalist Dorothee Scheider’s symposium this past October.
The Olympics is a far-off dream, though. Unlike other Olympic sports that are dominated by young athletes in their prime, Olympic medals in dressage usually go to veteran riders. For now, Hohmann is not anxious to take steps that would make her ineligible for the juniors competitions where she has learned so much and found success.
With over 155 programs offered both online and on-campus, Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the community. CVTC programs are designed with input of business and industry to prepare graduates for today’s jobs, with 95 percent employed within six months of graduation and associate degree graduates earning an average annual salary of $46,816.
Fox 25 48
March is International Women’s Month, recognizing the great contributions that women have made to our nation and local communities. Remarkable Women is a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence that women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life. International Women’s Day is Sunday, March 8th, 2020. Fox 25-48 is a proud representative of Nexstar Media in the La-Crosse-Eau Claire market.
We want your nominations! Go to wiproud.com/contest-remarkable-women and nominate your Remarkable Woman! The deadline for nominations is December 31st!
Fox 25-48 will celebrate local women that inspire, lead and forge the way for other women. It’s not just about one day or one month, it’s about what they do, day-in and day-out. In order to celebrate these women properly, we need to highlight and recognize their accomplishments.
Beginning December 13th Fox 25-48 and All Nexstar stations began accepting nominations for Woman of the Year. Based on select criteria such as community contributions, self achievement and impact on families each Nexstar market will select 4 local women to be considered for Woman of the Year. In depth Video packages will be created on each of the local finalists. This video will be featured on First News at Nine so that we can share these amazing stories with our viewers. These will air in February.
On Friday March 6th one woman in each market will be announced as a finalist for the National “Nexstar Woman of the Year” award. Each market finalist will travel to New York City and will be in the audience of the Mel Robbins Show, Wednesday, March 18th . The national winner will be featured and announced on Mel’s show.
Furthermore, all local finalists will enjoy a special reception where Mel Robbins will be the featured speaker on Wednesday, March 18th in NYC for local winners. Ultimately on a special episode of the Mel Robbins Show scheduled to air the week of March 23rd, the Nexstar Woman of the Year will be announced.