UW-Washington County is proud to feature Barry and Melissa Wiskirchen, as this month’s alumni family.
As athletes at West Bend West High School, Melissa Katzer and Barry Wiskirchen, both planned to participate in sports at UW-WC when they enrolled in the fall of 2002. Their plans went way beyond participation. Not only did Melissa play volleyball and serve as team captain, she also received the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference (WCC) Player of the Year award (2003) as well as the Robert Pick Female Athlete of the Year award. It’s not surprising that one of her “best memories” was winning back-to-back state volleyball championships. With her cousin, Kristin Owen as a team-mate, the games were always lots of fun too.
While the men’s basketball team didn’t win any state tournaments, Barry was nominated to the WJCAA academic all-state team. He also very much enjoyed playing basketball and making “friendships we still have today.”
After completing two years at UW-WC, Melissa and Barry each received the West Bend Mutual scholarship, which helped pay for their future studies at UW-Milwaukee (UW-M). Melissa earned a bachelor degree in accounting as well as a master’s degree in taxation at UW-M. Barry completed a bachelor’s degree in marketing at UW-M.
Today, the former UW-WC athletes are now husband and wife and both work in the area. Melissa works as an accountant for Kieckhafer, Dietzler, Hauser, LLP in West Bend, while Barry is a financial advisor with ING Financial Partners.
Both agree that UW-WC was the best start for them for several reasons. “First, being a UW school, there is a connection between UW-WC and other UW schools, which makes transferring and the transition almost effortless.” Both enjoyed the opportunity to attend a smaller community campus that “had a close knit environment for students and faculty. Faculty was always accessible and approachable. We never felt like a number in the system or in the classroom. There are many opportunities to be involved in extra-curricular activities and meet new people to build long lasting relationships.” In addition, “the scholarships along with the lower costs of tuition at UW-WC and the proximity to home and jobs, allowed us to work while in college, and all contributed to being able to graduate from college without any debt.” After attending both a two-year and a four-year campus, both agree that “UW-WC offered a very high quality of education.”
Barry and Melissa aren’t the only ones in their families to attend UW-WC. Melissa’s brother, Brad also attended UW-WC and is currently completing a bachelor’s degree in finance at UW-Milwaukee. Barry’s younger brother Blake, just graduated from high school and plans to attend UW-WC this fall. Melissa’s cousin and volleyball teammate, Kristen Owen completed a bachelor degree in nursing through UW-WC’s collaborative nursing degree program with UW-M. Today, she is employed at St Joseph’s Hospital/Froedtert Health in West Bend. If all goes well, the family tradition will continue as Barry and Melissa plan to someday “encourage our children to attend UW-WC, just as we did, to get their college careers off to a great start!”
Washington County is located at 400 University Drive in West Bend. For admission information, visit the campus website at washington.uwc.edu or phone Student Affairs at 262-335-5201.