Great Starts Begin at UWSP-Wausau Campus

Tuesday, Sep 15, 2020

Melissa Jahnke

In each issue, we’ll feature a UW-Stevens Point at Wausau scholarship recipient. It’s a way to share the very personal impact donor gifts have on the lives of local students and faculty.

After several attempts, Melissa Jahnke has found her niche. Her journey has come full circle, as the soon-to-be 41-year-old has returned to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point at Wausau to pursue her academic and career dreams.

“I dropped out of college in 2000 with too many of life’s obstacles such as starting a family, purchasing a home and pursuing a full-time career, preventing me from pursuing my dreams of college graduation,” Jahnke said.

A first-generation college student, Jahnke said her father’s unexpected death in 2015 motivated her to give college a final try. “Part of my decision to leave my 10-year career with the Postal Service was losing my dad. I realized life is too short to settle for something that doesn’t light you up inside.”

Last December, she completed her associate degree. “I set a goal to graduate from college by my 40th birthday,” she said. “It felt wonderful walking across the stage to accept my degree.” She now has her sights set on a earning a bachelor’s degree in social work.

“My family has made sacrifices and budget accommodations to see me through these short years of college. I don’t know if I could have returned to college without their continuous encouragement and support,” said Jahnke, who plans to be a school or hospice care social worker. “Having this degree will be the best for our family. UWSP has helped me find my purpose, and who knows where that will take me?”