UWGB student is the new face of CW14

Katie Phernetton, UW-Green Bay senior communication major, has been chosen as the next CW14 Star for local TV station CW14.

In her new position, Phernetton will report on entertainment in the area and will also be involved in marketing and promotions.

Phernetton made it through a selection process that included an open casting call at sponsor Paul Mitchell’s beauty school in Green Bay. Phernetton gave a monologue on why she should be chosen to win, and also had an on-air interview on FOX 11’s “Good Day Wisconsin.” Her selection was based on a 49 percent vote from viewers and a 51 percent vote from the station. Phernetton also underwent a makeover and had a formal interview with the general manager at CW14.

“I feel like life is going to be a little more exciting,” Phernetton said. “I’m from Green Bay, so being a local face for the station will be great.”

Phernetton will replace Maria Parmigiani, who was named Northeast Wisconsin’s first CW14 star in 2011.

Parmigiani had nothing but praise for her successor.

“Katie showed us that she’s amazing,” Parmigiani said. “She seems to really get it, so I know she will take full advantage of every experience that comes her way and have fun with it. She’s amazing, so I don’t know what advice to give her. She could probably give me some advice.”

Parmigiani said she was honored to spend her time as the CW14 Star, and said she got a lot out of getting involved in the community.

“You get to do a lot of brainstorming and get to bring your own ideas to the table,”  Parmigiani said. “You really feel like you’re doing something important in your job.”

Phernetton said she is excited for similar opportunities.

“I’ve always wanted to help out my community,” Phernetton said. “My life is about to get much richer.”

Parmigiani said the perks to the job are rewarding, too. One highlight during her time as the CW14 Star was meeting the stars from CW show “The Vampire Diaries.”

“One of the guys even lifted up his shirt so I could see his abs,” Parmigiani said.

Phernetton said she’s looking forward to fun experiences. She gives some credit to UWGB for her opportunity at CW14.

“UWGB professors encouraged me and believed that I could get this job,” Phernetton said. “It just make me feel much more confident that I can go out into the real world.”

Professor Phil Clampitt, Hendrickson professor of business and chair of the communication department at UWGB, said Phernetton has been awarded a great opportunity.

“It’s a good foot in the door,” Clampitt said. “It puts some amazing experience on her resume that will help her stand out for future jobs.”

When it comes to advice, Clampitt said Phernetton needs to keep in mind that communication is key to her new position.

“You have to think about the people you are trying to connect with,” Clampitt said. “There is a lot of stress in this career. Katie will face many challenges moving forward. The key is to get into the right rhythm and pace because a job like this moves quickly, and some situations she encounters will give her an emotional roller-coaster.”

Clampitt also said when students are chosen for positions like this, it puts some name recognition out there for the university. UWGB has seen lots of success with its students getting good jobs.

“We have former students on local television, people working for local newspapers and former students in all kinds of successful careers,” Clampitt said.

Phernetton said thanks to her education at UWGB, she was prepared for her audition.

“The top four out of five finalists in the interviewing process were from UWGB,” Phernetton said. “UWGB sets you up with a good, solid foundation that you know you can fall back on.”

UWGB students present work at state capitol

Six UW-Green Bay students will join the convention “Posters in the Rotunda,” which showcases undergraduate research projects from Wisconsin’s 13 UW System schools.

This marks the 10th year students from across Wisconsin will gather in Madison to present posters and offer insight into their new research. “Posters in the Rotunda” will offer more than 100 students and their faculty advisors an opportunity to showcase undergraduate research. Lidia Nonn, Madison Research Symposium coordinator, modeled the “Posters in the Rotunda” event after a similar function held in Washington, D.C.

“The initial planning committee wanted a local event to mirror the ‘Posters on the Hill’ occasion which occurs in Washington, D.C. annually,” Nonn said. “Invitation letters go to all student hometown legislators so each legislator will know who of his or her constituency will present in Madison.”

Both Sen. Hansen and Rep. Klenke, who represent districts encompassing UWGB, have been asked to attend the event and become more acquainted with research performed on UWGB’s campus. Showcasing original research from undergraduates to local representatives can give legislators reason to increase commitment to higher education in Wisconsin.

Zona Fang, UWGB senior secondary mathematics major, is one of the six students attending “Posters in the Rotunda” and is excited about meeting the legislators.

“I’m looking forward to meeting Sen. Hansen and Rep. Klenke and letting them know how important our research is,” Fang said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to study abroad and an honor to present my undergraduate research at such a prestigious event.”

UWGB’s six representatives fostered relationships with their faculty advisors prior to starting their research project.

When Emily Vogels, senior psychology major, was approached by Regan Gurung, human development professor, to research intelligence in social settings, the decision was easy.

“(Prof. Gurung) has been such a great resource for me personally,” Vogels said. “When he asked if I’d be interested in conducting my own research about an understudied topic, I quickly agreed.”

The six students slated to attend the event in Madison, along with several other UWGB researchers, will present posters to UWGB students, faculty and community members April 10 in the University Union’s Phoenix rooms. Those traveling to Madison will be noted by a phoenix ribbon on their display. Danny Mueller, political science and history major, said prepping for “Posters in the Rotunda” is important.

“The format of the event is interesting — people walking around and asking questions,” Mueller said. “The symposium will give me some insight into what I’ll be doing in Madison.”

The process of conducting meaningful research, compiling data and presenting it to the public has been an unforgettable experience, which has been aided by his advisor, Mueller said.

“For me, this has been the capstone achievement of my undergraduate career,” Mueller said. “To exhibit the skills I’ve acquired at UWGB is extremely rewarding. This wouldn’t have been possible without the relationship I’ve developed with Professor Levintova.”

Dedication to research takes up a lot of time. Despite the commitments, each student asked to present in Madison will have more than a resume to talk about during job interviews. Robyn Nielsen, junior environmental policy and planning major, said “Posters in the Rotunda” is more than just displaying research.

“I knew it would be a great opportunity to garner some exposure for my poster, but this event is more than that,” Nielsen said.

“It could be my own small way to encourage our representatives to put their energies into thinking about how important Wisconsin’s future environmental policies are.”

Rubbing elbows and talking policy with Wisconsin’s leading policy makers is an opportunity other UWGB students will take advantage of, too. Fang is excited to discuss the future of math education in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S.

“Further development of International Baccalaureate mathematics curriculum in the U.S. could help students here compete academically with students from other countries,” Fang said. “IB could broaden high school student perspectives, from a local level to an international level.”

Mai Chee Vang, business administration major, and Holly James, human biology and biology major, will also present research during “Posters in the Rotunda.” All six students have also been asked to present their posters during the annual Founders Spring Event May 7.

Interaction between UWGB student leaders and state representatives during Posters in the Rotunda will continue to be an important relationship which demonstrates the value of higher education in Wisconsin, Nonn said.

“Nothing more effectively demonstrates the value of undergraduate research than the words and stories of student participants,” Nonn said. “It’s vital we promote undergraduate research scholarship, in partnership with faculty, as a vital component of higher education.”

Tragedy in Boston hits home

Notes From the 117th Boston Marathon

April 22, 2013 – It’s been seven days since I ran the Boston Marathon.  It’s been a tough week for victims and families after two explosions rocked the finish line.   Many of my friends and relatives knew that I could have been one of those victims.  They were following my progress along the course via their computers and phone apps.  They saw that I was taking the race easy and not running the race for a personal best.

They watched me zigzag up and down the course high-fiving the little kids, stopping to pet dogs, talk with the spectators, listen to the many jazz and rock bands playing along the 26.2-mile course.   They saw me stop and kiss one of the girls at Wellesley College at the 13-mile point, a Boston Marathon-Wellesley College tradition dating back to 1901.

They also saw me stop at a memorial at the 26-mile marker and say a prayer for the 26 victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In the past Boston Marathons, I had never embraced the crowds.   I never stopped to enjoy the music.  My focus had always been to do my personal best.  I already qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon at the Fox Cities Community Marathon, so I told all my running buddies that my goal would be to finish last and embrace the race.

At the 26 Mile Memorial for the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I was only 200 meters from the end of the race.  I could see the finish line.  Blue and yellow Boston Marathon flags were flapping in the wind.  I could hear the cheering crowd as runners ahead of me crossed the finish line, pumping their arms in the air.   I took several steps in their direction, and I still didn’t want the race to end.  I was having way too much fun.  I looked at my watch, and it read 2:13.  I had no one waiting for me at the finish line.

A friend of mine who I had coached and ran with on the Pacific All Army 10-miler-team back in 2004-05 was somewhere back on Hereford Avenue.  He was having a tough day.  He came up lame in the first half of the race and was now limping to the finish line.

I decided to run back, find him and finish the race with him. The beer-fed crowd was laughing at me as I ran against the current of runners heading to the finish line and shouted, “You’re going the wrong way.”  I was back on Hereford Avenue when I heard two explosions.  The first explosion hit at 2:15 p.m. The sound reverberated off the tall buildings.  I couldn’t tell where the explosions had come from.

My knees buckled slightly, and I thought I was back in Iraq, where we were taught to hit the ground when we heard an explosion.   I looked at the crowd and their heads had shifted away from the marathoners. They too were looking skyward, trying to figure out where the blasts had originated.   Next, as I continued against the flow of the runners, I saw people in the crowd reaching for their ringing cell phones.

A dark, curly haired young man wearing a faded Boston College t-shirt, holding a beer mug in his right hand and his cell phone in his left, shouted at me, “Two explosions at the finish line.”

The cheering stopped and an eerie silence fell over the crowd.  I turned back around and started to make my way back on Boylston.  A cop waving his hand shouted, “Race canceled. Turn around.”   Barriers started popping up across the racecourse, blocking access to the finish line. I shouted to the cop, “I’m EMT qualified,” and he waved me through.  I continued to the next barrier and another cop stopped me, and again I shouted, “I’m EMT qualified.”  He leaned into his mic, spoke and then nodded, “They got plenty of medical.  Help me stop and turn around the oncoming runners.  The finish line is closed.”

The rest of the day was a blur.  In less than 20 minutes, those injured were triaged and quickly transported to local hospitals by ambulances. The entire downtown area was in the process of being cordoned off by the police, the FBI and Homeland Security.  Heavily armored vehicles took over the streets. Cops cleared the streets.  Men wearing flack jackets carrying machine guns emptied out the downtown area.

The metro system was closed down to search for more explosives.

After an hour, we were safely diverted through neighborhoods around the finish line to be reunited with our loved ones at the Family Meeting Area.  On the way, families in the brownstones came out in droves and offered us food, water and their cell phones so we could text our loved ones we were OK.  We picked up our yellow drop bags containing our personal belongings and were directed to leave the area immediately.

I was nine miles away my South Boston hotel, and I started walking back.  The streets were empty.  No cars.  Businesses locked down tight.  When I was about halfway home, a car sped by me, made a U-turn and picked me up.  It was a taxi.  The driver with a Haitian accented asked, “Mister, are you OK?”

“Yes,” I replied, happy to get a lift, and thanked him for picking me up.  I asked if he was from Haiti, and he laughed, nodded and pointed to his taxi driver’s license on the dashboard.

I told him I helped back in 2010 with the Haitian relief efforts, and he said he and his family came to Boston in 2010 after the earthquake had devastated the island. We were quiet the rest of the way to the hotel. When he dropped me off, I reached for my wallet.  He said, “No charge.  I’m off duty, and been picking up runners all evening, helping them get back to their hotels.  Are you coming back next year?”

I said, “Yes.”  He smiled, gave me the thumbs up sign and drove away.

This is Boston.  People in Boston don’t back down.  Neither do marathoners.  The police, the medical, the volunteers, the spectators and all the people did an outstanding job responding to the two explosions.  Even the taxi drivers did their part in helping the runners and their families.

My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. I will be back next year for the 118th running off the Boston Marathon.  I have a finish line I need to cross.