UWM alumni have found their niches in numerous careers, crediting what they learned at the university with helping them find success.
A few examples:
Roberto “Bob” Gutierrez, who earned his degree in civil engineering from UWM, is Southeast Freeways chief design engineer for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. In that job, he works with budgets in the billions, and his work impacts more than 350,000 commuters.
“I never dreamed I would be responsible for the design and construction of major state highways back when I was studying at UW-Milwaukee,” he says. The lessons he learned about being innovative and creative to achieve results still help him every day in his job.
Derrick Harriell, who earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in English from UWM, is now a professor of English and Afro American Studies at the University of Mississippi. He’s also become wellknown for his poetry, with one critically acclaimed book, “Cotton,” published and another under contract.
Harriell grew up on the North Side of Milwaukee and graduated from South Milwaukee High School as president of his class. Some of his own experiences are reflected in his poems. “Growing up on the North Side was a polar sort of experience. Some of those poems capture the highs of neighborhood basketball games, barbeques, friends and family – and the lows of violence in the city, losing childhood friends.”
He’s loved poetry since second grade, he says, and completed his doctorate in UWM’s poetry program. He had already published “Cotton” when it came time to write his thesis and could have used that as his dissertation work. But his adviser, Maurice Kilwein-Guevara, encouraged him to get back to work on other projects. “And I’m a better writer and scholar because of it.”
Luz Ortiz-Carby earned her degree in communication from UWM and is now director of Patient and Family Service at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. In that role she works with hospitals and clinics to implement strategies to support improvements in patient satisfaction. Prior to moving into her new job, she served as the organization’s director of Language Access Services for 10 years.
Like many UWM students, she was the first in her family to graduate from college.
“I could feel my dad’s pride,” she says, as she walked across the stage at her graduation. Although she didn’t start college right after high school, she didn’t consider being an older student a drawback at UWM. “I remember how much the university experience opened my eyes and taught me a lot about myself,” she says.
“UW-Milwaukee not only taught me how to be a true professional, but a successful Latina as well.”
She loves her work, she says, and adds that her studies at UWM gave her many of the skills she uses today. Her advice to students considering college: “Let no obstacle stop you from going to college; you can do it…seek the help you need to go to UW-Milwaukee. It’s a great campus.”
For more about Derrick Harriell and his experiences at UWM, check out the latest issue of the UWM Alumni magazine, available online at http://www5.uwm.edu/news/uwm-alumni/.