Can’t believe it. It has been 10 years since I’ve done this:
Yep, that’s me graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stout exactly a decade this week in 2006. The dude in the middle shaking the Chancellor’s hand of Charles Sorenson.
May 13th, 2006 will be long remembered for me as making it to a point where I couldn’t reach. It was Mother’s Day weekend at the time, and yes mama was happy. How did I get here and there? I’m going to a point in this story that I haven’t done: There were some faults and concerns that some thought I had to skip campus classes or having a concern that the program of Industrial Management with the tool of Distance Education has not been a concern! So as a heads up, I’m going to be unapologetic on this notion. Be advised. This is not a drill.
First: I already got the knowledge of two-way teleconferencing way back in 1995 as a High School Senior here in Milwaukee. For your new readers it’s called “Skyping”. But Skype was not around between 2002 – 2006. And Social Media wasn’t a thought until after 2006.
Plus the start of this goes back to 2001, after being laid off from UW-Milwaukee as a press operator. Then later on in the year I took some courses at MATC to build up more in my attempted education. In between one of my former church members told me about Stout as a thought of attending. Another was one of my former MATC Graphic Arts teachers told me about Stout in a choice between that, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Platteville. In November of 2001, I went to a college fair at MATC to visit the various UW colleges and universities. And the last college I visited to discussed was UW-Stout. I applied to UW-Stout in 2002 and got accepted in September of that year. The program was Industrial Management by using Distance Education in Milwaukee.
Second: As I previously described, I took the Distance Education Classes here in Milwaukee at my old Tech College. The rooms I was in looked liked this:
Every week we had our live interactions with the teachers and students from Menomonie, Waukesha, Madison and Stout. Hey haters, you see this?
This is what I had to go through EVERY WEEK! Did I survive? You bet the so-called pensions, absent minded, retirement funded nose up the par, and stock attitudes.
Third: Online Classes. Back in the day, the Distance Education tools were young. About 2-4 years young. But every Sunday at 11:59pm, the assignments have to be due via the Learn At Stout Website. Even we had to fax our homework. No matter it was Summer, Fall, or Spring.
Fourth: One of my Capstone Classes, we had to Phone up. Once a week, we all had to phone in the Strategic Management. We previewed our assignments, went over folks houses to complete our assignments, emails and still got good grades. As a GROUP!
With the homework assignments, I studied them EVERYDAY! Even on Sundays in Church! No lie. So, I was one of those workaholics that grinded.
Speaking of haters: This is where I have to get real. I will be unapologetic in speaking and keeping it 100. And will hold nothing back with the following uncut commentary.
Plus names will be mentioned.
I have to bring up at least “two haters” that were just rude at the time: First, if you work for the Milwaukee Urban League, and worked with a woman named Betty J. Speed, you want to put away your work assignments and pay attention. And if the CEO of the Urban League is available, tell him or her to come to a private computer because, what I’m about to say may not be suitable for anyone that is a devoted member, and/or worker. Pay attention. This is real and not a smear campaign.
Back in October of 2004, I came to the Urban League looking for work around my distance education college schedules with the University and the outcome was not great. Not at all. The ending result of the help was disastrous. I explained my interest in working in the printing area in which at the time was my strongest. I felt I could still go along with it. But for her, she mocked me in a unethical professional manner. By the way, she was Black. Her attitude was mean stricken, and not nice. She accused me of having this so-called “behavior problem” in which she had the behavior problem towards me out of frustration. She also said something about no one will give a da*n about me, and the last thing she said was so hateful:
You better not come back here if you can’t find a job.
Yes she did! Those exact words,”You better not come back here if you can’t find a job” was the most discouraging, and most unethical sentences that coming from a black woman like her was just disgusting! And even struck a nerve with my education. That was personal. I was being attacked.
Another hater to highlight was Manpower. I had a interview with this white woman named Brook. This lady had the gaul to ask about my earnings of how I’m getting money, how I’m taking my classes and other personal endeavors. She assumed that she wasn’t accusing me of anything in her words, but the fact is she stepped over the line! All because of my education, work history, and many other factors that wasn’t so professional.
What did I do in these situations? I wrote a letter of complaint! I got on my computer in May of 2005, and I wrote the hardest complaint letter to the point. I was very upset, and felt that I needed to say something to defend myself. And I was in my final year with Stout’s Distance Education area with Industrial Management on the point.
Did I received responses back? You bet I did.
For the Urban League, I wanted to grab the attention of the Urban League President in regarding the incident. But it was picked up later on. When Betty Speed answered my Cell Phone: My reaction was like this to start: “You gotta a lot of nerve calling me on my cell phone!” And in between I told to her over the cell phone: “Shut up! I’m Talking!” and “Excuse me! I’m Talking!” I went in on her like white on rice! Everything she told me, mocked me, saying no one will care, and thing is, I struck back hard! And about the thing with my education, she said back in 2004 that some employers that may have this assumption that I would leave to go back to Stout at the time. HELLO! I was a DISTANCE EDUCATION student studying my classes in the City! I explained at the time, but the thing is, forgive me to say this: she was stubborn and to quote Roland Martin, “stuck on stupid”. Didn’t know about my upbringing, ideas to commence, nothing. I also hit her on this comment that she said the most: “You better not come here if you can’t find a job.” And then she had to comment “we want you to come back….” SERIOUSLY?! Yeah right.You talk about “behavior problems?” “Stuck on stupid”. Pay attention, Milwaukee! And this was a jobs advisor for an organization that helps black folks and alike to find work in the community?! How really STUPID! I told her after an heated argument, (and trust me it was heated), that I will no longer use their services or her any more. The Milwaukee Urban League maybe an assist to needs to the community for a long time, but for me, in that incident was a slap in the face. She tried also to say that she tipped her hat to me in some sort of empathy of what I was trying to accomplish. But I was not feeling it from her. Nope. Not so sorry! And plus, in regarding attire, there were no signs of that. None!
You always hear about, “oh its the crabs in a bucket mentality”. Guess what? What I had encountered here, was an example of a crabs in a bucket mentality. Even your own people, specifically black folks would try to shake your hand and stab you in the back! Although there are those of African-American I do reach out to, but for this: NOT SO SORRY!
For Manpower, the branch manager was a white woman named Cathy Wagner. Folks, like Betty Speed, I too went in on her in a heated exchange in regarding what her employee Brook had told me. I also told her about the “Red Flags”comment, and she had no idea what I was talking about. I repeated the question. It was stupid of her not to get a real comment over the phone. And she said that my resume at the time didn’t have a history. I told her in a demanding voice to TURN THE PAPER OVER! Oh she was scared and terrified and noticed my work history. And education. Plus she talked about all “what are you doing for the Memorial Day weekend” questions. That had NOTHING to do with the matter at the time. NOTHING!
In a letter that sent to me in May 2005, she offered her “apology”. Which was not so real! It was really weak, fake and not so sincere. She also claimed that Brook was trying to counsel me about the document and others in corrections. But I was NOT convinced. And I responded in a follow up letter stating that I will never return to use Manpower’s Services no more. This was their Kilbourn Office in Downtown Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Center building to be exact. And the same with the Urban League in October of 2005, a year after I went in for job seeking.
Yes, my blood was boiling at them! So much.
Since then, I have not talked to anyone who has a working history with these organizations and companies. And also, when they come up on Facebook or any part of social media for example, I just don’t pay attention to them. I don’t look at their jobs, events, activities, NONE of the above. And if were to get an invite to an Urban League Event, or a Manpower job offer, I just simply decline. Now many of you are probably saying, “what will it take for you to get back on one page?” I can’t answer that. If some of you whom are currently working for these organizations, active as stakeholders, active as donors, or received community awards based in service, I’m not blaming you. I’m blaming the experience that your former or current colleagues, or supporters had put out on me.
I know that I might get on the commentary board and explain my grievance liberties, but what I have explained here, on this blog, I will NOT apologize. And I won’t apologize to the Stout Alums or the so-called old traditional folks about my one day visit on the Commencement Day in 2006. Nope! Sorry. I am done apologizing! Other Stout Alums whom graduated after me, with being Distance Education Students graduating, did the same thing. With this, I am not ashamed! No reason to be. I am becoming awake with being unapologetic with no explanations of this. Never will. Even it concerns my previous education with UW-Stout which I don’t sleep nor forget! So technically being now a former Distance Education student of the school is like being unapologetic. The most important thing I did is getting the degree. Bar none. Are you listening? And I hope that those whom are currently in the programs using Distance Education will never be ashamed of not going on campus! Just come on out with it. And when they graduate, they will prove a point. Just like it has been done before.
After Stout, I landed with some closely related seasonal jobs with UPS, and later on currently with my church, which I’m still active. I also applied as a Election Inspector, and if this keeps up, this fall will be 10 years on the spot with the City of Milwaukee. I am a Executive Alumni Board Member for my former High School for five years serving, and also a newly Executive Board Member for a Scholarship Coalition named after a prominent Civil Rights Leader here in Milwaukee. And this scholarship coalition, assisted me with 5 of 6 Scholarships while taking the Distance Education courses with UW-Stout. And also, I earned a Unsung Hero Community Award from the NorthWest Side CDC in 2014. As for the jobs, I still search for jobs through networking of Stout’s Career Link page, the Wisconsin Job Centers, Facebook, LinkedIn, those I know personally, and even some former employers that know me since my younger days and family connections.
And I’m still in the hunt of getting my chance more out of my degree. I’m not giving up. I don’t quit that easily. Better be watchful, simply what I’m saying is there will be an uprising for those whom have been attacked and doubted. And I’m telling this to those whom have been offended by those whom I like to call “grown bullies” in the workplace or community.
Plus, I had attended Milwaukee Area UW-Stout Alumni Events from networking meetings at the Harley-Davidson Museum, Miss Katie’s Diner, Killawatt Restaurant, The Rumpus Room and Milwaukee Brewers games at Miller Park. All sponsored by the UW-Stout Alumni Association. And the sole purpose to meet and get to know Stout Alums here in Milwaukee. Basically, it was a goal that I needed to do, and I did that. Plus I went to Stout related Campus visits to WCTC in Pewaukee.
So yes, I AM A STOUT ALUM!!!!
And still I go to these events. And one point or two, I donated to the University! Plus for those who doubt the “not so much” talkative, introverted, still workable and rising, single Black Men like me: WAKE UP! Even if you’re black yourself. Hate to say it.
Knowing this, it’s my 10th Year as a Stout Grad. Very happy for this and thankful. And I know it’s the University’s 125th Anniversary. But I will never forget what I went through in getting this degree and stamp my name in Stout’s History. Specifically with Distance Education. And I had other bloggers from My Fox Milwaukee (mostly white folks) telling me that “just say you got your degree from Stout.” Even though that was part of the story, but that doesn’t tell the ENTIRE story!
They say Distance Education doesn’t work? Calling out the sleepers and doubters! Ask those who know the lingo everyday. Ask those who have to teach them to themselves without the teachers or students with them. Go ahead and challenge this former Pioneer Student like me who had to go through the cracks to get this degree. And I hate to bust the bubble of those who don’t know, UW-Stout’s Distance Education goes back to 1906. It’s been around for over a century when the instructors used recordings onto phonographs or vinyls to hear the lessons of the classroom lectures. Yes that was then, now it’s the advancement of computers via Social Media, Smartphones, Apps, and many other devices that are still in the game and waiting to be in the game.
I said this years ago and I’m saying it here: this is not my mother’s education. This is not my father’s education. Nor my sister’s education. This is no old school education in house! This was my education, my investment in the UW-School System. This didn’t happen with UW-Milwaukee. Nor UW-Madison. Nor Marquette. Nor UW-Stevens Point. or any UW-School not on my to pick. This happened with a school is now based in “Polytechnical Innovation.” And that school is UW-Stout.