For Jenice Meyer, the focus is on making connections

For four years at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Jenice Meyer has been working with faculty members and community partners to forge connections.

Jenice Meyer
Jenice Meyer of Superior is the program manager at the Center for Academic Service-Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. (Clint Austin /

For four years at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Jenice Meyer has been working with faculty members and community partners to forge connections.

"I take what our faculty is trying to teach students and work on connecting them with a community organization that could use their help," she said.

The program manager at the UWS Center for Academic Service-Learning, Meyer works with faculty in a wide array of subjects.

"I get to work with professors from music, psychology, writing and library science all in the same day," she said. "It's fun and challenging to always be learning about their courses and curriculum."

Others say they can see her enthusiasm.


"It is difficult to clearly convey the depth of Jenice's love for her community," Julie Schmidt, one of her co-workers, said. "When you talk to Jenice, she just lights up with pride about her city and her university. Quite frankly, I can't imagine Superior or UWS without her."

Added another co-worker, Beth Grbavcich: "Her hard work and dedication of time are truly selfless. She works for the advancement of the students and for the betterment of the community."

Meyer was noted for her love of her community and job when she was named the winner of the UW-Superior Academic Staff Excellence Award. She was also a finalist in the statewide university competition.

Recently, Meyer has been working with other Superior community members on building the Healthier Douglas County Coalition.

"Last year, we applied and were selected to go through the yearlong Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute," she said. "Through this process I have learned that beginning from scratch is tough work, but the issue is too important not to address."

In her early 20s, Meyer was a board member for Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault and eventually became a board member and co-chairwoman of its yearly art auction.

"Being a chair of the auction was a big responsibility, but just having the faith and trust of others to coordinate it was a great experience," she said. "I learned so much through it and it helped me develop not only personally, but professionally."

Before her career at UWS, she said, "I was a first-generation college student who double-majored in psychology and sociology at UWS, before earning my masters of science in education."


In the future, she hopes to apply for doctorate programs so she can obtain her long-term, 20-year goal of becoming a college or university chancellor or president. "I would also love to be on the Superior City Council or Douglas County Board."

When not busy with her career and future goals, Meyer likes to spend time with family and friends and travel to different countries.

"I've been to about 10 countries and half the states," she said. "My favorite trip was about eight years ago when I studied abroad in Scotland."

It was an eye-opening experience, she said, to see how cultures and social norms are different. "I got to know myself better, and when I came back home I realized how beautiful the Northland really is."

Get to know Jenice Meyer

Age: 30

Occupation: Program manager, Center for Academic Service-Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

What do you actually do? I'm a community and university "match-maker." I find genuine needs in our community and "match" them with professors' course and program learning outcomes.


Years in your job: I just began my fourth year in this job at UWS; it is my seventh year working in higher ed.

Education: Bachelor of science, double major in sociology and psychology; master of science in education, emphasis in community counseling.

Family: I live with my partner, Mike, and our dog, Deje, in Superior. We are thrilled to be expecting our first baby on Jan. 22, 2013!

Community involvement: Healthier Douglas County Coalition, co-chairwoman and main planning committee member, Northwoods Association of Non-Profits committee member, Superior School District's Family Services Advisory Group committee member, Com-munity Health Improvement Plan for DCHHS main planning committee member, Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault past board member and chairwoman.

What brought you to the Twin Ports?

I was born in Duluth, grew up in Superior and have lived in the Twin Ports for most of my life. During my early 20s, I studied abroad in Scotland, which provided me access to travel to several other European countries. After this experience, and traveling to numerous cities in the U.S., I realized what a beautiful, unique place the Twin Ports is. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

What do you like to do during your free time?

Spend time with my family and friends. Travel, hike, camp, read and take Deje for walks. I also love going to water parks -- it always makes me feel like a kid again.


Describe your favorite place in the Twin Ports.

Really, I am in my favorite place anytime I'm hiking, snowshoeing, walking or just enjoying one of the area's great trails or parks. A few favorites are the Millennium Trail in the Superior Municipal Forest, Jay Cooke State Park, Park Point and the Lakewalk, anywhere on the North Shore and Pattison State Park.

What do you like most about the Northland?

I like how the people in Superior are so down to earth -- they are giving, hardworking, kind and family oriented. I like how Duluth is a fun, cool city with a great music scene. There is something for everyone and it still has a small-town feel. It really is the best of both worlds.

How can the Northland retain younger people?

I believe the more connected our youth are with our community the more likely they are to be retained. As a community, we can provide opportunities for youth and college students to sit on our boards, intern in our businesses and nonprofits and volunteer for events and/or programs. The more connections our youth make, the more likely they will be able to find gainful employment within their field.

Who or what has made the biggest impact on your life?

Having strong, encouraging female role models has made a big impact in my life. My mom, who is still my biggest cheerleader, always told me I could be anything I wanted to be, including the first woman president of the United States. Candy Harshner, Casey LaCore, Kathy Bartsias and Dr. Rhoda Robinson are just a few of the other women in my life who have taken their time, kindness and wisdom to help me grow personally and professionally. I am forever grateful to each of them.


What are you most passionate about?

Personally, I am most passionate about education and equality. I strongly support free, public K-12 and affordable higher education that provides our children with the opportunity to actualize their potential. As for equality, I put most of my time and energy into women's rights; I am also a strong ally for labor, same-sex couples, those who are poor, traditionally minority populations and individuals or groups who has experienced the pain and struggle of discrimination. My dad, and other wise men in my life, taught me if "you don't stand for something you will fall for anything." Acting on behalf of and defending education and equality will always be a part of who I am.

How have social and business networking sites changed your life?

With this a growing part of everyone's personal and professional lives, I find myself being much more cognizant of pictures and statements I put online.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I had cancer a few years ago. It was quite a rollercoaster ride for me and my family. But, we beat it! Professionally, it has been the success of the Center for Academic Service-Learning at UWS. In the three years that I have been charged with leading CAS-L, there has been a 925 percent increase in the number of faculty using academic service-learning as a teaching method and a 2,250 percent increase in the number of students participating in AS-L courses (37 faculty and 1,259 students, respectively in the 2011-12 academic year). This has resulted in more than 50 partner agencies in the Twin Ports supporting and gaining from our students! To put this in perspective, UWS, the smallest school in the UW-System, offers more AS-L classes than UW-Milwaukee and nearly as many as UW-Madison -- the two biggest schools in the UW-System.

What goals have you set for the next 5-10 years?

Personally, I would like to hold a Superior City Council or Douglas County Board seat. I'm also really excited to be a mom and begin this next step in life with my partner. Professionally, I plan on pursuing and earning a doctorate degree in education administration or a similar field.

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