Big Buildings to Open Roads: Jonathan Fera’s Journey to Happiness at UW-Whitewater

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Being born and raised in a big city, I became naïve of what was outside the Milwaukee city limits. The city was so fast and so vast that any other area seemed unexciting in comparison. That mindset did not last past the age of eighteen.

I decided to come to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater during my senior year of high school. My advisers informed me of the College of Business and Economics at this institution and it’s positive reputation, so it seemed like the perfect fit. That career path only lasted two days into my time at UW-Whitewater until I switched to a communications major with an emphasis in public relations.

During the fall semester of my freshmen year, a strong depression caused by missing home and wanting to be around my family took over my life. I was socializing with people in my residence hall and in my classes, but it was never enough to be happy.

The city was calling my name to come home. After all, I missed the quick pace environment and diverse culture.

How was I going to spend the next three and a half years here? It was not until I opened my eyes to the amazing opportunities at UW-Whitewater that this attitude changed.

After talking to my Resident Assistant, she mentioned attending the spring involvement fair to look for student organizations to join. I had an interest in political communications after dropping the business major, so I joined the UW-Whitewater College Democrats.

I immediately got involved with the organization and started to make friends outside of my residence hall and classes. It was refreshing to have conversations with like-minded individuals that were passionate about the same things I was.

During my sophomore year, I joined the organization’s executive board as their Communications Director and the next year, was elected President.

Besides the College Democrats, I found the Whitewater Student Government (WSG) and the University Marketing and Media Relations Department.

I started attending Whitewater Common Council meetings because of my role as Intergovernmental Affairs Director for WSG. This allowed me to become more engaged in the community and be able to call Whitewater a new home.

It all happened so fast and I was so overwhelmed by my professional involvement that I began to lose sight of why I got involved in the first place: to be happy.

I was asked to join the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity my junior year from some WSG colleagues. I did not think I was the kind of person to join a Greek organization.

When looking back at that decision, I wouldn’t take it back for the world.

This past semester, I assisted in coordinating the grassroots efforts of the WarhawksVote campaign for the gubernatorial election. This allowed me to have a say in promotional material, strategic messaging and online content through both WSG and University Marketing and Media Relations.

After the election was over, I wanted a new opportunity. I wanted a new project before entering the workforce. After all, this is the last semester to make the most out of what became the best four years of my life.

Fast-forwarding to present day, I am now the Career Social Media Intern for UW-Whitewater Career and Leadership Development. While WSG is a part of the Warhawk Connection Center, I have never worked for the department before.

I am excited by this new opportunity and exciting challenge to better myself and my craft, while helping others gain the skills, motivation and resources to find a job or student organization to join.

After the journey I had to pursue in finding my place at UW-Whitewater, I hope to make that process easier and less stressful for other students.

Career and Leadership Development has the resources and guidance to help students find their place at this institution. To motivate them to succeed and take chances. To help them be happy.