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College: My Struggle To Success

After about a year’s worth of contemplating the idea of college, in March of 2012, I, Claudia Maria Gebhardt officially became a UWM Panther. Now what?

The society norm is to have an idea of what you want to do for the rest of your life around the time you have to apply for colleges.  There was a point of my life where I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go to college.  My parents have always been supportive in the sense of wanting nothing but the best for me, even when it came to the idea of college. However, it was still hard to picture when one of your parents went to a University in Germany and the other didn’t even go to college since they enlisted into the Army at 18. Regardless of my upbringing, I told myself that I want to be different.  I want to have a successful future and applied to UW- Milwaukee as my only choice (do not recommend).

Now that I have been accepted to a college, what’s the next step?  When you get your paperwork, they already ask you what you would like to major in and honestly I had no idea.  I started thinking of classes that seemed the most interesting to me in high school, which were business related.

September of 2012, I became an undecided Business student at the Lubar School of Business and I felt very optimistic about it – till I met my advisor. Instead of taking their advice, I decided to do what I wanted and take General Education Requirment classes that seemed the most interesting to me.  By my second semester at UWM, I took a class called Nursing 101 and shortly after I became a nursing major  

I can tell you that as entertaining as Grey’s Anatomy is, it wasn’t enough to keep me in that major.  By the end of my Sophomore year I had a total meltdown and realized that I didn’t want to become a nurse.  I did decide to look around the health field in general, but by the end of my Junior year I still had no idea what to do.  I even contemplated dropping out for good and/or transferring out of UW-Milwaukee to solve all my problems. Realistically, either of those options would not have worked, so I kept moving foward.

Although I did reopen the idea of business, I decided that it would take me too long to finish.  It was finally my senior year of college and I was determined to graduate with something by May 2016.  I decided to take the easy route and switch into Sociology since I had enough credits to graduate on time.  By the end of my first semester, I hated it. You’re all probably wondering what I ended up doing with one semester left. Well, I am still currently at UWM majoring in Information Studies and I will be graduating in May of 2017.  I am using this major more so as an emphasis in marketing, without having a business degree.  Although being within this major isn’t exactly what I wanted, I am doing really, really well.  I even made the dean’s list and felt better than ever about figuring out my future outlook.

Regardless of my major, while deciding for jobs I knew I wanted to look into the business side for employment for when I graduate.  After months of searching, I decided to use my technical background/love of fashion to my advantage.  I am happy to announce that in November of 2016 I accepted a full-time offer as an Assistant Merchant at Bon Ton Corporate starting June 2017!

The moral of the story is, for anyone starting out in college or currently struggling with what you want in life.  Never give up.  Surround yourself with people who want nothing but the best for you and regardless of what you end up majoring in, just know you can do whatever you put your mind to.  Looking back to the beginning of this process, I could tell you that I never thought I would end up working for a business, especially not within corporate retail, but I am excited and fortunate none the less!


I'm Claudia Gebhardt and a senior at UWM - graduating in May 2017. I am fortunate enough to be starting a full-time position at Bon Ton Corporate, Downtown, Milwaukee as an Assistant Merchant in June 2017!
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