Siblings find a transformative education close to home

For siblings Jimmy and Annagrette Oberholtzer attending the same college was never an intentional discussion. “We were each looking for different things at different times, but we both found our paths here at GWC,” said sophomore Annagrette. As a social work major and the first of the pair to transfer to GWC, Annagrette discovered more than just academics at the Williams Bay campus.

“Of course the first thing I noticed was the beautiful lakeside setting,” she said. “The campus was warm and welcoming, and once I met with my admission counselor my eyes were opened to the opportunities I could have at GWC,” she explains. “In my previous college experience I never had the one-on-one attention from faculty—I really like that the professors know me by name. The connection and trust I have with them and my peers  has helped me overall in my studies.”

For Jimmy, a freshman parks and recreation leadership major, the road to GWC was inspired by his sister. “I was dropping Annagrette off at GWC and we ended up walking around campus a bit,” said Jimmy. “She had me peek in the classroom windows and then we bumped into a staff member who asked about my future plans. I was so impressed at how much the admission counselors were on my side and how they were compassionate about what I wanted for my future. It felt like home.”

Hailing from the town of Lake Geneva, the Badger High School graduates each received the Hometown College Scholarship, a grant awarded to full-time freshmen or transfer students with permanent residency in Walworth County, Wisconsin. In addition Jimmy was the first recipient of the Environmental Education Foundation Scholarship (EEF), a scholarship awarded to a graduate of a local high school who attends GWC full time and focuses on an environmental major.

“I was overwhelmed when I found out I won the EEF scholarship,” said Jimmy. “It’s so cool that the Environmental Education Foundation partners with the college to offer something like this to local students,” he explained. “This scholarship has not only helped me financially, but it’s really boosted my morale and made me even more motivated to do well in my courses. The foundation, community and university are on my side supporting my career goals.”

As siblings and now peers, Annagrette and Jimmy have offered each other additional support through the college experience. “We are stronger in different subjects so we offer each other help if we get stuck on a project or idea,” said Jimmy. “Since I know him so well, I understand how he learns best and vice versa,” said Annagrette. “It’s definitely been beneficial to attend college together, even though we are majoring in different areas,” she explained. “We understand the experience, what we are each going through and how to balance school, work and our family commitments.”

Through experiential learning, Annagrette and Jimmy have discovered a different way of understanding the subjects they are studying. “I love that the faculty use the campus and community as a means of learning,” said Jimmy. “We receive an education close to home and our parents are really grateful we are nearby.”  

“I made the Dean’s List last semester and I was very excited,” said Annagrette. “It was one of the best moments I have had — to come home to my smiling parents who said they have never been so proud,” she explained. “Now that I’ve done it once I’ve made it a personal challenge to accomplish it again this year.”