Antonio and Judith Saldaña never lost their flame after graduating from UW-Green Bay and have passed on the spark to their two children Nicholas and Savanah. This family of four proudly represents the Phoenix green.
Both Antonio and Judith grew up in Green Bay, and chose to attend UWGB because it was close to home and it was easy to commute back and forth.
“It had a ‘small town’ feeling to it in that the professors seemed to connect with the students,” says Judith.
After Antonio and Judith got married, they continued to live in Green Bay where they have raised their two children Savanah and Nicholas. Nicholas chose to go to UW-Green Bay to further develop his musical abilities while remaining close to his family. Savanah completed her general studies at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), and then decided to follow in her parent’s footsteps and transferred to UWGB.
“Both of my parents are alumni and I have grown up seeing them consistently employed and competent. I believe that this is because of the education they received at this university,” Savanah says.
Antonio received his Associate’s degree in Social Work in 1985, but pressed on and graduated in December of 1988 with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Literature and Language. Receiving his college degree was a huge accomplishment for him and his family.
“I was a migrant worker from age four to age eighteen. Although I am a fourth generation American, I was the first Saldaña to graduate from high school. When I received my college degree, it was an even bigger milestone.”
He might have come from a background of inadequate education, but Antonio truly felt like he belonged at UWGB.
“I had the capability to better myself. The professors were very interested in my background and wanted to hear what I had to say.”
Immediately after graduating, Antonio began his teaching career, and is now in his 28th year of teaching Spanish in Brown County. He was also given a free-lance writing opportunity with the Green Bay-Press Gazette where he was able to educate people about discrimination, prejudice, and racism for 13 years. To date, he is still asked to be a guest speaker and lecturer at UWGB.
Judith’s time at UWGB was split into two parts. Her first phase was when she was 18 years old, and she was considering studying Business or Political Science. She completed her second phase with getting her Associate’s of Arts and Sciences.
“When I returned, the classes meant so much more because I was now ready to ‘learn’ not just memorize. My younger classmates now were also teachers as they offered viewpoints and experiences that were completely different than my experiences at their age.”
Judith is currently employed as the Pre-employment and Certification Test Examiner at NWTC.
Savanah, a senior graduating this May, is majoring in Human Biology with an emphasis on Health Sciences and minoring in Chemistry. She is the Historian for Tribeta, Omega Eta Chapter. While attending UWGB, she has come to appreciate the importance of teamwork and peer support.
“My peers and I are mostly all aiming for professional careers. Having a Human Biology major and a Chemistry minor involves regular late nights of studying after long days in lectures and labs. This rigorous sequence of classes has often involved having classes with the same students semester after semester. Eventually, my classmates and I opened up to each other and have become extremely close. By supporting each other, we have not only been able to succeed in terms of our individual grades, but also by building a great sense of camaraderie.”
After graduation, she will be applying to dental schools for Fall 2017 admissions. Her ultimate goal is to become an Oral & Maxillofacial surgeon, to work on patients with extreme facial and dental trauma and deformities.
Nicholas is a Music Performance Major and an Arts Management minor, and was inducted into the Phi Eta Sigma as a freshman.
“I remember entering UWGB as an 18 year old kid with some good foundational music skills and a mild ability to articulate relatively difficult ideas, and now I find myself to be a 21 year old senior who is reaching a graduate level of musical abilities and tackling tough questions of comparative religion. Being at UWGB has made me ask myself what I most value in life and that has led me start living out my Apostolic Faith.”
He will complete the family Phoenix team by graduating in May 2017, and will press onward to graduate school and pursue a double Masters in music performance and composition.
Feature published on June 1, 2016 on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay website here.