Tamra Schneider, native of Richfield, WI, is set to graduate from Winona State University, grateful of her college experience, proud of her accomplishments, and knowing that whatever she does next, she wants to make a difference in this world.

Schneider, an Individualized Studies major with a Communications Studies minor, struggled with challenges throughout college–from mental health issues, a death in the family, and having a hard time deciding on a major.

Schneider shares that she also struggled with her mental health during high school and didn’t always think she would make it to college graduation.

She would often hear her aunt, a WSU alumna, speak highly of Winona State, so she decided to check it out.

“I visited WSU and after one tour I was sold,” she says. “I just loved it.”

Entering college, and knowing her previous struggles, Schneider says she made every effort to pave a new path and use WSU’s services to help her along the way to graduation.

My biggest piece of advice is to talk to someone. No matter how hard it seems, you need to welcome people into the conversation.

This means talking to disability services, counseling services, and your professors.

She credits those professors with supporting her and giving her crucial guidance along the way – especially when it came to deciding on her major.

I have a ton of passions. It was super difficult finding the one that worked for a major. WSU helped me find what I was good at.

During my time at WSU, I had at least 13 majors because I was just trying to find something that fit.

Finally, about a year ago, a professor sat me down and said: “Look, pick something – anything, and tell me why it makes you happy; and let’s build something around that.”

That professor was Dr. Tammy Swenson Lepper, whose helped Schneider create a plan to major in Individualized Studies where she could choose a program path that involved many of her passions.

“My professors ended up being some of the best people to go to for both school and life problems,” she shares, as they helped her find what she was good at and encouraged her to pursue her passions.

In addition to Dr. Swenson Lepper, Schneider also gives a shout out to Drs. Alan Dunbar and Dylan Blumentritt for their support and insight.

While Schneider doesn’t have specific plans after graduation, she does have a dream: becoming a missionary.

In her major, she took classes in Spanish, global studies, communication studies as well as mass communication. She also used internships and outside school experiences – all to build a degree that would help her pursue her dream.

Now, with her college career about to be in the rearview mirror, she’s reflecting on her journey and what her accomplishment means.

Graduating from college in my book is a huge achievement.

I had to work very hard each and every semester, so now knowing I am going to graduate – it’s a huge deal.

My college graduation is for 14-year-old Tamra. She didn’t know she could do it, but nevertheless she did.

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Emily Vander Laan

Emily is a Public Relations major and Creative Digital Media minor. She is from Lake City, Minnesota and her hobbies include hanging out with friends, reading and writing.

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