Pioneer Spotlight: Demi Vetesnik

Demi Vetesnik

After growing up in Canada, Demi Vetesnik, program coordinator for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Continuing Education Institute, made the jump to the United States for college when a soccer scholarship led her to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“While attending UW-Milwaukee I met my now husband, who convinced me to stick around post-graduation,” said Vetesnik. “Once I had received approval for my Permanent Residence Card, I was eager to find a position where I could serve my community.”

This opportunity arrived in June 2019, when Vetesnik joined the CEI team at UW-Platteville Richland Center. As part of her responsibilities, Vetesnik provides quality programming for the community she now lives in.

You currently work at the Richland Center location, which together with Baraboo Sauk makes up UW-Platteville’s two branch campuses. What do you enjoy most about working at Richland Center? Is there anything else you want to say about the branch campus?

The sense of community and legacy on the Richland Center campus is truly incredible. There is a long history of serving students of the greater Richland area—including international students as they begin their education journey in the U.S.—as well as a large alumni network who continue to support the campus and community as a whole. With some organizational shifts in the UW System over the past few years, I think there was some initial confusion in the community regarding how the changes affected the Richland campus, but it is still the same local, wonderful campus experience. Plus, it now has greater access to resources for both students and faculty/staff in partnering with the Platteville campus.

 What does a typical work day look like for you?

On any given day we are working on programming of all types: facilitating programs currently taking place, programs a week away, programs a month away, programs several months away and programs over a year away. There are a lot of intricacies and logistics to all of the programs we offer and being that we are a cost-recovery department, a significant portion of our time spent is running through budgets to confirm we are able to continue to self-support. My favorite part of my role is engaging with community members. Sometimes we have someone tell us a program they would like to see and so we hunt down a knowledgeable instructor to teach the course. Other times we connect first with an instructor with a great idea for a course, and know that the community will respond positively.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your responsibilities in any way? If so, how have you adapted to the “new normal”?

Covid has affected CEI in that our Community and Youth programming, which was previously in-person, has moved to virtual learning to keep our community safe. Since making this transition, we have learned so much and are grateful that our university is already known as a leader in the online education sector, as we have been able to output content that is engaging and truly unique. After receiving such great feedback from our summer classes, we were excited to get started on fall and really capitalize on the fact that location is no longer a barrier—for both instructors and students.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Receiving positive feedback from any of our registrants is wonderful, but it is particularly special when kids or parents of kids who took park in our youth programming let us know how much they enjoyed and learned. In our rural location it feels great to be able to offer quality programs in town at a reasonable price, partly thanks to local businesses offering donations that we put towards scholarships and T-shirts for the kids. The community comes full circle helping to provide for each other.

What are your interests outside of work?

Anything outdoors! I still play soccer regularly and have coached on and off as my schedule permits. I love downhill and cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, running, hiking, mountain biking – anything that gets my blood pumping in the fresh air!