Q&A with a #UWTransfer – Kier Pfuehler

Kier Pfuehler, a Muskego, Wisconsin native, is an accomplished artist and the leader of the Wisconsin Union Directorate’s Art Committee, where she works to bring local and national artists’ visual works to campus. As a role model for other UW transfer students, Kier stresses the importance of involvement and cultivating your own community.

What drew you to UW-Madison?

The city of Madison drew me in immediately. While in high school, my older brother lived downtown Madison. I would drive up from Milwaukee to come visit him frequently and fell in love with the city. After further research, I was incredibly impressed with UW Madison’s academics and involvement. I noticed that the school was extremely broad in what they had to offer, and being that I was not sure what I wanted to major in, it was ideal for me. However, being a C average student in high school, there was no way I could directly get accepted into this school. I decided to enroll in Madison Area Technical College (now called Madison College, MATC), my freshman year, and participated in what they call the “Transfer Program.“ With this program, I had to complete X amount of credits within two years, with a few required general education courses. I also had to maintain a 3.5 GPA. I completed all my courses and maintained my GPA within one year, and transferred into UW-Madison my sophomore year. I’m so glad I put the work in and made it happen for myself.

How did you feel after your SOAR experience?

My SOAR experience was extremely overwhelming, but worth the time. I attended a late July SOAR, and it was PACKED. There were at least three hundred people there and I was freaking out. Being a young transfer student surrounded by what I thought were all freshmen, knowing exactly what they wanted to do, was intimidating. I had no idea what I wanted to do in my life; all I knew was that I wanted to be involved in the arts. However, the SOAR advisors split us all up into groups depending on majors, and undecided students. As I was sitting in a room in Union South in my group looking through all these different classes this campus has to offer, I had a realization that I don’t just want to “float” through school. I flagged an advisor over, and soon enough, they moved me to a room where I enrolled in a First-Year Interest Group (FIG) for the Arts. The advisor strongly encouraged me to enroll in something I love and am interested in, and they insured me that it would make my experience on campus much more memorable and fun. It was the best decision I ever made to become a Bachelor of Fine Arts student at UW.

How did the Transfer Ambassadors help your transition to campus?

Honestly, I unfortunately was not a art of the Transfer Ambassadors group on campus. However, after doing further reading on this group, I feel that they could have helped me get involved more on campus as I was starting out.

Now that you’re on campus, how have you gotten involved?

Now that I have been on this campus for three years, I have discovered Union programming. Even my freshman year, being a student at MATC, I was obsessed with the Union, but felt distant from it because I was not a student at Madison. Now it feels like home. The start of my junior year, I got involved with the student programming board Wisconsin Union Directorate. This group is run by students, offering nine different committees of interest and one club, ranging from Art, Distinguished Lecture Series, Society and Politics, to Hoofers. WUD plans all the student programming within the union, and I mean ALL of it. If you attended a concert on the terrace this past summer, that was put on by WUD Music. If you attended a debate and lecture in Varsity Hall this past semester, that was put on by WUD Society and Politics. If you went and saw a movie at the Marquee in Union South, that was put on by WUD Film. WUD is programming for students, by students. My junior year, I was hired as an associate director for WUD Art Committee. Art Committee runs all four galleries in both Unions: three at Memorial Union (Porter Butts Gallery, Class of 1925 Gallery, and Lakefront on Langdon Gallery), and one at Union South (Gallery 1308). As an associate director, I helped the director lead the committee, as well as worked with artists to book shows, install their artwork, host the opening receptions, and deinstall and package the work. After a year with this position, I decided to go bigger, and was hired as the Art Committee Director for the academic year of 2013-14. I could not be more happy with my involvement in not only Art Committee, but Wisconsin Union Directorate as a whole. It has developed my leadership skills, my business in the arts knowledge, and I have made so many great friends and memories.

What do you wish you had known your first semester here?

My first semester in UW Madison, everyone told me to get involved. However, since it was my first semester, I thought, “Nahh… I’ll get involved next year once I’m all settled in.” However, that is one of my biggest regrets. Even though everyone verbally pushes you to get involved immediately, I wish I would have followed through with that request and ACTUALLY gotten involved immediately, instead of just kidding myself of “getting settled in,” whatever that means. Being a young transfer student, my classes still weren’t too tough, so I could have easily joined WUD Art Committee as a member, or gotten an internship, or joined Photography Club. But instead, I kept it pretty low key. I did well in my classes that first year on campus, however, I wish I would have challenged myself more, and forced myself to join some sort of RSO and made more friends. So GET INVOLVED!

If you’re a UW transfer and you aren’t currently using our Transfer Transition program, but would like to, head here. Don’t forget to connect with @UWNewStudent and @UWTransferPeer on Twitter.

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