Angie Ruppe  Angie Ruppe, Interim Director
 ASPIRE Student Support Services, Disability  Grant 
 Background: Hello and welcome to TRiO Student Support  Services! My name is Angie Ruppe and I am the Director of the  SSS-Disability Grant. I graduated from the University of  Wisconsin-River Falls with a major in Psychology. Shortly after, I attended graduate school at Saint Mary's University of  Minnesota, where I completed a Master's Degree in Counseling  and Psychological Services in 2005. I obtained my Licensed Professional Counselor license in the state of Wisconsin in  2009. I went back to graduate school to obtain a Master's of  Business Administration degree from the University of  Wisconsin-Eau Claire in December of 2010.
 I come to UW-Stout with a unique professional background in  teaching, management, and counseling. Above all, I am a strong  supporter of life-long learning, whether this is from formal  education or from our experiences. Anything is possible if we are willing to take the risk to change, learn, and grow. I am here to advocate for and help students achieve their educational goals.

What I do in my free time: I enjoy spending my free time with family and friends. I am also passionate about working with Habitat for Humanity, a group I have been a part of since undergraduate school. I currently serve as President of the Board for the Chippewa Valley Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Favorite Quote: "The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination." -Carl Rogers Humanistic Psychologist
Angie Swenson-Holzinger  Angie Swenson-Holzinger, Interim Director
 ASPIRE Student Support Services, Classic Grant

Background: I was a first-generation college student at the  University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where I completed my degree in Business Administration. There I found my passion for higher education and working with college students and decided to  pursue my master's degree in College Student Personnel at Western Illinois University. My career has included time as a  Residence Hall Director, Alcohol Education Grant Program Coordinator, and Academic Advisor prior to starting in this role. I truly love working on a college campus and helping students succeed here.

What I do in my free time: I LOVE to travel. So, in my free time, I am often traveling, planning travel, or reading and dreaming about travel. In addition, I am a big fan of TED talks and cat videos, so you can find me on YouTube in my free time, too.

Favorite Quote: "When people undermine your dreams, predict your doom or criticize you, remember they're telling you their story, not yours." -Cynthia Occelli

Julie  Julie Adams, Office Manager

 Background: I attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and have enjoyed working with non-profits and within the University setting. My main goal is to always make each student feel welcome in ASPIRE Student Support Services and, also, to let them know how happy we are that they are here!
What I do in my free time: I absolutely love creating  watercolors, writing family cookbooks and eventually the great  American novel, antiquing, taking walks with my husband and  puppy, visiting my 3 grown children, and hopefully, learning to snowshoe this winter.
Favorite Quote: "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." -Mark Twain
Margaret Kitz

 Margaret Kitze, Writing Specialist

Background: As a first-generation, low income student at the  University of Wisconsin-River Falls, I completed my BS degree in Education with a major in Public Speaking and a minor in English and History. Eventually, I acquired a Master's degree in English and taught English for 33 years. My last 25 years were completed at Menomonie High School. This is my 8th year as a Writing Specialist for ASPIRE students, and I continue to love  helping students with their writing and speaking assignments.

Interests: "Pinkifying" my world.

Favorite Quote: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."  -Friedrich Nietzsche

Becky Marine-Border

 Becky Marine, Case Manager

Background: I am a first generation college student with an undergraduate degree in Vocational Rehabilitation/Special Education and a Master's degree in Vocational Education Administration.  I was one of the first three public educators in Wisconsin to gain my National Certification, and I am proud of the fact that I was the Wisconsin Special Services Teacher of the Year in 2007.  Education is my passion and I have been fortunate to teach at all instructional levels, from preschool through college.  Of all the honors and awards I have received over the years, I consider the opportunity to work with and serve our students the greatest reward of all.

What I do in my free time:  Most of my free time is spent exercising (weight lifting, biking, golfing, walking, doing yoga and even hula hooping), reading, attending music concerts, and hanging out with my family.

Favorite Quote:  "I believe that if you look at yourself and see what is right instead of what is wrong, that is the true mark of a healthy individual." - Unknown

Nick Jakusz  Nick Jakusz, Advisor and Math Specialist

Background: I completed my Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics with a Secondary Education emphasis at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I have enjoyed a career in education and advising ever since in roles as a Developmental  Skills/Mathematics Specialist, Academic Advisor, High School Math Teacher, and Baseball/Softball Coach. I strive to make everyone around me better, especially helping all students succeed in their academic and life endeavors. I recently began my master's degree program in education here at UW-Stout.

What I do in my free time: Play with my newborn daughter Azalea, fish, hike, adult league softball, bird hunting with my dog Juke (a two-year old Vizsla), exercising, attending/volunteering  for community events, and much more.

 Favorite Quote: "The things that count the most cannot be  counted." -Anonymous

Gail Mentzel

 Gail Mentzel, Advisor

Background:  I joined the ASPIRE Student Support Services office at UW-Stout after relocating to the Menomonie area.  Prior to starting my position with ASPIRE, my career in higher education has included: academic advising, teaching college success strategies and psychology courses, processing financial aid awards, and recruitment.  I earned my undergraduate degree in psychology at UW-Eau Claire and discovered my passion for working in higher education with my first job as an Admissions Counselor for Michigan Technological University.  After two years in Admissions, I returned to college and earned my Master's degree at UW-La Crosse in College Student Personnel.  I am a passionate advocate for higher education and supporting student success.  I am passionate about my own life-long journey of intercultural learning and development, and I am committed to the work of advancing equity, diversity and social justice on campus.  Students are my priority and are welcome to stop by to see me anytime!

What I do in my free time:  Most of my free time is spent with my husband and children!  My oldest children are in college and thoroughly enjoying their time as students.  My youngest son participates in high school athletics, and I love watching him play football and basketball.  I am a huge Packer fan!  I also enjoy reading long novels (a series is perfect!), traveling, going out to eat, and spending time outside in the warmer months.

Favorite Quote:  "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle


Jessica Wekkin, Advisor and Writing Specialist

Background:  I completed my Bachelor's degree in Writing at Bethel University and went on to obtain my Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing from Hamline University.  Before coming to UW-Stout in 2013, I taught college-level writing for 5 years.  My favorite classes to teach were first-year composition and creative writing.  While teaching, I realized how much I enjoyed working with students individually, so I came to UW-Stout as a First Year Advisor in the Advisement Center.  I moved to the ASPIRE office in 2015 and find this job to be a perfect combination of my professional interests and experience in both advising and writing.

What I do in my free time:  I live in Hudson, Wisconsin with my husband, 3-year-old son, and dog.  We enjoy spending time on the St. Croix River, in the local parks, and going for walks in our neighborhood.  I have been fascinated by the sky all my life, so I spend a lot of my free time in my yard with my telescope and reading about or looking at pictures from space missions.  My current favorites are the Cassini, which is studying Saturn and its moons; New Horizons, which flew by Pluto in July 2015; and the Europa mission, which is scheduled to launch in the 2020s.  I love to read and appreciate many types of genres, including children's literature, which my son and I enjoy reading together.

Favorite Quote:  "There is a fine line between a critical mind and a critical spirit." - Paul Blezien