September 16, 2019

An unexpected turn in the road

Adversity and perseverance led Sydney Landgraf to UWS

Sydney Landgraf in front of Old Main

Sometimes, life doesn’t lead us where we thought we would go. But, often, unexpected turns in the road lead us right where we belong. Sydney Landgraf is living proof of this.

Sydney was a first-year student at a larger regional university and a member of the cheer squad when a stunt went horribly wrong, leaving her with a concussion that ultimately turned into a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“I was in doctors’ offices nearly every day over J-Term,” she said. “I had to medically withdraw from my first semester and was out for a month. I had to work with physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and a psychologist to recover. It was a really tough time for me.”

After weeks of intense rehabilitation, Sydney was finally able to return to the cheer squad. Sadly, only a week later during a youth camp the cheer team hosted on campus, she suffered another blow to the head. “A young girl basically freaked out in the air during a stunt, flailed, and hit me with her elbows directly in both of my temples.”

Sydney had to face the harsh reality that her cheerleading days were over. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, her other passion was off the table, too – power lifting, a sport in which she earned fifth place in the national tournament her sophomore year of high school. 

“I basically chose my former college because of the cheer team,” she said. “When that was over, I just didn’t feel like it was the right place for me anymore. I needed a fresh start and in my heart, I knew exactly where I should go.”

The right place all along

Sydney was no stranger to UWS. She had toured three times – once as a high school junior, once as a senior, and just a few months before making her final decision. Each time, she said she felt welcomed, supported, and at home.

“The moment I knew for sure that UWS was where I was meant to be was when Taylor Walkky-Byington , who is now my academic advisor, remembered me from my visit two years ago,” Sydney said. “That was huge for me because during my entire time at the other school, none of my professors knew me at all. My smallest class had 45 students and the rest were over 90.”

Throughout all the bumps in the road, Sydney never wavered from her goal of being a teacher and a coach. She has now transferred to UWS and is majoring in elementary and special education, with a dream of someday teaching at the middle school level. “I feel like that’s such an important time in kids’ lives,” she said. “It’s when they figure stuff out and discover who they are. I want to play a positive role for them, and ideally, I’d like to stay here in the Twin Ports area. I love it here and I feel like this is where I belong.”

As Sydney is settling into her new life at UWS, she is looking forward to getting involved on campus. “I love the outdoors and the beauty of this area, so I definitely plan to take advantage of Superior Adventures,” she said. “I also want to participate in the Study Away program to study at another university in the southern U.S. for a semester, and I’m definitely excited to join Chi Alpha (an on-campus Christian student organization).”

Sydney may no longer be able to be on a cheer squad, but now she has an entire campus community cheering for her.


Boasting the highest percentage of transfer students of all UW System schools, UW-Superior understands the needs of transfer students. Our dedicated transfer coordinator provides one-on-one support to ensure a smooth transition. If you're interested in transferring to UWS, take the first step by contacting for more information.



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