November 8, 2018

She’s First!

Erica Bauer, Criminal Justice Major

Erica Bauer, Criminal Justice Major

Erica Bauer is setting the bar high for others to follow.

Strength…leadership…determination. These are qualities that Erica Bauer exudes, and it’s not hard to see why.

“I’m not only the first in my family to attend college, I’m actually the first to graduate from high school,” she said. “My parents had me when they were 17 years old and my dad was never a positive part of my family — always in trouble with the law. My mom worked multiple jobs to support our family and I remember her always being exhausted.”

Erica Bauer

Erica said she didn’t think college would be possible for her. Money was tight and although her mother supported the idea, she was unable to help financially and unfamiliar with the process. But, as her friends made plans to go to college and she saw how excited they were, Erica decided that maybe it wouldn’t hurt to just check into a couple schools.

“I saw other kids in my high school getting help with applying to college and scholarships through the Upward Bound program, but I didn’t want that kind of help because I thought I was going directly into the police academy,” she said.

 “Eventually, though, I changed my mind and got help through Upward Bound to apply to a couple schools. I was shocked when I got accepted to UWS because it was so late in the application cycle,” she recalled. “I liked both colleges, but I chose UW-Superior because it had the same Legal Studies and Criminal Justice degrees, but was half the price and considerably closer to my family.”

Inspired by her ‘Heroes’

Erica started as an Air Force ROTC student majoring in Legal Studies with a Criminal Justice concentration, with the goal of becoming a police officer for a federal agency.

“When I was younger I viewed police officers as heroes. At an early age I got to know the ones in my hometown because my dad had a continual record of run-ins with the law and they were at my house often. I’ll never forget how they helped my mom, me and my siblings, and how kind they were. There were times they got us food and blankets, and just really helped us out. I owe a lot to those officers.”

Plans changed, though, when Erica was in a serious car accident at the end of her freshman year. Her injuries were serious enough to force her to stop out of the ROTC and take a cut in credits just to remain in school.

“Oddly enough, during that time, I decided I really did not want to be a cop after all. Instead, I decided I wanted a career in more of the legal realm. I am still deciding, but I am currently thinking about starting as a paralegal before going to law school, just to make sure I love it as much as I think I do now.”

Paving the Way

Erica said her main motivation all along has been to be a role model for her younger siblings.

“Since my father was rarely around and my mom was so busy, I was basically like the ‘dad’ in our family,” she said. “I made sure my sisters and brother got their homework done, that they were fed and taken care of. It’s always been important to me to show them it is most definitely possible to get a degree and have a better life, regardless of where we came from or what we encountered growing up.”

Erica is setting the bar very high. She has been on the Dean’s List nearly every semester, is president of the Criminal Justice Student Association and vice president of the Criminal Justice Honor Society. On top of that, she works three jobs to support herself.

“I absolutely love UWS and feel I am getting a top quality education here,” she said. “I love the small, beautiful campus, and the professors who are so supportive. This place feels like home and has been the perfect place for me as an undergrad.”

Forty-six percent of undergraduate students at UW-Superior are first generation and the university takes great pride in helping them achieve their education goals. Many students take advantage of the TRIO Student Support Services to help them succeed.



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