UW-Platteville valedictorian began at Baraboo Sauk County

By UW-Platteville

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – As the valedictorian of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s School of Business, Addie Peper credits being organized and on time for her success. Her journey, however, started with her procrastinating on a major decision.

The Loganville, Wisconsin native could not decide on a college after graduating from Reedsburg High School in 2013. She applied too late to be fully accepted at UW-Madison, where many of her classmates would be attending. Instead she was placed in the UW-Madison Connections program, which starts at two-year colleges. Peper enrolled at UW-Baraboo/Sauk County, where she excelled in the smaller setting.

Addie Peper“After my time at Baraboo, I realized the only reason I had wanted to go to UW-Madison was because my friends were there,” she said. “I decided that wasn’t the best option.”

Upon receiving her associate degree from UW-Baraboo/Sauk County, Peper tried some online courses while she worked as head supervisor at Viking Village Foods, but soon realized she missed the classroom experiences and one-on-one conversations with professors.

“Taking gen ed courses at Baraboo gave me the chance to see what I wanted to explore,” she said. “I found out I had an interest in business, and this helped me really narrow down what I wanted to do.”

Peper enrolled at UW-Platteville because of the reputation and the size of the university. “I grew up on a farm, so big city things are not my favorites,” she said. “UW-Platteville is small, with small class sizes. You are not just a name or number on a piece of paper. I was happily surprised. It was similar to UW-Baraboo in that the classrooms were set up similarly, the class sizes were similar and people on campus were genuinely friendly.”

Her first week on campus helped convince her she made the right decision as well as set up her early-bird mentality for the rest of her collegiate career.

“During Welcome Weekend, I thought campus seemed so huge; it was so much bigger than I had known before, and I thought I was going to get lost on my first day,” she said. “So I left early for class, but then realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I got used to campus quickly. Once I decided to get to class early on the first day, I decided I should listen to what teachers have said in the past and sit in the front row or down the middle in the t shape, because students who sit there typically do better. Ask questions when you have them. Chances are, someone else may have the same question. If it doesn’t get asked, then neither of you will get answered.”

Peper majored in business administration with a double emphasis in marketing and management. She will lead the 2018 graduates by carrying the School of Business banner on Friday, May 11. The honor caught her by surprise.

“I got an email asking if I could meet with the dean (Dr. Wayne Weber). I was like ‘sure, what did I do wrong?’ I couldn’t figure anything out or what it would be about. I said I could be there and asked if I needed to bring anything or prepare anything. He emailed back and said I had nothing to worry about. I had a week to process it,” Peper said. “I showed up, then the dean comes out and (School of Business Director) Susan Hansen was there. They said ‘congratulations’ I smiled and said thanks right away. He said, ‘you have no idea why we are saying congratulations, do you?’ I was very surprised when I finally found out. I knew I had done well in my classes here, but I didn’t know I was the top student. It was exciting and rewarding that my hard work paid off in a way I didn’t think it would.”

Even though Peper took a different path to graduation than some of her graduating classmates, that path led her to success.

“I’m really glad it worked the way it did,” she said. “If I had applied to UW-Madison right away and gotten in right away, I would have gone there. I don’t think I would have liked it as much. I don’t think I would have gone into marketing. I chose that major because of my intro to marketing class. That’s a class I read the textbook fully for because I found the material so interesting. It’s been a journey, but I’m glad it’s the journey that it has been.”

On July 1, UW-Platteville will collaboratively integrate with two-year campuses UW-Baraboo/Sauk County and UW-Richland.

“I think it’s a unique opportunity to join the campuses,” Peper said. “Students who might have gone to Baraboo for the associate degree might now feel they have a better chance to go on for a four-year degree and see more opportunities for themselves. For instance, I am part of the American Marketing Association on campus, and I reached out to a former professor I had at Baraboo about AMA and what we do here. I wanted to see if they have any students who were interested in starting a chapter there or an interest in our AMA here. These kind of opportunities will help integrate the campuses even more.”

Written by: Paul Erickson, Director, Communications, 608-342-1194, pr@uwplatt.edu