Fritzie (Frieda) (Grossen) Meier '56

Although my four years at Lakeland (nee Mission House College) were some of the happiest in my life, three separate campus experiences are the most memorable for me, and perhaps, to some degree, the most life-changing.

In 1952, when I set foot on the college campus as a new freshman, I felt very comfortable and confident. I was, after all, following in my older brother's footsteps, as he was a recent graduate, then enrolled in the seminary. From having listened to his many anecdotes of college life, I immediately decided that this was the school for me. The first evening on campus, when we new fledgling residents of Bossard Hall heard the revised dorm rules, I was genuninely shocked. Freshman girls were to be in the dormitory or in the library every evening by 7:00, except for one Friday or Saturday night, when a 10 o'clock curfew was set. Frankly, I couldn't believe my ears! I had always had a fair amount of freedom as a youngster, so these rules seemed totally unfair and equally preposterous. What choice did I have? None, so I gradually accustomed myself to the new constraints on my free time.

These rules automatically became less stringent as one advanced through the class levels. As a senior, I had permission to be out until 12:30 several evenings a week. Ironically, by that time in my collegiate career, I was so caught up in my studies and in my extra-curricular activities that I rarely took advantage of any of those extra late-night curfews.

How did that experience change my life? In time, I realized that often what seems difficult and impossible to tolerate ultimately provides us with untold benefits. As a result of this early life lesson, I gradually evolved into a task-oriented person who is usually timely, well-planned, and organized.

I grew up an avid reader, so college reading assignments were generally welcoming to me. When Dr. Robert Voight, my history professor, asked us to peruse newspapers printed in the same time frame as a historical event, I became mesmerized by the fact that I could literally turn back the clock and view history from a new perspective. Although not a history major, I immersed myself in these excursions backward in time. Reading is still a "must" for me, and my favorite books are usually historically based or are biographies of people who have changed lives, some for good, others not. Lessons from the lives of others have undoubtedly influenced my life decisions as well.

From my first days in elementary school, I had a "mind-set" that I wanted to be a teacher, although I wasn't sure what I wanted to teach. As a college student, I eventually chose to be a secondary teacher of German and/or English. Ultimately, English won out, as jobs in this area were much more prominent.

The wealth of experiences I had at Lakeland prepared me for my emerging career as a high school English teacher. In addition to conducting classes, I coached forensics and attributed much of the students' success to the fact that I was engaged in numerous public speaking and drama activities in college. As a teacher, I was also asked to supervise development of the school yearbook, and my days as co-editor of the 1956 Spectrum provided me with the valuable expertise I needed. In short, my four years at Lakeland provided me with a well-rounded and broad-based education that served me well in my chosen career.

After three years as an English instructor, I partially "retired" to help raise my four sons but was very busy as a substitute teacher. As luck would have it, one morning I was called to "cover" for a special education class, a call that was both threatening and intriguing. That rewarding experience, along with other similar ones, inspired me to refocus my career. Soon thereafter, I graduated from UW-Whitewater with a Master's Degree in Special Education, with a follow-up teaching position literally in my backyard. Three years later, I enrolled at UW-Madison and received my doctorate in Developmental Disabilities in 1983. This was followed by rather lengthy teaching tenures at UW-Whitewater and Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA. Ironically, I finished my career as a professor in secondary education rather than in special education, the content area I had orginally pursued as a graduate student. I retired from the university in 2002.

Throughout my adult years, I have always been heavily involved with my church and with the local community. As a young woman, I was very active in Jaycettes, where I was first introduced to certain aspects of special education and what the field could offer. I also actively campaigned in support of a new elementary school, as well as serving as a poll-worker during local and national elections. Numerous hours were spent acting in and directing community theatre offerings. Currently, I am very active at my church, singing in the choir, leading a drama group, serving on our church governing board, as well as teaching Bible study classes.

The impact that attending Lakeland College has had on my life is immeasurable. While there as a student, I deepened my faith, I honed my skills, and I realized that much of the value of life came from helping and serving others. As a member of Mission House's last graduating class, I have always been grateful for the wonderful education I received there and thankful for the numerous opportunities I have had to "give back" to others.

Congratulations, Lakeland, on celebrating your Sesquicentennial!

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