Inspiring Graduate: Cherie Mandel, B.S. Human Development & Family Studies

‘I am grateful for the opportunities to challenge my thinking and push me out of my comfort zone.’
December 27, 2023

Inspiring Graduate: Cherie Mandel (’23)

Cherie Mandel
Cherie Mandel, HDFS inspiring graduate / Cherie Mandel

Cherie Mandel always knew she wanted to work with children and families. She earned her associate degree in early childhood education but wanted to continue her education to help families differently.

Mandel achieved her goal and earned her bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies from UW-Stout on Dec. 16, along with 526 graduates.

She will continue in her current role as an early childhood educator and is also looking into positions where she can better use the skills and knowledge acquired in her degree. 

How has your UW-Stout education changed you? 

I have gained so much knowledge that will help me not only professionally but personally as well. 

The knowledge and skills I learned through my courses have been especially helpful in expanding my understanding and supported me in my work of helping others. The course content clarified the deeper reasons behind behaviors and beliefs. Many courses focus on being culturally aware and sensitive.

I am grateful for the opportunities to challenge my thinking and push me out of my comfort zone. These topics aren’t always easy, but they can lead to great change.

I have also increased and improved my communication with others. I pause and consider how and what I want to say before talking, and I use those skills to support the team. I have improved my time-management skills, as well as my critical-thinking skills. 

I am also grateful for my internship as it gave me hands-on work experience, helped me apply theories and knowledge I learned in my courses and allowed me to develop meaningful professional skills and connections. 

What stands out about your UW-Stout experience? 

I want to thank all the wonderful professors and staff I have worked with at Stout and in the HDFS program who have gone out of their way to help me succeed. From answering emails, meeting over Zoom to discuss program progress, answering questions regarding course scheduling, and offering constructive feedback that supported and encouraged my understanding. I am grateful for the interactions and relationships formed. 

The professors truly care and want each student to succeed. Their passion and support were evident of that.

What challenges did you face in earning your degree and how did you overcome them? 

My journey to Stout wasn’t always a straight path. I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 10 years old. A few years later my dad’s degenerative heart disease worsened, and he was no longer able to work. My family struggled to make ends meet, and I began working at age 16. 

Financially, I knew I had to continue working full-time while attending school. To receive my financial aid, I also had to attend school full time. Working and attending school full-time took a toll on me both physically and mentally, with many long nights and weekends spent doing readings, working on projects or doing discussion boards. 

Focusing on the goal and wanting to help people pushed me to continue and earn my degree.

What are you most proud of as you finish your degree? 

While it wasn’t always easy, I am proud of myself for continuing to work hard and achieve my goal. I know those around me are proud, and my mom would be proud as well. 

I am proud of my determination and the work I put into my degree. Working full time while also attending school full time was not easy, but being able to complete my degree while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and continuing to make time for myself, friends, family and work is something that I am very proud of. 

I am also proud of the confidence and growth I have seen within myself professionally. I feel more confident sharing ideas and take value in seeing my ideas come to life. I have a new appreciation for feedback and constructive criticism as it helps me grow and fully grasp concepts and ideas.

Inspiring Graduates

All Inspiring Graduates News
Inspiring Graduates Share Their Stout Experiences Featured Image

Inspiring Graduates Share Their Stout Experiences

Celebrate our graduates as they cross the commencement stage and reflect on the journey that brought them here
Inspiring Graduate: Lauren Arenz, B.S. Early Childhood Education Featured Image

Inspiring Graduate: Lauren Arenz, B.S. Early Childhood Education

‘My experiences at UW-Stout have made a monumental difference helping me to better understand my future aspirations in life.’
Inspiring Graduate: Genevieve Czaplewski, B.S. Applied Social Science Featured Image

Inspiring Graduate: Genevieve Czaplewski, B.S. Applied Social Science

‘I looked for a place where I could simultaneously feel at home and be challenged academically, socially and athletically. Stout ticked all those boxes.’