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.’
May 13, 2024

Inspiring Graduate: Genevieve Czaplewski (’24)

As someone who traveled far from home to attend college, it was important for Genevieve Czaplewski to find a campus where she felt like every piece of herself belonged. 

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

Inspiring grad Genevieve Czaplewski
Genevieve Czaplewski receives her diploma from Chancellor Katherine Frank / UW-Stout

A recipient of multiple awards in research, Czaplewski also competed for four years on UW-Stout’s gymnastics team, rounding out her senior year by competing in her specialties on the balance beam and floor exercise.

In March, the team placed fifth at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Division III national championship meet with a score of 191.650, its second-highest score in team history.

The Blue Devils also set a program record at nationals on the balance beam with 47.800. Czaplewski tied for second in the balance beam with a personal best 9.825, tying for second best score in program history. She was one of four teammates who earned individual All-American honors. 

Czaplewski was also one of 48 students this spring who received the UW-Stout Scholar Athlete Award, given to senior student athletes with a cumulative 3.5 grade point average.

“Looking back on my career here, I am proud to call myself a well-rounded Blue Devil,” she said. “I take pride in what I achieved academically and athletically, putting myself out there socially, and the ways in which Stout helped me grow in all of these areas.”

Inspiring grad Genevieve Czaplewski
Genevieve Czaplewski was the undergraduate student speaker at the CAHS commencement ceremony / UW-Stout

Czaplewski earned her B.S. in applied social science on May 4, along with 1,037 graduates.

As commencement speaker at the CAHS ceremony, she encouraged her peers to consider “What do you want to do in life, what makes you tick, and how does that affect the person next to you?

“Self-reflection like this inherently reminds us that we are more than our degrees and our jobs. You have the power to inspire yourself and others with what you do, but first, you have to know what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how it may affect the world around you. Move forward with the intent of sowing positive change in every facet of your life.”

Czaplewski will attend law school and focus on a career in civil rights litigation or policy. First, she plans to take a year off to work and travel with her partner.

Inspiring grad Genevieve Czaplewski
Genevieve Czaplewski is planning for a career in civil rights litigation or policy / UW-Stout

How has your UW-Stout experience changed you?

My experience at Stout has allowed me to realize the importance of collaboration and empathy for those around you, especially toward those you do not agree or get along with.

My time as a history and politics student taught me that we do not always have to agree, but my education in applied peace studies taught me that we must humanize one another and see people as more than the qualms you have with them. 

I think that’s a really valuable thing I’m taking away, especially in today’s tense political and social environment.

How well has UW-Stout prepared you to work in your field and why?

The field of social science is broad but consistently dependent on being able to listen to differing opinions, critically approach claims, synthesize a vast amount of information, and discuss difficult social problems with tact and compassion. 

My time in the applied social science program at Stout has gone above and beyond in these areas. My courses covered a vast array of historical and contemporary topics and issues and allowed students the space to discuss and respectfully disagree on them.


Inspiring grad Genevieve Czaplewski
Genevieve Czaplewski was awarded the CAHS Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher for 2024 / UW-Stout

Additionally, the professors in the program always have their students’ best interests at heart and are consistently willing to help in any way they can, even outside of the classroom. 

As an aspiring law student, I feel aptly prepared by my education at Stout to take that degree head-on.

I was one of nine undergraduate students from eight universities across the country who worked to improve the health of the Red Cedar watershed last summer with LAKES REU. We collaborated with professors and students across disciplines to research pollution in the watershed and sought to develop sustainable solutions.

With Professor Kim Zagorski, I examined public trust in scientific institutions, like the Department of Natural Resources and public health departments, and how drinking water habits and perceptions of the safety of drinking water can be influenced.

I presented my research “The Influence of Trust in Science and Political Leaning on Perceptions of Drinking Water Quality” at Research in the Rotunda at the state Capitol this spring.

Students from across country impact community relations, watershed sustainability with UW-Stout mentors

LAKES researchers to present on health of area lakes, rivers on Aug. 3 at Raw Deal in Menomonie
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What stands out about your UW-Stout experience?

What stands out to me are the people. The applied social science program is filled to the brim with outstanding and caring professors, students, and staff, and they are the part I will hold onto the tightest while I move through the next phase of my life. 

In the program, your professors are more than that: they are your life mentors, sounding boards for ideas and apt listeners to vent to. Your classmates become your best friends and you all push one another to be the best students you can be.

As someone who lives very far from Stout, having people like this in my life that I can lean on has been especially comforting.

The 2024 UW-Stout gymnastics team, which qualified for the NCGA national for the second straight year and third time in four years.
The Blue Devils placed fifth at the NCGA Division III national championships / UW-Stout Athletics

How did your involvement on campus impact your experience?

My experience on the Stout gymnastics team was truly life changing. I learned to put my own goals aside in favor of helping the team move forward, as well as how to have hard and uncomfortable conversations with people you love and care about. My teammates and coaches sincerely are my family, and we’ve shared so many wonderful experiences. 

As someone who has been in the sport for 18 years and always dreamed of being on a college team, there is no other way I would have liked to finish my career than being an All-American and a Blue Devil. 

Inspiring grad Genevieve Czaplewski on the balance beam
Genevieve Czaplewski tied for second in the balance beam at nationals / UW-Stout Athletics

In addition, at UW-Stout’s annual Research Day, I was awarded the College of Arts and Human Sciences Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher for 2024, and I am extraordinarily proud of this award. 

This comes in the wake of my completion and continuous presentation of three distinct research endeavors over a two-year period. Research is something I never thought I would be doing during my undergraduate career; I did not even fully understand what it was when I first entered the major.

Over time though, research has become one of my favorite academic activities, and I wish to pursue it in some degree after I graduate.

Also, during Research Day’s WiSys Quick Pitch competition, I was awarded first place for my presentation of “Fringe Media Consumption and Perceived Intelligence of the Opposite Gender: Are They Related?” for which Program Director Tina Lee was my mentor.

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

Coming into college, I was quite terrible at receiving constructive criticism about my work. I was extremely defensive and constantly believed that nothing ever needed to be improved. 

I realized I had to change that mindset shortly after starting my time at Stout. It was a long process that I’m still working on.

Inspiring grad Genevieve Czaplewski
Genevieve Czaplewski celebrates at commencement after crossing the stage / UW-Stout

The starkest example of this change in myself is exemplified by my time in the capstone course. That class is dependent on being able to receive critical feedback from professors and peers. I was proud of myself for finally realizing that my classmates were just trying to help, and I could make my work better by listening to them. 

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

As I look forward to my next steps in life and reflect on what I’ve gained from my time at Stout, I am most proud of my personal growth. I have learned how to focus on compromise rather than winning an argument, the importance and fulfillment of working towards something bigger than myself, and the value of listening to others’ opinions and life experiences. 

I really think I am a totally different person than when I started my education here, and I have my professors, peers, teammates and coaches to thank for that.

I am sincerely grateful for all the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had at Stout, and I would not trade them for anything.

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