Patricia Contreras, ’00 BS Finance
Director, Global Community Relations and Contributions
What’s the most important thing you learned at UWM?
As I reflect on my time at UWM, one of the most important things I learned was how the world of business is global. As with most first-generation students, my world was very small. I was born and raised just a few blocks away from RA HQ in Walker’s Point and commuted while I was a student. I believe UWM prepared me for each of my employers. Each company and role increased in geographic scope from the Milwaukee Brewers (state of WI), Kohl’s Department Stores (U.S.) and now Rockwell Automation (global). My time at UWM was instrumental with each transition.
Why did you choose to attend UWM?
Its inclusive campus. At the time I don’t think I fully realized why; I certainly wasn’t familiar with any inclusion efforts happening. What I did know immediately from walking around campus and in my classes, was that I felt like I belonged and could be my authentic self. That was important to me.
What are some of your fondest memories from being at UWM?
Starting the first Latina sorority at UWM focused on community service, Kappa Delta Chi. Not only were we able to create a resource group for female students but our community outreach efforts had a significant impact on our community and also left a lasting impression on the importance of volunteerism on each of us.
Were you a scholarship recipient? If so, what kind of impact did receiving a scholarship have on you?
I was fortunate to receive numerous academic awards, including a Lubar Scholarship. I am forever grateful for the investment by others in my education.
What impact did participating in the SLS program have on your career?
I value the investment our company places in development. SLS expanded my knowledge base and my network inside the company. I also was able to meet Chancellor Mone who actually remembered me from SLS. My favorite activity was the Supply Chain simulation by Dr. Ross.
How have you stayed connected to UWM since graduation?
I was asked by Chancellor Mone to co-chair UWM’s Chancellor’s Committee for Hispanic Servicing Initiatives Community Advisory Board. We are focused on retaining and attracting Hispanic students, with the goal of reaching 25% Hispanic undergraduate students enrolled at UWM in the next few years.