When Adam Mahsem enrolled in the School of Freshwater Sciences new bachelor’s degree program in fall 2021, he was focused on getting involved and learning skills that would land him a good job.
Mahsem had been in the workforce — primarily the service industry — since graduating from high school in 2007. When his first child was born, Mahsem wanted a career that was conducive to raising a family. He started taking general education courses at MATC with the intention of transferring to UWM once he determined a field of study.
“I always wanted to come to UWM, and I was interested in the freshwater science program. I had read about how great the research institution is and that it’s the only freshwater school in the country,” he says.
At the time, the School of Freshwater Sciences only offered graduate level programs, so Mahsem enrolled in an associate of science program at MATC, assuming he’d transfer to an environmental sciences program. Last spring, he got a call from the School’s new undergraduate advisor.
“She said they were opening an undergraduate program [in freshwater sciences], and I could be in the first group,” he says. “It’s exciting. I finished my classes at MATC, and here I am.”
Mahsem spent his first semester at UWM taking foundation courses, including biology, physics, computer programming, and a freshwater career prep class. Between classes, work and family, he’s busy, but he wants to make the most of his time in college and to encourage his fellow undergraduates to get involved. Last fall he helped organize the Water Council student chapter’s river cleanup.
And, of course, he’s focused on narrowing down his career choice. As a teen he lived near the Eau Claire River, where he developed a deep appreciation for nature and Wisconsin’s freshwater resources. He’s also interested in the sustainability of water in urban areas.
“I’m interested in outdoor activities, like camping and hiking, so hydrology could be a good option. It’s a lot of reading maps, looking at land and seeing how the water goes across it,” he says. “I also like the environmental stuff. I read a lot about plastics, PFAs, and contaminated groundwater.”
Extending his time at SFS to earn his master’s degree is also an option. Regardless of his path, he feels confident he’ll have plenty of career options in the Milwaukee area.