PERSONAL ESSAY: April 27, 2019

I want to extend my gratitude to the Don Walker Memorial Scholarship Committee. Graduation is quickly approaching, and I can confidently walk across the stage knowing I have accomplished my goals for my college career with help from you. I am proud that soon I will be a UW-Milwaukee alum with the hope of reporting as a multimedia journalist after graduation.

The Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies program at UWM has a special place in my heart where I have made fond memories and lifelong friends. I enjoy going to the JAMS lab on campus where I can work alongside my teachers and classmates. The JAMS department is a strong and supportive community. Students are encouraged to get involved in the Milwaukee community, and because of the JAMS department I have done just that. This semester, I interviewed three technology businesses to discuss how technology has evolved and how it is growing in a city such as Milwaukee. These stories are submitted in class and later published on Media Milwaukee. I’ve had these opportunities every semester, and I learn valuable journalistic skills that I can apply in the future.

I am excited to earn my American Sign Language minor at graduation. Throughout my college career I have volunteered within the deaf community. The rich history and culture of the deaf community has left an impression on my heart, and I hope to continue to stay engaged and connected.

When I am not working or doing course work, you can find me at a local coffee shop or trying new restaurants with my friends. I like exploring new places and hope to do so after graduation. I am eager to start a career where I can be a storyteller and be creative at the same time. I am applying as a multimedia journalist to news stations across Wisconsin and Illinois to report on current, important and compelling stories within community.

– By Cassandra Daniel Bretl


Cassandra Danielle Bretl, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has been named the third recipient of the Don Walker Memorial Scholarship.

Bretl is from Rockford, Ill., and has worked at UWM Post and Media Milwaukee throughout college. She currently has a 3.5 GPA and expects to graduate in spring 2019 with a degree in Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies.

A multimedia journalist, Bretl is experienced in software programs such as Photoshop, InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Soundslides and Adobe Audition. She also is proficient in American Sign Language.

She was interviewed in September 2018 by Don Walker Scholarship Committee member Mike Juley:

When did you first become interested in journalism?

When I was younger, the only thing I knew for certain is that I enjoyed writing and storytelling. I gravitated toward writing down my thoughts and emotions in times of struggle or confusion. Once I discovered that I wasn’t alone in this notion, I wanted to become a part of something much bigger than myself.

Telling stories of people who are looking for help, hope or love and shedding light on important issues that surround a community are of great importance. I am interested in breaking the barrier and sharing that information to others.

How did you determine that a multimedia track would be the best journalism career for you?

I joined my high school newspaper club and discovered I enjoy print writing and editing alongside creative writing. My first two years of college solidified my desire to pursue print writing. After my second year of college, I got an extraordinary opportunity to work with reporters and anchors at my local news station, WIFR 23 News, in Rockford. I walked into the newsroom without any experience with a camera or editing software. The only goal was to dip my toes into all aspects of media and learn everything I could during the short summer internship.

After learning how to edit audio and video, I fell in love with the concept of going out on a story and coming back to the newsroom with various kinds of content. Video and audio storytelling have unlimited possibilities. I appreciate and cherish the act of navigating through various kinds of content to discover and create a compelling story.

What motivated you to begin a career in journalism?

Finding individuals that have interesting and important stories to tell help me grow and learn new perspectives. As a journalist, I get to meet new people and expand my knowledge every day. I also get the opportunity to enter the lives and homes of a community and learn about what ignites the surrounding community and what actions need to be taken to help it thrive.

Why did you choose UWM for your college education?

The Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies department is what originally brought me to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After my first year at UWM, I learned more about Milwaukee’s history and the many opportunities that make it a thriving and exciting city.

I also discovered American Sign Language. UWM is one of the few universities that offer ASL, and I wanted to strengthen my skills here and complete my minor. UWM is more than a college campus. I feel as though the staff focuses on each student individually and encourages students to explore and find their niche in the Milwaukee community.

After my college career, I would like to discover how I can better leave my mark on Milwaukee as a multimedia journalist.