Abbey Wethal, a 2009 graduate of Stoughton High School, grew up on a dairy farm near Brooklyn in Dane County. She was active in 4-H, FFA, Junior Holstein Association, dairy judging and dairy bowl. During high school, she decided she wanted to go to college at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"I applied to UW-River Falls and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, but UW-Madison was always my first choice," she says. "I was accepted at River Falls and Minnesota, but I was wait-listed at Madison. I think what got me in was all of my activities. Once I found out I was accepted I was thrilled."
When she started her freshman year, Wethal was an ag business major.
"Then I switched to dairy science briefly. That didn't seem right, so I talked to a professor in the Life Sciences Communication Department and I knew that was the major for me," she explains. "Finding out my major during my freshman year helped me graduate in four years."
As a student, Wethal was a member of the UW-Madison Dairy Judging Team, Association of Women in Agriculture, NAMA and Badger Dairy Club. Being on the judging team allowed her to travel and compete in contests all over the country.
Wethal lived in the dorms her freshman year which she recommends students should do.
"It forces you to be around people you normally wouldn't be around," she says. "And the random roommate chosen for me is still my best friend today."
She lived in an apartment after her freshman year. Despite working at Subway during the school year and full time during the summers Wethal graduated with $27,000 in student loans.
"I received quite a few scholarships and grants, most of them when I was a freshman," the 23 year old says. "But living costs in Madison are high."
Wethal had two internships while in college. She believes internships are valuable learning experiences that help make a student more marketable to employers when they graduate.
"I interned with UW-Extension and with Zoetis (formerly Pfizer)," Wethal explains. "They were excellent internships because they were both in the dairy industry which is where I came from."
Today, she works for Kuhn North America in Brodhead.
"At Kuhn I work with farm implements, which is different, since I grew up around dairy."
Wethal is employed in the Dealer Development Department as a channel management specialist.
"I work with our field reps bringing new dealers into our network," she says. "I analyse market data to see if there is market potential for our products in a dealer's area."
She says she likes the challenge of her job.
"I feel lucky to be hired and hired so early," Wethal says. "Kuhn offered me this job in January 2013 before I graduated in May 2013."
After graduation, Wethal lived at home for a year to help save money and pay down her loans. She still works part time at Subway.
Wethal enjoyed her college experience. The only regret she has is that she didn't travel abroad while she was a student.
"At the time it was a financial decision, but looking back what would another $2,000 in student loans have been in the scheme of things vs. a priceless opportunity missed?"