How four years of college in Eau Claire changed my life

Sports Editor Trent Tetzlaff reflects on how his years at Eau Claire changed his life

More stories from Trent Tetzlaff


Tetzlaff during Move in day in his dorm room in Murray Hall

I can remember it vividly. It was a sweltering late August day, and I was stuck in the back seat of my parents minivan. I was pinned up against boxes upon boxes of my belongings, not knowing what my life would be like in just a few short hours.

It was move-in day at UW-Eau Claire, and it just so happened to be the warmest day of the whole summer.

As we cruised down the highway, my parents chatted with one another as their favorite oldies station played in the background. Normally this would be my cue to throw on my headphones and get lost in some music from this century, but something was holding me back.

I was worried beyond belief. Worried to be living with a new person in a tiny space, worried to be stuck eating cafeteria food for the foreseeable future, worried to be moving away from all of my friends back home and worried I wouldn’t find a major that I would love and succeed in.

So instead of listening to my music, taking a nap or scrolling through social media on my phone, all I did for those two hours was sit and think about what was ahead of me.

As we arrived on campus and started hauling all of my dorm room essentials up the narrow, muggy staircase in Murray Hall, I started to think; what if I had made the wrong choice.

As I got myself unpacked in my room and got acquainted with my roommate, my parents said their goodbyes and for the first time in my life I was on my own. Unaware of what was ahead, I dove into the deep end and made my way around my hall meeting everyone I could and taking everything in.

Now, in my final semester as an Eau Claire senior, I sit here and look back on my years as a student thinking about how glad I am for taking those risks early on and setting the bar high for my college career.

Knowing I wanted to become a journalist from the day I stepped on campus made everything else fall in place around me. My friends, my jobs, my social life, they all came to me as my time on campus moved along.

I came to Eau Claire simply knowing the campus was beautiful, it allowed me to get three hours away from my hometown and it had the program I wanted. And I ended up getting a lot more.

Eau Claire allowed me to become a completely different person from who I was for the first 18 years of my life. It forced me to try new things and made me become friends with people who I normally would have ignored.

Many choose their university based off where their significant other is going, or how the parties are or just because of its prestige. But for me, that wasn’t the right way to go about it.

College should be the most memorable time of your life, so why not choose the university that gives you the best opportunities? You meet all of the friends that you will stay close with for the rest of your life and most importantly, set yourself up for a career you love and could see yourself in 30 years from now.

Leaving the only town I could call home for 18 years of my life was a huge risk for me and one that I second-guessed for a while. But becoming independent and growing as an individual on such a unique campus changed my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.