A step ahead: Wisconsin Rapids woman to graduate from UWSP at 18
By Kris Leonhardt
CENTRAL WISCONSIN – Kaley Wied will graduate from UW-Stevens Point at the age of 18.
Wied began her education at a bilingual school in Sheboygan.
“Half of my day was spent speaking Spanish and learning math, science in Spanish,” Wied recalled.
“I did that until fourth grade, and then after fourth grade, I skipped fifth grade. Then, I went directly into middle school. We did that because we were headed to Mexico as a family to become missionaries. So, we wanted to do schooling online and still be students of Wisconsin. So, by skipping fifth grade, I was able to spend a year doing online school, actually in person in Sheboygan, to kind of get a feel for the system and get familiar with the course and everything.
“Then, after that, we moved to Mexico. I believe I was 11 when we moved. Then, I proceeded to do middle and high school online; throughout those years, I was able to shave off another year. Then, in the last year of high school, I started doing online college credits as well, so I was able to shave off another chunk of time.”
While missionaries in Mexico, Wied’s parents worked at an orphanage in Puebla.
“Me and my sister did online school in the day time and then we would do crafts and activities in the summer because of short-term missions trips would happen. So, we would have a group of Americans come down, and they would do projects and activities. So, me and my sister would help out. We would translate if we were needed or we would participate, or we just kind of hung out with the kids,” she said.
Meanwhile, Wied graduated from high school at the age of 16, but with the number of college credits she had she was already a step ahead.
“Online school was a breeze. It suited my personality and my motivational level very well. I am a self-paced learner so it was just kind of infinite, so ‘here is the content, go as fast as you want.’ So, I was really able to cruise through it,” she explained.
When Sierra and Kaley picked UW-Stevens Point as their college of choice, with the girls being so young, the family decided to transplant themselves in Wisconsin Rapids.
Her parents still work as independent missionaries, coming alongside new ministries to assist them in developing an identity, with logos and branding.
Meanwhile, the Wied girls needed to get acclimated to their new environment.
“The hardest part of my education was coming back to the United States that first semester of college; it was like a triple culture shock. We had just moved back from Mexico, and then also, college campus culture is a whole other culture by itself. I really hadn’t stepped foot in a classroom for many years. So, that was hard,” she said.
Wied said that the age difference made it difficult to connect with her peers at first, so integration was difficult; but, student organizations and time gave her a sense of community.
“I worked at a small natural food store in Wisconsin Rapids, and they have such a family culture within their employees; that has really been a really good source of support as well, and kind of got me through the tough times too. Even just my family itself; we are a really tight foursome,” she said.
Kaley’s older sister, Sierra, graduated from UWSP last year at the age of 19, with a degree in environmental science and management.
Kaley will graduate with a degree in sustainable food and nutrition this May.
“My next step is kind of dipping my toes in the water of food service. I have never been able to feed large quantities of people, but one of my greatest passions and loves is food and cooking, and the science behind cooking. So, I plan to test that out,” she said.
She will be working in a kitchen at a faith-based camp in Rhinelander, as one of four chefs preparing food for the camp.
Wied said that the thing she is most passionate about though is discipleship.
“I am not sure how my major – sustainable food and nutrition – will tie in with that, but maybe it will,” she added.