I was born and raised in rural Richland Center, Wisconsin. Growing up on a small, family dairy farm allowed me to develop a strong work ethic at a young age. Summertime was not a vacation; it was a time to plant, cultivate, and harvest crops. My parents taught me the importance of hard work and responsibility.
I attended public school in Ithaca, Wisconsin. While there, I engaged in several extracurricular activities: drama, band, football, and wrestling.
My college experience started at the University of Wisconsin – Richland. I subsequently finished my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, where I majored in Criminal Justice – with an emphasis in Law Enforcement. I graduated Summa Cum Laude, high honors, with a 3.86 GPA overall and a 4.0 GPA in my major. I was also awarded membership in the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. In addition to my academic studies, I was a founding member of the UW-Platteville Chapter of Amnesty International; I participated in letter writing activities that petitioned to end prisoner torture.
When I decided to transfer to UW – Platteville, I joined the United States Army Reserves in order to supplement my income. Shortly after starting the fall semester in 1990, I was ordered to active duty. I then spent eight months foreign service in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. This voluntary service to my country allowed me to experience a diverse culture; I was confronted with people who lived under less tolerant conditions than what I was accustomed to in America.
When I returned home from my service to my country, I transferred to the Wisconsin Army National Guard in Richland Center, Wisconsin. While there, I was selected by my unit commander to attend Officer Candidate School at the Wisconsin Military Academy. It took a lot of dedication to complete the grueling training. Candidates were expected to function at a high level with very little sleep. Upon graduation a year later, I was promoted to second lieutenant. I received my commission from Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson on July 24, 1993. I then supervised a platoon, which required several distinct characteristics: communication, leadership, organization, planning, and problem solving.
After graduating college, I spent more than five years in law enforcement. During this time, I developed many important skills which directly relate to the practice of law.
I began my law enforcement career at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. I subsequently spent over four years working as a patrol officer for a metropolitan police department near Madison – Wisconsin’s Capital. During this employment, I was charged with protecting and serving the community. This required me to enforce laws, make arrests, and apply relevant municipal ordinances and Wisconsin State Statutes. Being a big-city police officer also required me to engage in dispute resolution. I had to effectively communicate with people from several diverse cultures. Interpersonal skills were necessary to adequately perform my job. Good writing skills were also a necessity.