Eric Craver, UWGB Outreach and Adult Access
Sitting down to talk with Dan Terrio, ’12 and ‘14, UW-Green Bay Adult Degree graduate and local community powerhouse, I immediately wondered how I would keep up with him during the interview. Ten minutes later I wondered how on earth I could hope to keep up with him at all.
Dan, who currently serves as a Learning Facilitator for new employees with Humana in Green Bay, has spent his entire professional career – and indeed, his life – in service of others. Among other duties with Humana, he is responsible for educating Humana Employees about Humana Vitality, the company’s corporate wellness program. Prior to joining the Humana family, he served as the Youth Development Manager with the Greater Green Bay Chamber and served in various other professional and volunteer roles, all primarily within the greater Green Bay area.
Small beginnings, big dreams
Dan lives and has spent most of his life here in Green Bay. He is a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians and spent his early years living on the tribal reservation. Dan’s earliest memories are of a family tradition steeped in service. His grandmother was the tribe’s very first nurse and she spent her life championing the effort to bring health care to the tribe. Also, his aunt is the tribe’s longest-serving council member and his father is an EMT. As a teenager he started working with an organization called United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) which is the oldest and largest Native American youth organization in the United States. At 18 years old, Dan moved to Washington D.C. to serve as co-president for UNITY and he still contributes time and energy to that organization. However, long before he left the reservation, Dan experienced an event that would change his life forever.
Tragedy, recovery and the American Red Cross
At 13 years old, Dan and many members of his family were in a terrible automobile accident when the van in which they were traveling was hit by a train. He, his mother and his brother were ejected from the vehicle. Dan lay at the roadside, motionless and in shock, as he watched the van burst into flames. He received five units of blood that day from the American Red Cross, an organization that would be a part of his life from that point forward. He sustained several injuries, but the most serious was a shattered knee, ending hopes of a school career in athletics. However, not willing to sit on the sidelines, he was walking within three months and, after several surgeries, rededicated himself to involvement in theater, public service and education.
Finding his way to UW-Green Bay – TWICE
When asked why he decided to go back to school, his response is straight from the adult learner playbook. “Up to the point of making the decision to enroll at UWGB I had attended six different schools and I needed to focus,” said Dan. “UW-Green Bay transferred in my existing credits and helped me to earn my degree in one year.” Dan enrolled in UW-Green Bay’s Adult Degree Program with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Self-Directed Emphasis focusing on Communication and Public Relations. “My advisors were great and they helped make the transition back to college seamless,” said Dan. “I earned my degree completely online and I loved it!” But once he finished his undergraduate studies, he knew that he needed to continue. Dan went on to complete his Master of Science degree at UW-Green Bay in Leadership in Teaching and Learning. “I wasn’t sure where I would pursue my master’s degree. I narrowed it down to UW-Green Bay and UW Oshkosh. I chose UWGB because of the program’s focus on service and learning across generations. UW-Green Bay’s program was flexible and featured a lot of online communication which helped me to tailor the program to my needs.”
The Red Cross again and “Dancing With Our Stars”
If you had asked Dan a year ago if he would be dancing competitively, he may have given you a funny look. Rebuilt knee aside, his life is so busy that the idea of dedicating the time and energy required for a dance competition was not even on his radar. However, when the American Red Cross came to him and asked him to join Green Bay area celebrities and others in Dancing With Our Stars, he knew that he could not say no. “I want to give back to the Red Cross,” Dan says in a serious tone. “I want to prove the doctors wrong who told my parents that I would never walk normally again. In preparation for this event I changed my diet. I work out twice per day and I dance two hours per week.”
Modeled after the immensely popular ABC television series, “Dancing with the Stars,” Dancing With Our Stars is a fundraiser for the American Red Cross and features several leaders within the community being paired with professional dancers. This event will take place at the KI Center in downtown Green Bay on Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. The goal of the event is to raise money for the Red Cross in support of its many programs designed to help members of our community in times of emergency. “Ever since my accident I have served the Red Cross and I saw Dancing With Our Stars as a wonderful opportunity to help support the program and to have fun!” “But it’s not just dancing,” Dan added. “This involves fundraising, event planning and much more. It’s like another full-time job.” Anyone who wishes to learn more about Dan and support Dancing With Our Stars can visit his website to make a contribution. Learn more and follow Dan’s progress on Facebook.
Even at Dan Terrio’s young age, he has accomplished much – recovering from a devastating injury, becoming active in his community, starting his own company, speaking around the country, finishing two college degrees and firmly establishing himself as a leader in the Green Bay community and beyond. When asked how he has accomplished all of this and still has the energy for more, his face lights up. “It’s fun! But you have to enjoy the journey!”