Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

UWO Grad now Executive Director of Fox Cities Foundation

Jessica Duch / Advance-Titan Amber Hammond sits in her office as the executive director at the UWO Fox Cities Foundation. She wasn’t sure if college was in her future. But, after graduating, she now helps raise money for student scholarships.

It was a full circle moment for Amber Hammond. Despite the budget crisis at UW Oshkosh, the 2021 advertising and marketing graduate dreamed of returning to the campus that she said gave her the world. 

Last November, she fulfilled that dream by accepting a position as executive director at UWO Fox Cities Foundation. 

At just 25, Hammond embraced UWO’s challenges, one of which was maintaining funds for the foundation. 

“With the uncertainty that we have at the university, a lot of people don’t want to give money. That’s fair, that makes sense,” Hammond said. 

She plans to address this issue by hosting events in recognition of contributors.

“For the first time in years, I’m going to be doing donor events,” Hammond said. “So this spring, I have one coming up just to kind of show that we care and appreciate them.”

Hammond also emphasized the recognition of students who earn scholarships. 

“This might be the first big thing that they’ve gotten, or it might be their first award,” Hammond said. “I think instead of just giving them the check in their bank account, we should also do something special for them.” 

Hammond recalled a sophomore she helped at UWO Fox Cities, Abigail Thomas. Thomas and Hammond met last December at a fundraiser called Theatre for the Mind. Thomas also received a scholarship from the foundation. 

Thomas explained the positive impact Hammond has had on her life.

 “Amber has opened so many new opportunities for me to explore at my school,” she said. “She has always encouraged me to go out and try new things even if they seem frightening at first.”

As a first-generation student, Hammond is no stranger to overcoming adversity for new opportunities.

 “College was never in my plans,” Hammond said. “I grew up in a poverty household in Michigan, and no one had went to college before. So, when I came to Oshkosh, I was really, really lost. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what college was; I knew nothing about it.” 

The community and connections Hammond found were what she said made her time at UWO so special. 

“I had an amazing adviser who got involved in my life as much or as little as I wanted her to,” Hammond said. “There were times that I went in there crying saying, ‘I can’t do this, I’m dropping out of school tomorrow’ and she would talk me through things and be like, ‘No, no! You can if you want, but I’m gonna tell you why you shouldn’t.’” 

Hammond also credited campus jobs and student organizations as being crucial parts of her experience at UWO. One such organization was the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), where she met Carmen Hetzel, chapter adviser for NSLS.

Hetzel said that as president of NSLS, Hammond was crucial in planning events during the confusion of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She was brilliant under pressure,” Hetzel said. “She led with confidence and grace, and yeah, it was a little bit intense and scary at times because we just didn’t know.” 

The online events that Hammond built are still in use today and now benefit non-traditional students. 

“We’ve been able to really serve more students who aren’t on campus,” Hetzel said. “That foundational shift that we were able to change made us more accessible to more members, and more leaders got to participate in our leadership development because of [Hammond’s contributions].” 

Similar to leading NSLS during the chaos of the pandemic, Hammond acknowledged the uncertainties of leading the Foundation amidst the university’s chaotic financial status. 

“It’s sad,” she said. “I do trust that the right decisions are being made, and they are being thoughtfully made because I think that’s important.” 

She also highlighted her commitment to UWO’s students. 

“Oshkosh gave me the world, and I wanted to give back to it,” Hammond said. “Right now, with the uncertainty of what’s happening at the campus, everyone’s on edge there. You can feel it in the air right when you walk into the building. I don’t want that atmosphere to wear on them. So, what’s driving me right now is truly making sure that we’re there to serve our purpose. Our purpose is to help educate people, and that’s what I’m trying to do.” 

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