Nicolas Harsy

Bringing experience from his years of training and combat in the Marine Corps, Nicolas Harsy plans to help address veteran needs on campus during his term on the Board of Regents.

Harsy, a University of Wisconsin junior and Marine Corps veteran, was appointed to serve as the non-traditional student representative on the UW System Board of Regents by Gov. Scott Walker. Harsy achieved the rank of sergeant after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2008 to 2013, which included two tours in Afghanistan.

“Nicolas has proven dedication to service and his natural leadership skills will make him a valuable asset to the Board,” Walker said in a statement.

Harsy said his goals include enhancing the student experience, lowering tuition, addressing veteran needs and staying informed on Board of Regents issues.

“Tuition increases is obviously a big thing. It has built up in the past couple decades a significant amount,” Harsy said. “I would say if there is one way that I could try and reduce that, and make it more affordable across the way, I think that would be a good place to start.”

Harsy said when he looks back to his own personal experiences in school and problems at home, nothing could have prepared him for the obstacles he faced in the Marines.

The leadership positions he earned in the military helped make him qualified for appointment as student representative, he said.

“I have done two combat tours in Afghanistan. I have led Marines through combat. I have been through the most unimaginable situations as far as stress, as far as adversity. All the odds are against you, and you still have to perform,” Harsy said.

Harsy served as a headquarters platoon sergeant, infantry squad leader and squad pointman. He has also received several awards including the Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Medal in his time in the Marines, according to the statement.

One of the more difficult squad leading courses he was required to take involved a high stress environment, where each person experiences minimal sleep and minimal food, but the expectations for level of performance are perfection, Harsy said.

Harsy said he tries to remain bipartisan in terms of politics and evaluate each subject individually.

“I want to set up an environment that is better for future students, that they will have a better education and time spent at UW than previous generations,” Harsy said. “Now where that lies exactly, that’s an adventure that is going to take some time for me to figure out.”

Harsy’s appointment was approved by the state Senate and he will begin serving his two-year term on May 1.