‘Defining moment’ leads to UW–Madison for Brett Nachman

Brett Ranon Nachman was about to take the stage at the Scottsdale Community College 2012 commencement. He thought he’d be more nervous speaking in front of all of those people.


He knew exactly what he was going to say, practicing it over and over until his notecards weren’t necessary.

After waiting through the usual pomp and circumstance of introductions and thank yous, it was his turn.

Brett Nachman

He started by acknowledging his fellow students, or “Artichokes,” a nod to the school’s mascot. It got a decent laugh.

And then.

“Now I’m sure coming to SCC was also a big adjustment for you. But for me, someone with Asperger’s syndrome, it was beyond intimidating.”

It wasn’t necessarily a secret. Yet he had been fearful of being labeled so it wasn’t something he felt like sharing with everyone.

But just like that, he did.

“That still remains the defining moment of my life,” Nachman says.

It’s led to many others, including Nachman saying goodbye to family and warm Arizona weather when he came to UW–Madison in August 2015.

When he was diagnosed, the doctor told his parents not to have high expectations. He’d never amount to much.

Nachman is now a doctoral candidate at the School of Education, studying with the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

To learn much more about Nachman, his amazing journey to Madison and his important research, check out this in-depth report from Käri Knutson of University Communications.