Three commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 7, at University of Wisconsin-Stout celebrated the success of 1,105 graduates.
Chancellor Katherine Frank addressed graduates and their guests while three graduates and an alumna also spoke at Johnson Fieldhouse.
“Your stories amaze and inspire all of us, give us hope for the future, and remind us of what a gift it is to be a part of this university community and play a role in students’ educational and professional journeys,” Frank said.
Ceremonies were held at 9:30 a.m. for the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management; 1:30 p.m. for the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences and for the College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences; and 5 p.m. for the Graduate School.
In each of her speeches, Frank cited examples of inspiring graduates.
Elizabeth Wentzel, of Plover, spent a year and a half of her UW-Stout journey online due to health challenges and still completed her degree in digital marketing technology in just three years. “The people are what brought Stout so near and dear to my heart. It was easy to have direct communication with my professors. They not only possess a wealth of industry knowledge but are some of the most supportive people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting,” Wentzel said, also citing support from her career counselor.
John Jawson, of Waukesha, 74, a veteran, earned a degree online in golf enterprise management 12 years after beginning the program. “My UW-Stout education changed the way I thought about experiences in the way of sustaining diversity through sports and family life and encouraged me to be a life-long learner. What I am most proud of as I finish my degree is the journey of how I got here and that I got here,” he said.
Andy Campion, of River Falls, earned a degree in professional communication and emerging media, graduating with highest academic honors. “I am proud of that,” he said. “I came from a background of dropping out of other schools and not being able to find my purpose. UW-Stout helped me find my true passion for technical writing, and the professors, curriculum, internship experience, and relevant coursework helped me stay focused and excited to be successful.”
Malia Clements, of Bloomer, earned her master’s in clinical mental health counseling, while working and having her second child, and while her husband battled a serious illness. “I needed to finish to be able to do the work that I wanted to do and am so passionate about. So, I kept going, slowly but surely, one semester and one course at a time and somehow I have finally made it to the finish line,” she said.
Frank congratulated graduates on a job well done.
“This is a world that needs the passion, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and dedication that you have exhibited during your time at UW-Stout. Graduates, thank you for all that you have contributed to UW-Stout and the larger community through the commitment, enthusiasm, and hard work reflected across all areas of your university experience,” Frank said.
Alum and student speakers
Ashley Neby, a native of Menomonie, also spoke at the three ceremonies. A 2010 graduate in hotel, restaurant and tourism management who earned a master’s degree in risk control and safety management in 2012, she works for Rockwell Automation in Ladysmith as the Environmental, Health, Safety, Security and Operating Systems manager.
Neby serves in the National Guard and was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom prior to finishing her bachelor’s degree.
“Do not stop doing homework. Earn your seat at the table and remember that you have been hired to provide input, so share your stories and experiences with the world. Constructive conversation will lead to conflict. Learn how to navigate the conversations early and often,” Neby said. “Show kindness and compassion to people, no matter the heights your career takes you to. Explore your biases, understand how people perceive you, listen to learn, because conversations build connection and connection builds teams.”
Ira Hoffman, of Morris, Minn., majoring in applied mathematics and computer science, spoke in the CSTEMM ceremony.
“When you all exit these doors, I hope you will walk with happiness and pride. I hope you count the small victories right up there among the milestones. As a new graduate, you may feel pressure to change the world or solve every problem that exists. Just know that nobody knows how to fix the world, but you can improve your communities and foster new friendships,” Hoffman said.
Nilu Umarova, of Vahdat, Tajikistan, majoring in real estate property management and hotel, restaurant and tourism management, spoke in the CACHSS and CEHHHS ceremony.
She overcame financial and personal challenges to study in the U.S. with support from the UW-Stout and Menomonie community. “Stout has been a place where many of my dreams came true and where I met so many kind people from all over the world and made lifelong friendships. Thank you, Menomonie, for allowing us to be part of this community. Thank you, Stout, for being my happy place and home to all of us during these four years,” she said.
Emily Laird, of Eau Claire, Master of Science in technical and professional communication, spoke in the Graduate School ceremony.
“I task you with the same thing I task myself, continue to pave the way for those who will one day take the journey we celebrate today. Remember those moments that drove you, those moments that kept you going. Carry them forward and do amazing things. Pave the way for the future generations of Stout graduates just as those who previously graduated have done for us,” said Laird, who works in Learning and Information Technology at UW-Stout.
Provost Glendali Rodriguez presided over the ceremonies, which included music by the UW-Stout Symphonic Band and the Jazz Orchestra, directed by Aaron Durst; and the Chamber Choir and the Symphonic Singers, directed by Jerry Hui.