Two commencement ceremonies on Dec. 17 at UW-Stout celebrated a special “Stout Proud” day in the lives of 594 graduates.
Individual stories of gratitude, inspiration, dedication and courage were highlighted in speeches by Chancellor Katherine Frank, two graduates and an alum at Johnson Fieldhouse.
Ceremonies were held at 10:30 a.m. for the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management; and the College of Arts and Human Sciences; and at 2 p.m. for the 121 Graduate School celebrants.
Frank highlighted several graduates in each ceremony. “Your amazing stories teach me new things, and they also instill confidence in me in terms of how your actions will contribute to the larger world as you move through your personal and professional journey,” Frank said.
Frank cited Sarah Webber, a packaging major from Rice Lake, who said she leaves UW-Stout with more than a diploma and a full-time job. “It is safe to say that my Stout education has prepared me for entering the workforce. However, my Stout experience has also helped me develop strong character and my core values. This experience means more to me than just earning an education. It was about becoming a valuable member of society, learning about how to make an impact, and understanding the world around me.”
Grace Jones, an engineering technology major from Shawano, enters her profession with confidence in her skills and herself: “I have had the pleasure to learn from amazing professors. They were always there to encourage me while I was feeling unsure or questioning myself. They saw the potential in me that I sometimes could not.”
Kate Johnson, of Boyceville, who earned a master’s in clinical mental health counseling, has struggled to overcome multiple learning disabilities but was inspired by Professor John Klem. “He truly instilled a new and renewed sense of who I can be when I live with my truth and not against it. I am changed because he believed in me enough to challenge old narratives and support me in making way for a capable human who leaves this institution knowing she can share this hope to inspire others.”
Jade Krol, of Marshall, an online graduate in special education, thanked her professors for helping her become a critical thinker. She earned a degree while holding a full-time job. “Not only did my professors teach me vital things that will take me far into my career, but they have taught me how to think. I have learned discipline, especially being a (distance education) student, but also deepened other qualities such as empathy, compassion and awareness” and the importance of self-care.
Highlights of speeches by the alum and students included:
Charles Wachsmuth, alum and vice president of Chippewa Valley Bean of Menomonie, the world’s largest processor and exporter of kidney beans, cited important life skills he learned while at UW-Stout, including communication, relationship management, research and critical thinking. “They’ve allowed me to grow and prosper. They will serve you well in all aspects of your life, in your career, in your personal relationships,” he told graduates.
Willa Rodencal, of Waukesha, retail merchandising and management, learned that a polytechnic education is so much more than applied learning and small class sizes. “It’s group learning and encouragement to help those around you. It’s guidance and kindness shown to each and every student. It is that polytechnic spirit that we as Stout students will carry forward into our careers, and we will show that same kindness and guidance to all those we encounter.”
Corey Tallier, of Gilman, clinical mental health counseling, a veteran, encouraged graduates to recognize each success on their life journey and continually celebrate who they are. “Success doesn’t have to come from the job we hold or our current status or position. Success also comes from the steps we have taken and the struggles we have gone through to get to where we are now. Success is defined just as much by our preparation and growth as it is by the outcome itself.”
Frank congratulated graduates on their “well-earned achievement. You make us extremely Stout Proud!”
She also welcomed the graduates as the newest UW-Stout Alumni Association members, joining more than 70,000 alumni worldwide.
Provost Glendalí Rodríguez 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.