The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay bade farewell to a record class — and its 30,000th alumnus — during spring commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 12 at the Kress Events Center. More than 700 new alumni crossed the stage during the ceremony, out of more than 900 who are eligible to receive degrees in May and August. Public Administration Major Leo Moua was recognized as representing UW-Green Bay’s 30,000th alum, marking a major milestone more than four decades after the University’s first commencement.
“I just feel like I must have the greatest job in the world,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Thomas K. Harden, “to be able to see all of these people beginning a new part of their lives, completing a program at the University, and ready to do great things in the world. I just couldn’t be happier.”
Of course, the grads themselves were pretty happy, as well. Mawuenam Mensah, a native of Ghana, was celebrating completion of her UW-Green Bay master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy.
“(It) feels awesome, feels so good, I’m relieved — it’s a success to me,” Mensah said. “It’s two years of toughness, and I mean, challenges, but I’m glad it’s done now and I’m just so happy. I’m ecstatic.”
Each graduate had his or her own reason for choosing UW-Green Bay. For graduating senior Katie Phillips, the campus — and the opportunities it offered — just felt right.
“I really wanted to find somewhere that I could see myself being, and having a growing opportunity,” Phillips said, “not just somewhere I could go and be a student (but) somewhere I could go and become a person. It just always felt like a right fit for me.”
UW-Green Bay graduates said it was a combination of learning both inside and outside the classroom that prepared them for graduation — and whatever their futures may hold.
“We have the practical experience of, you get to go to the factories, you know, the industries, to see things as they happen,” Mensah said. “So it’s just not a classroom experience, but it’s an outside experience, which is wonderful.”
Getting involved early and often was the key for seniors like Jonathan Eckelberg, a Communication grad who worked on campus, completed internships and more.
“I just think all of the different opportunities that we have on campus to get involved,” Eckelberg said, “and it really gives you a more well-rounded education, both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. So you’re really ready for anything.”
Saturday’s graduates earned their degrees in more than 40 undergraduate and graduate majors, representing myriad interests and future paths. But they have at least one key thing in common, Harden said.
“We have 900 graduates, each one with their own unique strengths and their own opportunities to improve the world,” Harden said. “And what really binds us all together right now is our connection with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.”
Graduating senior Amy Manske echoed Harden, noting her education and larger UW-Green Bay experience will forever connect her to her fellow grads.
“It’s about community, it’s about – we’re kind of one big happy family,” she said. “And you may not know all the cousins’ names, but when you walk by them and you see familiar faces in the hallways, you know that they’re part of what you are, which is UW-Green Bay.”
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