Fox-11 did a nice job in capturing Saturday’s commencement for Jared Spude, the political science and Public Administration major selected Outstanding Student of UW-Green Bay’s May 2015 graduating class. They interviewed both Spude, a National Guard staff sergeant who enrolled at UWGB after a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and veterans services coordinator Elaina Koltz. Nice story.
We posted about five dozen photos immediately following UW-Green Bay Commencement Saturday (May 16, 2015) at the Kress Events Center. That barely scratched the surface — and didn’t include all that many from the post-ceremony celebrations (see above) — so we’re back with another five dozen or so celebratory images today.
To see our initial images, go to May 2015 Commencement.
Saja Al-Quzweeni beamed with pride on the day she received her master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
She joined more than 700 fellow students in taking part in the ceremony May 16 at the Kress Events Center, but not another newly minted graduate in the record graduating class had quite the same itinerary.
Saja (at right above) was UW-Green Bay’s first Iraqi student and graduate. She plans to return to her home city of Baghdad, Iraq, in a few weeks equipped with optimism and newfound expertise in environmental issues.
“Iraq has many problems today — social, political, economic — but we have the power to address those problems and make them better,” she says.
Before she heads overseas, however, she has a little of the United States to see.
Saja came to UW-Green Bay through the Fulbright Foreign Student program, designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of America and the people of other countries.
Recently, she was one of six ‘Fulbrighters’ selected to participate in the third Millenial Trains Project.
It’s a journey across the United States — leaving from Los Angeles, California on May 21 and ending in Washington, DC on May 31— as an enrichment component of the Fulbright Foreign Student program. The six exchange students will join 20 American riders on the MTP journey to gain an in-depth understanding of life in the United States and to strengthen their skills in leadership, social entrepreneurship, and communication.
During her time at UW-Green Bay, Saja pursued an interest in urban farming and also the conditions that encourage or inhibit citizen involvement in, say, environmental issues.
She worked on her master’s thesis under the supervision of political scientist David Helpap and former professor Dallas Blaney. She chose the title: “Conceptualizing Political Empowerment: Reflections from Non-Governmental Organizations Through the Lens of Civil Society Theories.”
The focus of her Fulbright work will be an extension of research she completed last year at Growing Power, a nonprofit organization in Milwaukee that works in urban agriculture as an approach to increase food security in lower-income and food desert communities. Small plots of land are used for intensive growing to offer healthy and affordable food to inner cities, while merging agriculture and wise environmental practices to revitalize urban areas.
Saja earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Baghdad in 2002, and struggled to find a job amid the chaos of the American invasion of Iraq the next year. She was patient when sectarian tension forced her family out of its home for 18 months in 2007-08, and patient in pursuing her dream to attend graduate school in the United States.
She said she loved the beauty, serenity and friendliness of UW-Green Bay, although the record cold she experienced was a little bit of a challenge.
Saja formerly held a job with the Iraqi government, where she worked as a senior researcher. Whether she will be able to return to government employment is unknown to her at this time. Regardless, she says, she is eager to return to Iraq and work for the betterment of her people.
Julie Van Straten, a 1991 UW-Green Bay graduate and attorney whose corporate career included roles as vice president and general counsel for UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest single health carrier, delivered the commencement address Saturday, May 16, at her alma mater.
Van Straten addressed the audience of nearly 5,000 by introducing herself as a Green Bay native who, as a first-generation college student, paid her way through school by working full-time at Shopko, later at Walmart and also on an assembly line riveting toilet paper and paper towel dispensers — “about as Green Bay as you can get.”
She encouraged the grads to be Green Bay — and UW-Green Bay — proud.
“You are all graduating from the coolest alma mater possible,” she said. “There is nothing better than being in another state, at a meeting or boardroom in California, New York, Des Moines, Iowa, wherever… and someone asks, ‘where did you do your undergrad?’ and you proudly answer, ‘the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.’ They love it. They love the name, they love Green Bay.
“It’s the Packers. It’s the history of championships, of a community-owned team with a season ticket waiting list of ten million years. It’s a solid work ethic and Midwest nice, It’s our champion Phoenix in the Horizon league. It’s the school’s academic reputation. It’s all of this rolled together. It’s a special place, and this special place now has a place on your resume.”
Van Straten confided she was unsure of her direction early in her own college career, but soon found her passion at UW-Green Bay. She changed career plans, shifting from elementary education to pre-law. She majored in English and Humanistic Studies.
“For those of you who don’t know, an English major or liberal arts major can be a great foundation for a lot of careers, including law,” said Van Straten, who went on to earn a law degree from Marquette University.
She described her career experience in the rapidly changing health insurance industry, and talked about the challenges of corporate reorganizations and buyouts, travel, and raising a young family.
Van Straten said she chose the theme for her commencement address about a month ago.
“I took my kids to ‘Mythbusters’ at the Weidner Center,” she said, “and as we were driving out here on Highway 172, we passed a billboard for UWGB that read ‘Champions Made Here’” in reference to the University’s status as higher education partner of the Green Bay Packers.
Van Straten noted the definition of a “champion” is much more than the sports meaning of a single winner triumphant at the end. She asked the graduates to consider all the ways they already are, or will be, champions.
- Be a champion for change. “… (If I enjoyed success it was because) I could adapt to change and could even put on a good game face of embracing change while it was happening. Whether it is in the workplace or in life, the lesson is change is for certain, so embrace it. Not all change is bad.”
- Be a champion for those around you. “Your boss, your company, your peers, your team members, and your family, your friends. As it related to my work, I always said my job was to make my boss look good… Also support your peers and support your team. Help everyone look good.”
- Be a champion for your community “We have all heard the word ‘champion’ used as a champion for a cause, or for a person. I learned so much sitting on community boards like United Way, The Women’s Fund, the Chamber or Community Foundation…..not-for-profits are all like mini-companies and I always said that serving on community boards was like going through a free, mini-MBA case study — addressing their issues and supporting their growth.”
- Be a champion networker. “I always tried to meet and know as many people as I could. UnitedHealth Group had over 122,000 employees and while I clearly didn’t know them all, I tried to know as many as I could. The same held true for our community… If you are staying in Green Bay, get connected with Current, the young professionals organization through the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce. But most importantly, join the UWGB Alumni Network. Stay connected to your alma mater. See who else is in it. Find someone in your area of interest and connect with them on Linked In. Feel free to connect with me there. Keep reaching out and build your network.”
- Be a Champion for yourself, particularly your passions. I am so glad I listened to my heart and switched from elementary education to English/pre-law. It was a better fit for me and my skills and interests, and for someone else, the opposite may hold true. Take what you have learned and experienced at UWGB and go out and embrace your opportunities.”
Van Straten closed by saying, “Congratulations to our University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Class of 2015… our new class of Champions.”
UW-Green Bay welcomed a record crop of degree candidates to the ranks of official alumni at spring commencement 2015. A total of 975 students completing degree requirements in May or August were eligible to participate; about 725 robed up and marched in the ceremony that drew a crowd of nearly 5,000.
To see more photos, go to May 2015 Commencement, Part II.
– Photos by Eric Miller, Sue Bodilly and Jena Richter, Office of Marketing and University Communication
There were plenty of Keifer Sykes fans in attendance when the senior from Chicago crossed the stage to receive his bachelor’s in Communication at the Kress Events Center Saturday afternoon.
Sykes got enthusiastic applause and cheers from a large contingent of hometown family and friends as well as many in the Commencement crowd of nearly 5,000 who followed his standout career with the Phoenix men’s basketball team.
Two Chicago-based filmmakers were in attendance, as well, keeping their lens trained on Sykes at various times before, during and after the ceremony, to capture the joy associated with the big day.
The men from Full Court Films LLC are making a documentary about Sykes, his life and his underdog bid for college basketball stardom (achieved) and his try at making his mark as a 5-10 player in the big leagues of professional basketball, the NBA (to be determined; Sykes spent the last week at the league’s annual combine working out for scouts, coaches and executives in preparation for the late-June draft).
Full Court Films has been tracking Sykes’ career on and off since the point guard was a prep sensation for Chicago Marshall H.S. They have periodically videotaped segments, interviews and both on-court and behind-the-scenes action over the course of Sykes’ four –year career at UW-Green Bay, where he earned honorable mention all-America honors.
They said Saturday they hope to wrap up the project in the coming year. The pair has previously worked on projects that aired on Spike TV, TLC, HGTV and others.
Chancellor Gary L. Miller presented Craig Dickman, UW-Green Bay Class of 1982 and founder and CEO of Breakthrough Fuel, with the 2015 Chancellor’s Award, the University’s highest community honor.
The presentation was made on stage Saturday, May 16, at the Kress Events Center, before an audience of nearly 5,000, as part of UW-Green Bay spring commencement.
Dickman (center, in photo) has been active in support of campus and community initiatives including service on the UW-Green Bay Foundation board and Council of Trustees. He received the award from Interim Provost Greg Davis (left) and Chancellor Miller.
Miller read the citation for the award, as follows:
It is my great honor to award the 2015 Chancellor’s Award to Mr. Craig Dickman.
Craig is a graduate of the UW-Green Bay, Class of ‘82, Business Administration. He is the Founder and CEO of Breakthrough Fuel, in Green Bay. Craig’s genius for innovation in supply-chain logistics and fuel-cost management has made Breakthrough Fuel a partner to some of American industry’s largest and most successful brands.
He generously gives back to this community through leadership positions and board service including, The Harbor Commission, Downtown Green Bay, The United Way, The Chamber of Commerce, and his hometown NFL team, the Green Bay Packers. Since 2012, he has served on the UW-Green Bay Council of Trustees and Foundation Board.
This year, he has won the respect and admiration of many here for his tireless work in leading our Trustee advocacy on the proposed state budget. In countless meetings with legislators, he has proudly carried the message that this community considers UWGB and the UW System to be engines of intellectual and economic growth — worthy of our shared investment.
Additionally, Craig and his wife, Karen, have been dedicated supporters of programs that serve this University’s sizeable population of students who are military veterans and reservists.
Ladies and gentlemen, please me join me in congratulating Mr. Craig Dickman as recipient of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Chancellor’s Award.
Jared J. Spude of Sturgeon Bay, the May 2015 recipient of the Outstanding Student Award presented by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Alumni Association, received an extended ovation from an audience of nearly 5,000 at spring commencement at the Kress Events Center.
Spude earned his bachelor of science degree with a near-perfect gradepoint average and summa cum laude, or highest honors, having completed majors in Political Science and Public Administration.
Before the bachelor’s degree was awarded, Spude, seated with his classmates, was asked to stand as Chancellor Gary L. Miller acknowledged the honor from the platform, reading:
Political Science and Public Administration graduate Jared Spude of Brussels, Wisconsin, has been honored by our Alumni Association as the Outstanding Student of this semester’s graduating class.
Just four years ago at this time, Jared was on the ground — active duty — in Nangahar Province, Afghanistan… serving as a “joint forward observer” with the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division.
In November of that year, he returned to his hometown in Northeastern Wisconsin. He enrolled at UW-Green Bay, and devoted himself to excellence in the classroom… in a variety of student leadership positions…. and in a range of service projects across campus and in the community.
Today, Jared continues his military service as a training instructor with the National Guard at Fort McCoy. It is also my understanding that he is delighted to have recently been offered a position with Breakthrough Fuel.
Ladies and Gentleman, please join me in congratulating Jared for being chosen as the outstanding student of this semester’s graduating class.
The individual designated as “commencement marshal” has the honor of leading the platform party and graduate processional into the hall to begin the ceremony.
For the last decade, that’s been Prof. Cliff Abbott of Information and Computing Science, who holds the honor by virtue of his concurrent appointment in the campus governance role of Secretary of the Faculty and Academic Staff.
On Saturday (May 16), Abbott led his last processional as marshal, as he is retiring at the close of the academic year. Once the platform party was seated, Abbott delivered his one and only but ceremoniously important line that opens ever commencement (“Chancellor, the University community is assembled for commencement”).
Chancellor Gary L. Miller thanked the marshal, as is protocol, but departed from the script and mentioned Abbott’s 41 years of service to the UW-Green Bay faculty. Abbott, a four-time recipient of the University’s prestigious Founders Association Award of Excellence, was given a warm ovation by faculty colleagues, the graduating seniors and others in the audience of nearly 5,000.