Avo-grad-o grad cap design

Parting thoughts from UW-Green Bay grads, mortarboard style

They’ve become as much of a UW-Green Bay Commencement staple as gowns and grandparents. Mortarboard messages provide creative and enterprising graduates an opportunity to share a parting thought with family, friends, the University and the world. They bring tears, laughter and sometimes mystery to those reading what’s in the minds and hearts and on the heads of today’s college graduates. Here’s a sampling of what the UW-Green Bay Class of 2018 shared with those attending 2018 Winter Commencement at the Weidner Center on Saturday, December 15, 2018:

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

December 2018 Grad Caps

– Photos by Dan Moore and Liesl Sigourney, Marketing and University Communication

Registration for 2019 UW-Green Bay Summer Camps now open

Registration for 2019 UW-Green Bay Summer Camps are now open! The summer of 2019 will include Middle School and High School Art Camp, Middle School and High School Music Camp, Rock Academy, Camp Lloyd, Diversity Leadership Institute, Grandparents’ University, Life’s a Lab Medical Camp, Aviation Student Training Experience, Robotics & STEM Camp and Video Game Programming (levels 1 & 2). Learn more and register. Scholarships are available for those who qualify. Learn more about camp scholarship opportunities.

Soaring on their own: More than 400 students graduate from UW-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay proudly bestowed bachelor’s and master’s degrees on more than 400 students during the University’s Winter 2018 Commencement on December 15, 2018 at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. The vast majority of this semester’s graduates are Wisconsin residents, with a good portion choosing to stay, work and invest in Wisconsin. Among the graduates, 110 transferred into UW-Green Bay from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, showing the power of higher education partnership in Northeast Wisconsin. The University also graduated its first (5) students in the Master of Science in Health Management program, meeting the state’s increasing demand for health care professionals. This year’s graduating class includes 425 UW-Green Bay students (390 undergraduates and 35 graduate students) who have applied to graduate at the end of the fall 2018 semester or winter 2019 short-term. The class is almost identical to last year, when the University graduated 437 students. Additional facts about the Class of 2018:

  • 92% are Wisconsin residents and 159 students (37%) are Brown County residents. Much of the class (279) or 63% comes from UW-Green Bay’s new 16-county, four-campus region.
  • Area high schools are well represented, with 43 who are former graduates of Green Bay Area High Schools Preble (17), East (10), Southwest (9) and West (7)
  • Commencing were 26 veterans and 5 international students
  • 54% were the first in their family to attend college
  • Human Development and Psychology lead the way with 50 graduates each; followed by Business Administration, Nursing and Organizational Leadership (46 each) and Human Biology (41)

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

2018 December Commencement

– Photos by Dan Moore and Liesl Sigourney, Marketing and University Communication

Student speaker Putnam ’18 challenges peers to seek more knowledge, more kindness, more love

Lauren Putnam (Human Biology), was the Graduating Class Speaker for UW-Green Bay’s 2018 Winter Commencement Ceremony. A leader in her class and in the organizations that she works within, Putnam strives to lift up fellow students and up-and-coming high school students, to show them the careers and opportunities available in the health care fields. In her speech, she tells her peers that together, they have the capacity for more. See her remarks:

“To my fellow graduates: today we reflect. Reflect upon not only the sleepless nights, the shed tears and depleting bank accounts, but also the amazing friends and connections we have made at UW-Green Bay. Today marks a new beginning — our inaugural season. Some of you may be starting exciting new jobs and others may be going on to graduate school where you can advance your field of study. But as we move forward from UW-Green Bay, I think it is important to never forget where you came from; the people that have helped you along the way. I especially want to thank my friends, my supportive family, my faith community and the incredible faculty and staff in the Human Biology program. Thank you.

Rather than speak about my personal life, I want to focus on you all. Focus on the sacrifices you have made to be here as a college graduate. Sitting among us today, 54 percent of you are first generation college students. You all have advocated for yourselves and your education, navigating the arduous process of applications and financial aid. For that, I am so immensely proud of you. One percent of you are international students. You have made many sacrifices in order to achieve a better education. Unequal opportunities and barriers to success are everywhere; yet here you are, at the pinnacle of your educational career thus far. I hope that you continue to inspire your family, country, and community in whatever kind of work you choose to pursue. Six percent of you are veterans. Your courage, dedication, and commitment to serve our nation are appreciated. Thank you so much for your service.

While I don’t have the statistics for those of you who are married, engaged to be married or have children, I want to commend you on the tremendous love you have shown your spouses, fiancées and children. I cannot even begin to imagine the immeasurable sacrifices you all have given in the name of your education and family. Your love and endurance inspire me. There are so many other situations that I would love to recognize, but simply don’t have the time today. I just want you all to know that I understand the challenges you have overcome to be here. You are truly incredible. A big thank you goes to Dr. Jacobson with the Office of Institutional Strategy and Effectiveness for assisting me in acquiring the statistics used today.

Ephesians Chapter 3 Verse 20 states, ‘Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine…’ This verse has inspired the ‘Always More’ campaign by Audrey Roloff and affected people worldwide, including myself. Audrey’s campaign has revolutionized the way I live my life and before we depart, I want to leave it with you all.

The hard work and dedication that you all have displayed throughout your career here at UW-Green Bay should not stop today. As we move on, I urge you not to become stagnant in your lives. Remember the obstacles you have overcome to be here today. Remember that there is always more that you can do for your community.

Always more knowledge to gain.
Always more kindness to be had.
and always more love to give.
There is always. . . more.”

Congratulations Class of 2018!

UW-Green Bay student featured in WBAY segment for graduating debt-free

UW-Green Bay student Skyla Aissen will be graduating on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 completely debt-free, thanks to determination and hard work. Over the years, the Business Administration major has created and sold kissing balls, which resemble a giant mistletoe, in order to work towards her dream of graduating debt-free. See the full the story.

Thirty-seven ceremonies later, Commencement Coordinator Jan Snyder is retiring

Jan Snyder is retiring after leading 37 UW-Green Bay commencements. During the formal UW-Green Bay 2018 Ceremony, Chancellor Gary L. Miller acknowledged her “continual excellence” and dedication through the years with a special plaque and acknowledgement signed by all living UW-Green Bay Chancellors. Miller’s remarks are as follows:

Jan Snyder Plaque-1“Jan has demonstrated continual excellence in the coordination of 37 commencement ceremonies since spring 2000.

During this time, Jan has overseen the coordination and graduation of about 17,000 students — nearly half of all UW-Green Bay alumni — as they take their final steps through their college journey.

Jan has worked to accommodate UW-Green Bay families in whatever way possible, and did her utmost to ensure the full participation of students with disabilities.

She arranged, on multiple occasions, for members of the military to surprise their graduates with attendance at the ceremonies.

She creatively responded to the unexpected…high heels at outdoor ceremonies, lost tassels, venue changes due to weather, and last-minute arrivals, among them.

She always took the initiative to answer the call – even at 11:30 p.m. on commencment eve.

Jan’s ability to work under great periods of pressure, and handle adversity with grace, composure, and a smile, deserves recognition.

On behalf of the UW-Green Bay community, past and present, your friends, peers and colleagues, and graduates and families, we honor you and publicly express our utmost gratitude to you.

Congratulations and thank you for making a difference!”

New Regent and Nicolet Bank CEO Robert Atwell addresses UW-Green Bay graduates

Regent Robert (Bob) Atwell brought greetings to graduates from the UW System and the UW Board of Regents during the University’s Fall 2018 Commencement Ceremony on December 15. Atwell is the founding CEO of Nicolet National Bank and has 34 years of experience as a Wisconsin banker. A graduate of Beloit College (’80) and the Yale School of Management (’83), Atwell is a frequent speaker on leadership and community banking, as well as ethics, faith and economics.

He is the first regent from Northeast Wisconsin appointed to the Board since Judy Crain served. The following are his remarks:

Good afternoon. It is a privilege to be here today to share in this special celebration. On behalf of my Regent colleagues and UW System President Ray Cross, let me extend a special welcome to all our students and guests joining us for this celebration.

Many people helped these graduates along their journey, providing support in ways both big and small, seen and unseen. From your families and friends — to school teachers and your professors, academic staff members, and so many others who are part of the UW-Green Bay community. Together, they have all had a stake in your reaching this big day, and we thank them.

Today is about celebrating your future. You have put in years of hard work, and the education you have received — and the experience you have gained along the way — are tremendous assets. Your UW-Green Bay professors have worked hard to provide you with the necessary knowledge, skills, and habits you need to achieve success. Perhaps even more than you know, you are prepared for whatever the future may hold.

Today, you are earning more than a degree. We know the vast majority of you will stay right here in Wisconsin to live, work…raise your families. But whether you stay here in the Midwest or venture out around the globe, you are gaining a place in the wonderful and dynamic community of University of Wisconsin alumni. You are taking your place among some of the world’s most capable and respected citizens. You are taking your place among those UW-Green Bay students and graduates that step in and make a difference.

We live in a changing environment, and UW-Green Bay is a university on the move. This University is a key player in the New North, an increasingly diverse and dynamic region of the state, and UW-Green Bay is leading the way in growing and adapting to meet the demands of the community, state and nation it serves.

In my relatively short time on the Board of Regents, it has already become very clear that UW-Green Bay, now a four-campus University with a 16-county footprint, is vital to serving and enriching the lives of its students and their communities. That connection is absolutely essential to the success of our state.

So, as you move the tassels on your mortar boards from right to left, I would like you to keep in mind another role you take on as a graduate of UW-Green Bay.

I also want to challenge you to carry the entrepreneurial spirit of the university into your work, your family and your neighborhood.

I want to remind you that an entrepreneur is not just someone who starts and runs a business. My urban dictionary says an entrepreneur “gets stuff done.” Pay attention to little things and pay attention to people who don’t seem to be powerful and noteworthy. When you deal with people get outside yourself and think about the needs and emotions of others. I promise that this will make you both happier and more impactful. The key to success in work, in family and in life is to help people become better people.

I want to close with a quote from one of the 20th century’s most dynamic and powerful leaders. Teresa of Calcutta went from Albania to India where she founded Missionaries of Charity. Today the 5,700 sisters operate homes in the poorest cities all over the world caring for the sick and the dying. These are profound words of advice she left us:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway…
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway…
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway…
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway…
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway…
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous and full of contempt; be happy anyway…
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway…
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you’ve got anyway…

You see…in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; it was never between you and them anyway.

Graduates, cherish your connection to UW-Green Bay, to Wisconsin, and to your fellow alumni — friends you have made in your time here and those you will meet in the future. These connections are real, they are powerful, and they will stay with you forever.

My fellow Regents, your professors, your Chancellor and everyone who has helped you along your journey could not be more proud of your success.

Congratulations, again, to you and to your families. Go Phoenix!

UW-Green Bay Professor Aldrete to grads: ‘Live with solitude, failure and ignorance’

Since 1995, Professor Gregory Aldrete has been relating the past to the present at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. A professor of Humanistic Studies and History, Aldrete focuses his studies on the Ancient World and what lessons we can learn from history. The following is his address to the UW-Green Bay 2018 Winter graduates.

“This is a day of communion. We are gathered together today in the presence of those closest to us — our friends, our family, our classmates, our teachers. Graduations are one of those few life occasions, like holidays or weddings, when all the most important people in our lives gather together in a single place. However, on this ultimate communal occasion, I would like to advocate for the importance of its opposite — solitude.

We are also gathered together today to celebrate one of the great lifetime achievements that people strive and sacrifice for — earning a university degree. It is no small feat to do what you graduates have done. It will mark you for the rest of your lives as individuals who place great value on knowledge and education. It is both a notable success, and proof that you are capable of further accomplishments. However, on this day of honoring achievement and success, I would like to advocate for the importance of its opposite — failure.

Finally, we are gathered together today to recognize and affirm the knowledge that you have acquired over the course of the last four (or in some cases, perhaps a few more than four) years. We hold the acquisition of this knowledge to be so important that in a few minutes the highlight of this ceremony will be when each of you walks across this stage and is handed a diploma certifying, in writing, for all time, and for all to see, that you have learned a lot of stuff. However, on this day that celebrates the acquisition of knowledge, I would like to advocate for the importance of its opposite — ignorance.

So, I call upon you to value solitude, failure, and ignorance. Why, you are probably asking, would anyone praise these things, especially on a day that seems to celebrate their opposites?

Let’s start with solitude. I would like to suggest that one of the greatest and most useful virtues to possess is self-awareness — having a clear-eyed, objective assessment of one’s values, motives, goals, desires, strengths, and weaknesses. It is knowing who you are, and what you stand for. Quite often this sort of hard-won self-awareness only comes from giving yourself the time and space simply to think, and this often means being alone, and in a distraction-free environment.

Now, I’m a historian, so let me give you a historical example. During the Middle Ages, people had closets, but they were not for the purpose of storing clothing. Instead closets were small rooms into which people went in order to be alone, and they were used to pray and meditate.

Often, they are called prayer closets to distinguish them from the later usage of closets for storage. The idea was that you could not properly and whole-heartedly devote yourself to something as important as contemplating your place in the universe, unless you first isolated yourself from all other people and from all distractions.

Now, I’m not advocating that all of you immediately go home and lock yourself in your bedroom closets for hours at a time like a Medieval hermit, but I might suggest that you do make it a habit to carve out a little time each week to spend in solitary introspection. Turn off your cell phones, clear your minds, and take a walk around the arboretum, or in a park. Just be alone for a little while with yourself and your thoughts.

How about the second value, failure? We like to celebrate and remember our successes, so why should we dwell on our failures? Well, it’s a cliché, but a legitimate one, that failures build character. And often success goes not to the most talented, the smartest, or the most creative, but to the person who is most persistent. The one who does not give up, who is not deterred by adversity, who persists even when everyone tells them not to. And here’s the best part: even if you fail, over and over again, all that matters in the end–all that anyone remembers–is the ultimate success. But you can’t succeed in the end, unless you keep trying.

I once read an article arguing that everyone should maintain a resumé not of their achievements, but of their failures — a comprehensive listing of all the things that they unsuccessfully attempted. All the jobs they applied for that they did not get, and so on. The author argued that such a resumé of failures would actually reveal far more about that person’s character than a list of their successes, and there is probably some truth to this. Persistence, resiliency, and determination, can indeed be some of the most important attributes to possess.

To illustrate how such persistence pays off, I’ll cite another Medieval example, although rather than one from the real world, I refer you to the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (By the way, Monty Python films are always an excellent source of wisdom). There’s a scene where the King of Castle Swamp is telling his son about how he established the empire that his son will inherit.

He says: “I built this kingdom up from nothing. When I started here, all there was was swamp. Other kings said it was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show them! It sank into the swamp. So, I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So, I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up! And that’s what you’re going to get — the strongest castle in these islands!”

For the king and his son, what matters is that Swamp Castle is the best castle, not that it is Swamp Castle number four.

Last, we come to ignorance. How can this be a good thing? Here I want to suggest that rather than being complacent, and congratulating ourselves on how much we know, we should instead always be thirsty for new knowledge and cognizant of how much remains unknown.

The greatest thinker of the ancient world was the philosopher Socrates, who repeatedly stressed that if he possessed any true wisdom, it was that he was aware how much he did not know. Socrates was also famous for his style of teaching. He did not lecture others, but instead his form of instruction consisted exclusively of asking questions. Ignorance can be good when it sparks curiosity. And curiosity begins with the simple act of asking questions.

In connection with asking questions, let me share a final bit of historical trivia. The very first person to write history in the western tradition was the ancient Greek writer Herodotus, and he began his book with this sentence: “These are the histories of Herodotus of Halicarnassus which he writes in the hope of preserving the memory of what human beings have done.” Prior to Herodotus’ usage in this sentence, the word “history” did not mean a record of the past, but instead simply meant “asking questions.”

I have always been very strongly attracted to this original meaning of history as an act of asking questions, and it is one that is applicable in every other academic discipline as well.  No matter what your major is, all of you graduates today, by virtue of earning your degrees, are now professional askers of questions.

So, before this communal gathering of friends and family, I heartily congratulate you on the commendable triumph of earning a university degree. But as we celebrate this achievement, I also urge you to appreciate and harness the power of solitude to gain self-awareness; to remember your failures, and to value how they can bolster your character; and above all, to go out into the world and never, ever, stop asking questions!

Thank you.”


Outstanding UW-Green Bay Student Award recipient Kara Baugrud: ‘I got a degree and so much more’

As an athlete, student, mentor and Christian, Kara Baugrud, the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Student Award, feels her journey at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has helped her develop a love for learning, and a love for leading.

Baugrud will graduate this year with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and a minor in Spanish. An accomplished soccer player, Baugrud received a varsity letter for athletics in Spring 2018, and was class captain of the women’s soccer team during her freshman and sophomore years on the team. While injury sidelined her participation on the team, it did not hinder her from participating in Athletes in Action, a faith-based organization for athletes.

As a leader in Athletes in Action, Baugrud has worked to mentor other athletes in their journey of faith, organizing Bible studies every Wednesday night for women athletes. Baugrud said her involvement in the group has helped her to both grow as a leader and to help others grow as leaders as well.

An exceptional student, Baugrud has consistently earned honors and high honors throughout her academic career. During her time at UW-Green Bay, Baugrud also worked as a student-athlete tutor, and maintained employment at a local Planet Fitness. She used her soccer abilities to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, playing soccer with the children there. At Spring Lake Church, Baugrud served as a volunteer in the nursery.

Baugrud says her time at the University helped her to realize what she wants to accomplish after graduation. Involvement in the Health Science Club and the Advanced Microbiology class motivated her participation with the Tiny Earth initiative — a student-focused crowdsourcing project that seeks to find antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses. Started at Yale University by Jo Handelsman, and further developed by Handelsman at UW-Madison, the Tiny Earth project brings together a network of instructors and students to work in concert with one another to build and maintain a database of information for use by scientists for generations to come.

“Being a part of this nationwide crowdsourcing effort has been exciting and incredibly important,” Baugard says. “The Tiny Earth initiative is a program determined to find new antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses. This program has brought incredible value not only to my experience here at UW-Green Bay, but to my experience as a Human Biology student in the United States. To be a part of such a huge crowdsourcing effort has been rewarding to say the least. I am thrilled to continue on this journey through the rest of the semester.”

Her educational experiences, she says, have helped her to become a lifelong learner and truly value the gift of education.

“When I think about myself as a freshman, I picture a younger woman looking to get good grades and move on to the next thing,” she says. “Now, I have grown to know that this institution grants us so much more than that. I am blessed to have developed a love for learning and a passion for sharing knowledge with others. This is something I hope to carry on to the next adventure in my life, knowing that I received the extraordinary gift from my time here at UW-Green Bay.”

And she says she will value also the treasured relationships she developed with her professors, a gift she says she hopes to share with others.

“One of the most rewarding parts of my educational experience has been all of the relationships I’ve made with many of the faculty. I know without a doubt that I can go to many of these now lifelong friends for advice or just to catch up and talk about things. These professors have enabled me to dive into the material and they have pushed me to become a better learner day by day,” she says. “I am eager to advise anyone who asks that they should keep this University in mind when deciding where to go. My younger brother, in fact, has been looking at schools for a little while now and I’ve taken him around the University just so I could give him concrete examples of all of the classes, places and atmospheres that I love.”