Video: Commencement speaker Georgie ‘Dolly’ Potts uses her storytelling gift to inspire the 2020 Fall/Winter UW-Green Bay graduating class

Note: Georgie “Dolly” Potts was selected from a number of nominations to be this semester’s Commencement Speaker. As COVID-19 postponed the University’s plans to celebrate with the Fall/ Winter 2020 graduates until Spring 2021, Potts’ speech was recorded and is released today, Fall/Winter Commencement Day, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. See her biography.

Video Transcript

Bear Story

Ani, Nazwin nadisnaquas Mishodanikwe-Prairie Band, Totem Kikos.

Hello, my name is Dolly Potts, I introduced myself in my language (Potawatomi). I have been named Student Speaker for the 2020 Fall/Winter graduates. This is quite an honor, for those who do know me, know that I am a storyteller. I am sharing with you a story that I believe will carry with you into your future:

Eagle Clan decided one day to host a lodge. Eagle built an enormous lodge. Plenty of space for all the clans to comfortably sit. Eagle placed cedar boughs along the sides of the lodge for the clans to sit. The smell of cedar filled the air. After completing the lodge Eagle went out into the forest to invite all of the animal clans to his lodge.

On the day of the lodge all the animal clans entered the lodge. Coyote was first in as they would be the clan at the door. Coyote would announce all the other clans. Being Coyote they entered the lodge yipping and yapping nodding to Eagle clan. Sniffing the air, they could not help but smell the cooking fires nearby.

Fish Clan was next quiet and serene. Looking sternly at Coyote clan immediately quieting them with calming nature. Fish Clan reverently sat down in their places.

Hoof Clan was next, they danced into the lodge gracefully. Their wide eyes open and ears perked for any noise to alert the others to. They nodded to Eagle Clan with their long necks.

Bear Clan was last to enter. Huffing and puffing with massive breaths all the other clans scooted a little closer to the lodge wall giving Bear Clan all the space they needed. Bear Clan sat down on the soft cedar boughs and stared at Eagle Clan to begin.

Each clan representative gave Eagle clan a report on their responsibility in the forest. Coyote reported all of the sounds mentioning if any were different or unusual. Fish Clan talked about the waters of the forest how much or how little there was. Hoof Clan talked about the sights and sounds of the forest. If they had seen or heard anything to report to all of the clans.

Bear Clan was last. Bear stood and all of the animal clans fell silent. Bear stood to his massive height from his cedar bough seat. In a voice rumbling from deep in his chest. Bear told the animal clan that he was the leader of all the clans. There was no one stronger than Bear and he had no enemies who could defeat Bear.

All the clans looked up at Bear nodding in agreement. Yet Bear added if there is danger in the forest, come to me and I will protect you. For his testimony all the animal clans loved and respected Bear.

What a great feast it was. Coyote munched noisily on his chicken soup at dinnertime. Hoof Clan savored their maple sugar. Bear Clan gulped and chomped on the most delicious berries. Eagle looked at all of the clans satisfied for they had hosted a good lodge. All the animal clans were happy and safe in the forest.

My story is a story of Power, as we go into our future many of you will have Power. Our college education will afford us positions that are supervisory or as directors. It may lead us down other paths too, like more Education or building our families and communities.

As we go into the world, go in as the Bear—strong, respected, and caring. Be proud as testimony to the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay. Meet your future in a good way.

Thank you.

Video: In fall semester form, faculty and staff and peers from all four campuses congratulate UW-Green Bay graduates

In true, fall semester form, UW-Green Bay faculty and staff from all four campuses, worked together to send this virtual message to UW-Green Bay’s Fall/Winter 2020 Graduates. The campus community hopes to celebrate with you in spring of 2021. Congratulations! You did it!

Class of 2020, it’s been quite a year, but you did it!

Navigated college, completed internships, exams and term papers while juggling jobs, friends, family, and everything else. And You made it!

You also made this University and our community a better place through your contributions, research, and projects.

You grew during your time here at Green Bay to find your way forward to your next challenge.

But what’s most impressive about the Class of 2020 is that you figured it out. Not only how to attend college during a global pandemic, but also endure.

Watching hours of online lectures without falling asleep, becoming a Zoom master, by wearing your mask and keeping it all together, even six feet apart.

You’ve risen above and beyond, and that’s what makes the Phoenix class of 2020:

Unforgettable!

Remarkable!

And admirable.

We want to say thank you in person this May.  

Because, class of 2020, you did it!

University Leadership Awards Virtual Celebration

Congratulations to the recipients of the University Leadership Awards and Chancellor’s Leadership Medallion recipients. You can see the entire celebration, including reflections from campus leaders and highlights of individual winners on the UW-Green Bay Student Life webpage. Watch the celebration.

Fall 2020 Award Recipients

Chancellor’s Leadership Medallion

Libby Courchaine
Faith Klick
Kody Klumb
Kyle Klumb
Rebecca Kuhl
Haley Marks
Makayla Nelson
Dylon Pokorny
Rachel Terry
Emily Wolf

University Leadership Award

Amelia Boylan-Knorr
Patrick Brodhagen
Marina Delbecchi
Vanessa Depies
Katelyn Desrochers
Lindsay Fanning
Alexandria Keiler-Klein
McKennah Matulle
Tatiana Monterrosa
Jesse Rehn
Liesl Sigourney
Kyla Yeadon

Storyteller Dolly Potts will share her journey and advice (virtually) with her graduating peers

Note: Georgie “Dolly” Potts was selected from a number of nominations to be this semester’s Commencement Speaker. As COVID-19 postponed the University’s plans to celebrate with the Fall/ Winter 2020 graduates until Spring 2021, Potts’ speech was recorded and will be released on what was to be 2020 Fall/Winter Commencement, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020 at news.uwgb.edu.

LIFE AS A STORY

Georgie “Dolly” Potts is a firmly grounded person. That includes in this present moment of celebration at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, as well as her past and her future.

As a member of Prairie Band Potawatomi from Kansas and a graduate receiving a bachelor’s of arts in First Nations Studies, Pott’s achievements transcend academics. In her nomination, Mai J. Lo Lee noted, “Dolly is an exemplary UW-Green Bay student because of her love for learning, compassion to listen and her ability to connect life to learning.”

When asked about her “special” ability to connect life with learning, she says simply, “I’m good at telling a story.” Even more remarkable is not just her talent in telling, but retelling stories. “These stories come from my ancestors. We pass them down to our children, to our grandchildren.”

And her journey to today is a story few others could tell.

In just two years, after transferring from College of Menominee Nation, Pott’s stature among students, faculty and the First Nations community on campus has grown through her words of encouragement, empathetic listening and a unique life perspective influenced by Potawatomi traditions.

“We believe in the seven generations. I am in the middle. I learn and listen to my ancestors from the past three generations and I look to the future three generations,” Potts explains. “These stories come from my ancestors. We pass them down to our children, to our grandchildren.” She recognizes this is a concept that doesn’t always fit neatly in a Western worldview. But she adds, “If you talk of the seven generations to a native, they know exactly what you’re talking about.”

These “native” traditions she describes simply as “choosing the way of the earth.” And it’s not just all talk. Potts travels throughout the region to participate in teachings from tribal Elders (a title of respect that also applies to her), from her community and others. She uses these learning experiences, to directly impact the students and colleagues on campus and in the community through teaching, demonstrations and celebrations.

Every question she is asked comes not with just an answer, but also a story—including her name Dolly. “My oldest sister named me Dolly. When I was born, there were 10 years between us, so I was her dolly. Georgie’s after my father.” Addressing her as Koya (Grandma) Dolly is also acceptable—especially considering she has three sons, one daughter, 13 grandchildren and number 14 on the way.

Potts describes herself simply: “I’m a traditional native. I grew up with my ways.” Her “growing up” included life on a Kansas reservation and attendance at a Catholic boarding school in South Dakota. Her love of Wisconsin began in her teenage years, traveling to the Green Bay-area to take part in tribal pow wows. Potts remembers “We would all get together to sing and dance.” The purpose of dancing? “For joy.”

Beyond her naturally fun-loving nature, Potts’ achievements within the University and community have been impactful and transformative. First as an intern in the Education Center for First Nations Studies, where she worked with the local indigenous community. During that time, she arranged for several Elders and knowledge-keepers to present to campus on various topics. Her nomination as Commencement Speaker noted, “As an undergraduate student and tribal Elder, Dolly’s skills and abilities surpass those of many professionals already working in a higher education setting.”

Potts’ activism and community outreach has extended state-wide to Madison, where she shared her research on Act 31—a requirement that all public school districts provide instruction on the history, culture and tribal sovereignty of Wisconsin’s 11 federally-recognized American Indian nations and tribal communities. In true “Koya Dolly” fashion, she met with Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Carolyn Stanford-Taylor and established a “grandma-to-grandma” connection.

But most of all Potts enjoys being herself. “I love who I am. I’m very proud of being native.” Essential to her identity is a tribal oral tradition she explains as “telling stories about our ancestors, or the world around you that helps explain human nature.”

The unique quality of “Koya Dolly’s” power to connect with others is that it comes from her giving nature. She shares that power freely in the form of her stories. Lisa Poupart, director of the First Nations undergraduate and doctoral programs, describes her as a role model for all students and community members. “She embodies the commitment to lifelong learning and service to others,” Poupart said. “We will all benefit from her wisdom and shared words at commencement.”

As for her Commencement Speech, she’s got a story to share and offers this hint: “It’s about a bear and about power. Because many of the students that are graduating will go into positions of power.”

And as for plans beyond graduation?

“I’ll use my education as a pillar to support the foundation of my people.” And for Potts, that foundation stands on a love of learning about the past, present and future.

Her story continues.

Video: Provost Kate Burns reminds students to reflect on your accomplishments this semester

Hi everyone, I’m Kate Burns, the Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs here at UW-Green Bay. I’m here to talk about the end of the semester which is quickly upon us.

I know at the beginning of the semester we are all thinking… How would this happen? How would we engage in a socially distant semester? What would this look like with all of these online classes and hybrid courses? Now we’re almost at the end, we’re finally almost there!

I just want you to take a moment and really think about all you’ve accomplished this semester; how you’ve grown, how you’ve changed, how you’ve pushed yourself in ways that you didn’t think were possible. The good news is that we are so close to the end, so we are counting the moments, we are counting the days.

We might feel a bit overwhelmed at times. I urge you to think about what’s worked well for you this semester and I want to encourage you to reach out if you need help. Talk to your professors. Talk to GBOSS. If you have any questions or concerns we’re here to help you get through.

We’re just going to focus on these moments—these days together. Good luck with all the remaining work that you have to do. We’re here with you and we’re here to help you thrive.

Thank you for all that you’ve done this semester. You should be really proud of all that you’ve accomplished.

We are Phoenix. We are thriving, together.

Photo of the UW-Green Bay Phoenix sculpture with students standing in front making a hand phoenix by interlocking their hands together with the words, "Phoenix Finish Strong by Vince Lowery."

Video: Phoenix Finish Strong by Vince Lowery

UW-Green Bay’s Vince Lowery, director of Student Success and Engagement, inspires students to put their best foot forward as they race to the finish of the semester. Lowery shares a personal story about a cross-country race that taught him the lesson of finishing strong. “When (you’re) in doubt, when (you’re) uncertain… reach out for help, ask for help…reach out to me. As a Phoenix family we will finish strong. Together.”

Video Transcript of Phoenix Finish Strong by Vince Lowery:

This time of year I’m reminded of a story that I always told students when I was in the classroom now that I’m director of Student Success and Engagement. I have the opportunity to bring this story to a much wider audience.

This story is set a long time ago in the year 1994. A high school junior, running cross-country. We made our way to our regional tournament. I’m approaching the one-mile marker and I can hear this voice from the one-mile marker, it’s Coach Larry Smith. You see, I was usually second or third on the team and here I am at a regional event 99th out of a hundredth place. The one person behind me got injured and was walking and Coach Smith is just wondering you know what’s going on. So, he’s shouting are you hurt, are you injured, what’s up? And I’m like no I’m fine, I’m fine.

The reality was I had a terrible start to the race. Worse start ever for me but the thing I understood in that moment was that I could not change the start of the race. I could not go back and re-run the first mile. I couldn’t look back; I could only look ahead. I could only concentrate on the race in front of me left to run. Put one foot in front of the other. Do my best. Kept going. Kept pushing. Kept running hard. Slowly but surely, I moved up in the race.

Now as much as I wish this story ended with the one-shining moment with me crossing the finish line in first, it doesn’t. I finished 16th, which I was really pleased with. It was the best that I could do in that given race, given what happened in the first mile. But I also remember Coach Smith there in the last stretch, cheering me on, right, and here I am with you playing the role of Coach Smith, right, of cheering you on, of encouraging you to keep going.

Your semester is not over just as my race wasn’t over. You still have ground to cover and maybe you weren’t satisfied with how the semester started. Maybe there were some things you missed. Maybe there were some things you stumbled on. We can’t change that. We can’t control that. What you can control is what you put into these last few weeks. Papers, exams, whatever projects you might have coming up, that’s what you can control.

The other thing that you can control is accessing support. Whether that’s peers, faculty, The Learning Center, and advisor, Disability Services, Dean of Students office, MESA, The Pride Center, the places built on this institution to support you. The people committed to playing that role to Coach Larry Smith cheering you on all the way to the finish.

Finish strong. Your semester’s not over.  Your race is not over. And when in doubt, when uncertain, when not sure where to put the next foot, reach out for help, ask for help. Don’t know where to ask for help, reach out to me, I will help you find that place. I will be your Coach Larry Smith. I will cheer you on across that finish line. As a phoenix family, we will finish strong. Together!

Photo of Water Science students wearing waders and standing in the marsh area in the Bay of Green Bay as they study Water Science at UW-Green Bay.

Video: UW-Green Bay Water Studies students have miles of laboratory at four coastal campuses

Who will step up to solve critical water resource issues? Maybe YOU. Study Water Science at UW-Green Bay with miles of coastal laboratory and hands-on research. Get those waders ready!

See more at the Water Science website.

Video Transcript Water Science Program: Water is one of the greatest resource challenges of the 21st century. And there’s nowhere like UW-Green Bay to study Water Science. With miles of laboratory at four coastal campuses, you can pursue your passion and help secure clean water for future generations. Learn water systems above and below the surface. Experience hands-on research in water quality and water quantity issues critical to our region, state and world.

Rise to the challenge at UW-Green Bay.

 

Scholarship honors UW-Green Bay alumna and former State Representative Sharon Metz

Family and friends of former State Representative and UW-Green Bay alumna Sharon Metz (’84, Communication and the Arts), who passed away on June 19, 2020 have created an endowed scholarship in honor of Metz and her husband, Tom.

The Sharon and Thomas Metz Scholarship will benefit undergraduate students who are majoring in First Nations Studies and demonstrate financial need. It will be renewable for up to two years.

Mitch Metz, son of Sharon and Tom, says this scholarship aims to carry on his parents’ fight for recognition and respect for indigenous people.

“We are happy to work through the university to make sure that Mom and Dad have ‘passed the torch’ and are helping shape a new generation of advocates and leaders on tribal issues,” said Mitch Metz.

During her 12 years of service as a legislator from Green Bay, Sharon Metz was instrumental in passing what became the Wisconsin Indian Education Act in 1979. She also laid important groundwork for passage of Act 31 in 1989 and is one of the overlooked heroes in that effort.

Sharon and Tom founded HONOR—Honor Our Neighbors Origins and Rights—in 1990. Their efforts through HONOR organized nationwide support for Native peoples during the height of the treaty rights controversy in Wisconsin. Sharon and Tom rallied strong non-Indian support to stand with the tribes on many issues, including treaty rights, team mascots, religious freedom, gaming, and the protection of burial and sacred sites. Tom worked to make accurate, authentic books and instructional materials available to teachers, students, and community members when such materials were not easily found.

The University is honored, says Chancellor Michael Alexander, to carry on the Metz legacy through this scholarship, which provides critical encouragement and support for students in the First Nations Studies program.

“UW-Green Bay is proud to support students in our First Nations Studies program,” Alexander said. “It is truly a distinctive and important program, and this scholarship support will be an immense help to students interested in the degree.”

The Sharon and Thomas Metz Scholarship will award its first $1,500 scholarship in spring 2021. The endowed fund means the scholarship will support student in the First Nations program in perpetuity.

The community is invited to honor the Metz’s legacy with gifts to the scholarship fund. Gifts may be made online. Checks may be written to the UW-Green Bay Foundation, and mailed to: UW-Green Bay Foundation, 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, WI 54311-7001. Write Sharon and Thomas Metz Scholarship in the memo line of the check. Questions may be directed to University Advancement or 920-465-2074.

–end–

Associate Professor Brain Welsch, right, works with a student on a physics problem during COVID-19 precautions inside the STEM Center's Physics Lab at UW-Green Bay on Nov. 19, 2020.

Photos: Resolute Physics students power through the pandemic

During the pandemic, UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Brian Welsch (Physics), teaches inside the Physics Lab at the Brown County STEM Innovation Center on the Green Bay Campus. Physics students wear facemasks and sit six-feet apart as COVID-19 precautions. Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

Resolute Physics Students Power Through Pandemic

– Photos by William Throndsen Photo/Video Intern, Marketing and University Communication.