Alumnus and member of UW-Green Bay’s Council of Trustees, Cordero Barkley welcomed the Cofrin School of Business and College of Science, Engineering and Technology graduates and families to 2022 Spring/Summer Commencement, and spoke about his journey to and through college and his current career. His speech follows:
“Good afternoon! It’s truly an honor to join you and all the graduates for this special occasion. I’m Cordero Barkley, a partner at TitletownTech, Vice Chair of the Council of Trustees and UWGB alum. On behalf of the Council of Trustees, congratulations on this huge accomplishment!
As I’ve matured, I’ve come to value the quality of the education we received from the talented faculty and staff. Hopefully, you have learned from each other and have gained skills that will serve you well into your future.
My path to UW-Green Bay was not traditional, and as a first-generation college student moving from Racine, WI, and stepping onto campus, I had no idea where my journey would lead me. Like many of you, I had to figure it out.
But once I got to campus, I began to thrive in the curated nature of the small class environment, the community environment in the dorms, and taking the time to learn more about my peers and their journeys to college gave me solace. I realized we were all on the same path, just running different races.
My life as a student-athlete created a built-in buffer of extended family, but when I look back on my time here, I often reflect on the time spent in the Union with students from all walks of life, the perspective changing conversations walking to class in the tunnels, or the times when I needed to clear my head after a tough final exam and I would find peace on the trails.
Other times, my experience was centered around speaking up and pushing campus leadership on diversity and inclusion efforts that would benefit all students on campus. A mission I still champion today as the Chair of the Social Justice Committee.
As I chose a degree path, I recall the countless meetings with Amy Van Oss in academic advising, who helped me ensure my academic path was secure and ahead of schedule. She also helped me plan for beginning the master’s program, which had been recently established.
I vividly remember the fear of graduating during the great recession, only to have those fears quelled by Linda Peacock-Landrum and the Career Services team, who worked tirelessly to ensure all the students had multiple opportunities during one of those times of great uncertainty.
And I can’t forget Professor Don McCartney calling me out and saying “Cordero you need to get back to campus and finish what you started”! Imploring me to finish my Masters degree, which I did in 2016.
I look at where I am now as a Partner at TitletownTech a Venture Capital firm, formed out of a partnership between the Packers and Microsoft, and located in the shadows of the iconic Lambeau Field; if it wasn’t for relentless staff members like them, and alumni like Craig Dickman, who has been a driving force of alum finding talent in other alum, this kid from Racine probably would not be here speaking to you today.
This campus is evolving, and you are soon to be part of an enduring legacy. Great minds expand ideas into action. You are proof that a campus’ ability to meet students where they are in their journeys is an important tenant of the University’s mission.
As I close, you are venturing into your next journey, define what success looks like for you, or others will try to define it for you. And regardless of the stage, know your journey has prepared you for anything you will face. You are a Phoenix and you have grown the family.
Continue to Rise! Go Phoenix!”