UW-Green Bay bade farewell to a record mid-year class Saturday, Dec. 13, when more than 330 students (of more than 500 total graduates) took part in December commencement ceremonies at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. From lighthearted worries about traversing the stage in heels to genuine feelings of excitement and nostalgia, our grads and commencement speaker shared their thoughts about the big day.
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“It’s really exciting and scary,” said graduating senior Ashley Smar, “and just a whole bunch of emotions.”
Her Education classmate, Small Moua, agreed.
“I feel the same way,” Moua said in a pre-ceremony interview. “I think the main part right now is not tripping on stage. That’s kind of what I’m thinking about.”
Quipped Smar: “Especially in heels.”
In a nearby room, soon-to-be alumnus Ryan Wehse reflected on his time at UW-Green Bay.
“I’m really excited to graduate,” said Wehse, who was graduating with a degree in Biology. “This has been a great University. My time just went really fast and I’ve learned a lot, met a lot of cool people.”
Graduate student Stephanie Suchecki had even more upon which to reflect, having completed both her bachelor’s and now her master’s degree at UW-Green Bay.
“It feels bittersweet because I’m going to miss UWGB,” Suchecki said. “I’ve been here for like 7-and-a-half years, I want to say. I worked here while I was in graduate school, I’ve roomed here all seven years of school that I’ve been here, and made amazing friends along the way.”
For commencement speaker and UW-Green Bay alumnus Cristina Danforth ’88, addressing the class of 2014 was a tremendous opportunity.
“I‘m excited. It’s historic in the sense that I graduated from here and we have a lot of students from Oneida graduating today,” said Danforth, chairwoman of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. “So it’s special to me to be able to represent my tribe and the student body of the University. And so I’m really honored to be here and I’m very excited.”
Also excited was Adult Degree Program grad Cheryl Juen, who celebrated six cancer-free years just days before Saturday’s commencement.
“I knew from the minute I started, I was going to walk today — that’s why you do it,” Juen said, her voice thick with emotion. “You do it because you’re proud of yourself. So yeah, it means a lot.”
Music grad Erin Sunisa was among those who said they’re ready for what’s next.
“I’m nervous, to be quite honest, but I’m really excited,” Sunisa said. “I’m really excited to get on, move on to different things, start my career and get out in the real world — and kick butt at it, I guess.”