Each of the nearly 400 graduates at UW-Green Bay’s mid-year Commencement has a story.
“It was a wonderful experience,” said Kam Dama, an Education graduate.
Some are the first in their family to graduate from college.
“I don’t think it quite set in yet,” Shawn Baumgardt, a Business Administration graduate said. “I’m the first in my family to graduate from college so it’s pretty exciting.”
Some found friends that will last a lifetime.
“I pretty much had the greatest time of my life, said Kyle Eberle, a graduate of Public Administration, Political Science and Environmental Policy and Planning. “I was a Division I athlete all four years and that definitely impacted me and how I’m going to go into the future. The professors were great. I have the best friends. I’m never going to lose, hopefully.”
Some, like David Trost, finally found what was more than 40 years in the making.
“If anybody is thinking about going back to school I highly recommend it. Don’t think about it. Just do it,” he said.
Trost began his college career at UW-Stevens Point in 1965.
“When I got laid off when the economy went in the tank in December of 2008, I went looking for a job and if I went for entry level I was over-qualified. If I went for positions like I’ve had I didn’t have a four-year degree. Because I didn’t have a four-year degree they wouldn’t hire me,” he said.
Trost received his Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in business through UW-Green Bay’s Adult Degree Program.
One common thread among graduates: They say it’s the people they met along the way that made the difference.
“The teachers have been great. The students that I’ve worked with in the Adult Degree Program have just been amazing. I’ve learned so much,” said Interdisciplinary Studies graduate Carol Degrand.
“The people and the staff that I’ve gotten to work with whether it be in Residence Life or the Education Department or that Spanish program, they’ve all been so supportive in helping me develop into the educator and the person that I am now,” said Kari Kropp, an Education major who also received the Outstanding Student Award from the UW-Green Bay Alumni Association.
Today’s graduates also have some advice for tomorrow’s grads.
“Take a deep breath,” said Amii John, an Art graduate who was the Class Speker. “Not everything is as serious as it’s gong to seem immediately. And this is supposed to be fun. This isn’t supposed to be an arduous journey in education. It’s supposed to be fun.”
“Try really hard your freshman year because that’s what killed me. My freshman year was just really hard. After that it just gets better,” Baumgardt said.
“Really enjoy every moment that you have on campus because three, four or five years goes by very fast,” Kropp added.