Outstanding student shares secret: Always ask ‘Why?’

Tonya Filz, graduating class speakerGraduating senior Tonya Filz of Appleton spoke on behalf of her class at UW-Green Bay’s mid-year commencement Dec. 17 at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

The psychology major was also the recipient of the Outstanding Student Award presented by the UW-Green Bay Alumni Association.

During her brief remarks, she thanked her family, and also credited her professors at UW-Green Bay for going above and beyond in helping students.

She admitted, however, to being something of a pest to her teachers, always asking “why?” and accepting little at face value. “Don’t be a passive consumer of knowledge,” she said, advising current and future students to never be afraid of posing questions or seeking direction on desired learning outcomes.

Over the course of her undergraduate career at UW-Green Bay, Filz was chosen to serve as a research assistant and work side-by-side with UW-Green Bay faculty members on projects investigating diverse topics such as anger and aggression, student perceptions of undergraduate teaching assistants, and civil discussion of controversial issues.

On this latter topic, Filz is co-author with Prof. Kristin Vespia of a chapter scheduled for inclusion in a new book to be published by the American Psychological Association on best practices in teaching psychology. The chapter is “When controversies lead to controversy: Preventing and handling classroom disruptions.”

Filz confided to her audience of 2,000 that she realizes few will remember her graduation day remarks, but that’s OK. With all the excitement she’s not sure she will, either.

“My amygdala is having its own little party right now,” the Human Development student said, using brain-science terminology to describe her emotions. “I’m pretty sure it’s interfering with my hippocampus (ability to remember).”

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