Among many wonderful days of the year for the UW-Green Bay community, it was even more special today (Dec. 18, 2021) as the University awarded degrees in (socially distanced), in-person Commencement ceremonies for the first time since December 2019. The University’s 104th graduating class, comprised of 512 students from all four campuses (Green Bay, Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan), received diplomas at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on the Green Bay Campus.
Saturday’s ceremony also marked the first time in University history that UW-Green Bay held two ceremonies to accommodate the school’s growth. (Two ceremonies were held in the Weidner Center in May of 2005 after rain and chilly temperatures forced the planned outdoor ceremony to be held indoors, and expanded to two ceremonies).
Guest speakers congratulated students on their accomplishments during the global pandemic and challenged them to see this as their moment to rise. “Opportunities often come from disasters, conflict, disease, disappointments and heartbreak, shared UW-Board of Regent Cris Peterson. “Rise from the setbacks and look your magnificent future square in the eye. Pay attention. Surprise yourself. There is so much to do. Rise like the Phoenix and make this the beginning you’ve dreamed of.”
Commencement Speaker and Brown County Executive Troy Strekenbach echoed Peterson’s comments. “For many of you, the path to this commencement has not been an easy one,” he acknowledged. “UW-Green Bay and Brown County will continue to create the opportunity for future generations to excel and grow – but we can only provide the infrastructure and opportunity. It’s incumbent upon young people like yourselves to take the ball and run with it.”
Student speaker Kimberly Davis ’21, a double major graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a BFA in Applied Arts, framed her comments to graduates using storytelling techniques. “We have all experienced challenges on our own—through failed courses, mental health struggles, the loss of loved ones. And together—through social injustice, the pandemic, fear of the unknown. We have and are still facing the unforeseen with hopes of coming out on the other side. And even if it seems that the challenges are relentless, just know that it will always get better as a conflict always has its eventual resolution.”
“A resolution is something that we are still working on as we all sit here together today. Something that we will work on after we walk through those exit doors. The story we have been crafting is far from over… The future has yet to be written. We all hold a pen. So let’s get writing.”
During the ceremonies, UW-Green Bay retiree Daniel Spielmann received the Chancellor’s Award, the highest award bestowed on a community member by the University. “(Over 36 years), Dan has held more leadership roles than anyone else in UW-Green Bay’s history. He has a heart for the next generation. I can’t imagine anyone more deserving of this award and am proud to bestow the first Chancellor’s Award of my tenure to Dan Spielmann,” Chancellor Mike Alexander shared.
Class of 2021: You’ve persevered and achieved great things during a most challenging time, rising through it all. May it just be the beginning.
Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.
– Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication