Collective Phoenix soars to Commencement

More than 900 students graduate on Green Bay Campus, Saturday, May 18

GREEN BAY — They are nurses, veterans and entrepreneurs. More than half are the first in their family to graduate from college. Many have jobs before graduation and some will even graduate debt free. Eighty (80) are perfect—4.0 GPA perfect. The majority will receive bachelor’s degrees and all 936 students who have applied to graduate at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (Green Bay Campus), on May 18, 2019 are prepared to soar on their own after years of study, internship, work and research. The ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Kress Events Center.

Commencement Live Stream Video

This is only the beginning of the story for this year’s graduating class. Each class is unique, and like the Phoenix they embody, is a reinvention of the class before. Here are the distinct stories that make the UW-Green Bay Spring Class of 2019 stand out:

After Five Different Colleges, Student Speaker Finds Success in Her Own Backyard

Success comes at your own pace. Yuntlekalau (pronounced You dlay ga lau) McLester, graduating class speaker, knows this well. Mother and mentor, McLester forged a path toward earning her degree that was not fast nor easy. UW-Green Bay is the fifth and final college she’s attended on her path to completing an undergraduate degree. Originally from Oneida, Wis., McLester is of the Wolf Clan. She graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in First Nations Studies, a minor in Environmental Science and a certification from the Environmental Management and Business Institute. Upon graduation, McLester will be applying her education at the Oneida Cultural Heritage department as a language and culture trainee. She was recruited by the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin to serve as an Indigenous language apprentice, where she will be applying for acceptance into an adult immersion program in Ontario.

Giving Back on the Rise for College Students

Taylor Gulbrand (Psychology and Human Development) experienced the heartbreak of losing her mother while a freshman at UW-Green Bay. But that loss wasn’t lost. As soon as Taylor heard about Camp Lloyd, a UW-Green Bay grief camp for kids, she asked where she could sign up, and served as a head buddy last summer — one of the most impactful and healing experiences of her life. Gulbrand is one of a growing number of college students who incorporate both hands-on learning and volunteering into their college and ensuing life journeys.

Like Father, Like Son

Father and son, Thomas and Ryan Ritchie, from Sheboygan, will both graduate on Saturday. Thomas will receive his Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree and Ryan will receive his undergraduate degree in Business Administration.

Serious Student Research, Serious Student Transformation

Shayla Warren studies the long-term neural impact of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). It’s a massive undertaking for an undergraduate student that could have significant implications on everything from youth sports to accidents on the playground. What made it even more interesting, though, is the journey Shayla’s taken from a relatively shy, first-generation college student from a small town in northern (Ashland, Wis.) Wisconsin to a confident soon-to-be psychology graduate with doctoral aspirations.

Mortarboards and Marriage Vows

For graduates Hannah Mauk and Garriet Kanis, the Phoenix proved to be a lovebird. The couple found its way to UW-Green Bay via hometowns, Plymouth and Viroqua. The two met by chance as freshmen, began dating, and never parted. They will graduate together on Saturday, May 18 before marrying this summer. Both are business majors (often competing for the best grades) and each is employed before graduating — Mauk as a financial accountant at Schreiber Foods and Kanis as a broker at Schneider.

Employer Trend of Hiring Students Before Graduation Continues

As employers in every business sector continue to compete for talent, many UW-Green Bay graduates are already working or interning in jobs they will transition into following graduation. Social workers in particular are in high demand as Northeast Wisconsin continues to search for ways to address high numbers of mental health and addiction issues. Two graduates are joining the local resource to address these important issues: Katey Heiser was hired following her internship at Howe Family Resource Center in Green Bay while Micayla Fritsch has been hired at the Violence Intervention Project in Algoma.

International Business Leader to Share Advice with Graduates

Jan Allman, president, CEO and general manager of Fincantieri Marinette Marine is the Green Bay Campus Commencement speaker. Since 2014, Allman has led the world-class shipbuilding company located along the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisconsin. With a 30-year career as a global operations and engineering leader, Allman will share with the graduating class the experiences and values that have guided her success, as well as her personal advice for students as they embark on their next adventures.

The Class of 2019 by the Numbers

  • 787, or 84% of students are receiving a bachelor’s degree
  • 141, or 15% of graduates are receiving a master’s degree, including eight students from the KEDGE Business School (Bordeaux, France)
  • 38 graduates are in active duty and 151 students are spouse/child of military veteran
  • 80 students are graduating with a 4.0 GPA (50 graduate, 30 undergraduate)
  • 23 entered UW-Green Bay through the Phuture Phoenix program
  • 57 percent are first generation students
  • 70 percent are female, 30 percent are male
  • 27 years is the average age of undergraduate students (trending high because the average age of the 57 undergraduate Nursing students is 37)
  • 33 is the average age of the graduating graduate students
  • 23 states are represented by the graduating cohort: Wisconsin (787), followed by Illinois (20) and Michigan (20)
  • 65 Green Bay Area Public School graduates (Preble 22, Southwest 17, West 13, East 12, and John Dewey 1)
  • Top high schools outside of Green Bay Area Public Schools (Bay Port 22, Ashwaubenon 17)
  • Top three graduate degrees –Master of Science Social Work (55 graduates), Master of Science Nursing (20), Master of Science Teaching & Learning (17).
  • As it has been for years, Business Administration (141) is the program with the most undergraduate majors, followed by Psychology & Human Development (90), and Human Biology, Nursing, and Organizational Leadership with more than 50 graduates.

About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs to nearly 8,000 students with campus locations in Green Bay, Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. Established in 1965 on the border of Green Bay, the University and its campuses are centers of cultural enrichment, innovation and learning. The Green Bay campus is home to one of the Midwest’s most prolific performing arts centers, a nationally recognized 4,000-seat student recreation center, an award-winning nine-hole golf course and a five-mile recreational trail and arboretum, which is free and open to the public. This four-campus University transforms lives and communities through student-focused teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, powerful connections and a problem-solving approach to education. UW-Green Bay’s main campus is centrally located, close to both the Door County resort area and the dynamic economies of Northeast Wisconsin, the Fox Valley region and the I-43 corridor. UW-Green Bay offers in-demand programs in science, engineering and technology; business; health, education and social welfare; and arts, humanities and social sciences. For more information, visit


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