Mid-Year Commencement Infuses Needed Talent into Regional Workforce
Green Bay, Wis. – Years of pulling all-nighters, loading up on caffeinated beverages and working diligently to complete group projects will end with the moving of a tassel this weekend for the 434 seniors graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. But the mid-year ritual also brings welcome news for employers in the region, looking to fill high-demand roles in business administration, healthcare, education and more.
Approximately 315 of the 434 eligible students will participate in the Fall 2016 Commencement Ceremonies, slated for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 17 the University’s Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, on campus. Graduates receiving diplomas include Outstanding Student Award Recipient Janae Due, a native of Montello, Wis. and graduating class speaker Vincenzo (Vince) Badalamenti from Bonduel, Wis. Both exemplify the rigor today’s college students undergo as they prepare for future roles in the workplace and how institutions like UW-Green Bay play a role in that training and preparation.
Due, a graduate of Mauston High School, completed an English major and a Women’s and Gender Studies minor in just three and a half years and took advantage of almost every opportunity a student can while in college, including internships, study abroad (South Africa) and student leadership (Black Student Union, Women of Color, and Feminists 4 Action) opportunities and community volunteering, to raise awareness about domestic violence. She plans to begin graduate school in fall of 2017 to study multicultural affairs.
Badalamenti, a Shawano Senior High School graduate, has also packed a lot into his time at UW-Green Bay. He served as both a research assistant and a peer mentor in the Psychology department, presented research projects at psychology industry conferences (a significant accomplishment for an undergraduate student) and volunteered in the Green Bay community as a big brother for Big Brothers Big Sisters program — all while working on and off campus to help fund his college including time as a statistics tutor, an entertainment coordinator for student programming and as a bar manager. Upon graduation, Badalamenti is applying to graduate school for a Ph.D. in clinical and counseling psychology.
“You can literally see our mission at work when you look at the life and campus experiences of these two students,” notes UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller. “They are both from small, rural areas in our region and they chose to attend a university that would support them on their paths to becoming highly engaged, creative problem solvers and community volunteers. Now they are ready to move on and enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of our region. It is a great honor to celebrate their accomplishments and exciting to think about what their futures hold.”
An infusion of skilled talent into the region is needed. Since the Great Recession of 2007-2008, virtually all job growth in the United States has been in jobs requiring a two-year or four-year college degree. Right now, there are 8.1 million more jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree than existed before the recession. In Northeast Wisconsin, the talent gap is even more pronounced, as the region has one of the lowest college attainment levels in the state and the nation.
It also has a low unemployment rate. Currently, unemployment in Brown County is at 3.2 percent (November 2016) while statewide unemployment is at 4.1 percent. “Saturday’s commencement will put a dent in the demand, including new professionals in areas ranging from art and music to business to healthcare and education to science and technology,” Chancellor Miller says. “And commencement in spring will put another dent. But to truly meet the needs of employers in this area, we need more people to pursue two-year and four-year degrees. The success of our region depends on it.”
About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs to 7,000 students. The University transforms lives and communities through exceptional and award-winning teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, and a problem-solving approach to education. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.