Chancellor congratulates 560 graduates on their perseverance, vision, success

Three ceremonies include speeches from four graduates
Graduates received diplomas in three ceremonies at Johnson Fieldhouse. / UW-Stout
​Jerry Poling | December 17, 2021

Three commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 18, at University of Wisconsin-Stout celebrated the success of 560 graduates who persevered through years of schooling and a pandemic to earn their degrees.

Chancellor Katherine Frank, in her address at Johnson Fieldhouse, drew a historic parallel between graduates and the university’s visionary founder, James Huff Stout. In 1897 a fire destroyed the school, and classes continued at temporary locations for more than a year until it could be rebuilt, resulting in what today is known as Bowman Hall.

Like the obstacles James Huff Stout faced in rebuilding, graduates had to persevere through a challenging time in history and needed to remain focused on the future.

Chancellor Katherine Frank greets a graduate while handing him his diploma.
Chancellor Katherine Frank congratulates a graduate. / UW-Stout

“Therefore, for me, every time the bells ring in Bowman Hall’s Clock Tower (and they rung out in a celebratory peal for all of you graduates today), I am reminded of the vision, hope, drive, perseverance, and the actions of those who have come before us and all those who surround me in this room or who are viewing the ceremony virtually today,” Frank said.

Frank cited a dozen examples of inspiring graduates — traditional and nontraditional, first-generation and those facing personal challenges — in her three speeches. They have exhibited determination and other qualities similar to James Huff Stout, whose school now has more than 70,000 alumni making a difference in the world.

“These stories amaze and inspire me. They feature hard work, dedication, tenacity, focus, courage, generosity, and gratitude. They give me great hope for your many achievements and contributions yet to come,” she said.

“This is a world that needs the passion, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and dedication that you have exhibited during your time with UW-Stout,” Frank said.

She congratulated them on their “tremendous achievement” and encouraged them to show their gratitude toward those who helped them achieve their dream.
 

Happy graduates hugged and celebrated before, during and after the ceremonies.
Hugs were plentiful before, during and after the ceremonies. / UW-Stout

“Take a moment to reflect on the relationships that have been important to you throughout your UW-Stout journey and shaped your story. All of these people are part of your story, and their support and belief in you have helped shape your future.”

Frank also thanked them “for all that you have contributed to UW-Stout and our extended communities through your commitment, enthusiasm, and hard work.”

Ceremonies were held at 10 a.m. for the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management; 1 p.m. for the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences and for the College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences; and 4 p.m. for the Graduate School.

They were the first commencement ceremonies to include guests since December 2019, before the pandemic began. Guests were limited to four per graduate, seated in pods of four, and masks were required.

The ceremonies also could be seen via livestream on the UW-Stout commencement website and at the Memorial Student Center.
 

A graduate celebrates receiving his diploma after years of hard work.
A graduate celebrates the culmination of years of hard work. / UW-Stout

Graduates address classmates

Along with the chancellor’s address, each ceremony include remarks from graduates, one from each college and one from the Graduate School.

In the CSTEMM ceremony, Taiyah Tarter, of Edgar, graphic communications major, encouraged graduates to advocate for themselves and keep moving ahead. “If you are unhappy, change something. If something is hard, learn about it. Grow and progress yourself. It is how you will make the most of your life. So long as you push, tomorrow will come.”

In the CEHHS and CACHSS ceremony, Sophie Bernstorf, of Northfield, Minn., graphic design and interactive media, told graduates to move ahead with confidence despite the pandemic.

“Things are uncertain. Things are unfamiliar. But you know what isn’t? The skills you have, the knowledge you have learned, the connections you had made; your talents and passions are not in limbo. They are to be used right now and with great confidence,” Bernstorf said.

In the same ceremony, Elsbeth Bandli, of Sun Prairie, art education, asked her classmates to consider the university’s Stout Proud slogan. “On this day and all days to come, I encourage you to consider how UW-Stout will be proud of you. How will you reflect on your time at UW-Stout and grow as an individual and as a proud alumni of this university?”

In the Graduate School ceremony, Kylie Anderson, of Somerset, master’s in school counseling, also reflected on persevering during the pandemic. “You are sitting here because of your resiliency and dedication to your education.

“Even when life gets hard, we can be resilient, just as we have done during our graduate programs. I am excited to see how we individually and collectively apply this message to our journeys beyond this moment,” Anderson said.

Provost Glendali Rodriguez presided over the ceremonies, which included music by the UW-Stout Symphonic Band and the Jazz Orchestra, directed by Aaron Durst; and the Chamber Choir and the Symphonic Singers, directed by Jerry Hui.

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