Chancellor lauds graduates for persevering during uncertain times

Nearly 1,100 receive diplomas at in-person and virtual ceremonies
Graduates attend one of the four in-person commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 8.
​Jerry Poling | May 10, 2021

Chancellor Katherine Frank congratulated University of Wisconsin-Stout graduates Saturday, May 8, for earning their degrees and for persevering during the challenges of the past 15 months.

In her commencement address, Frank lauded the 1,075 graduates for the distinct experience of navigating “the shifting landscape of a pandemic from its early stages to a moment when we see hope and possibility on the horizon. And this is only one part — albeit a complex part — of your educational journey,” she said.

Katherine Frank
Katherine Frank / UW-Stout photo

“You have encountered an array of challenges and discoveries both during and apart from your classes. You have experienced a changing world and dealt with these changes in all aspects of your life. We believe in each of you, have high hopes for you and are grateful to all of you for the optimism you have instilled in us regarding the future.”

Four in-person ceremonies for the three university colleges and the Graduate School were held at Johnson Fieldhouse beginning at 9 a.m., for graduates only. About 400 graduates chose to attend.

The ceremonies, along with a virtual ceremony, were livestreamed for other graduates, family, friends and guests. To view ceremony recordings, go to the UW-Stout commencement website.

Frank said graduates are prepared, with their education and experiences, to make a difference. “This is a world that needs the passion, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving skills and dedication that you have exhibited during your time at UW-Stout,” she said.

Samantha Ziwicki
Samantha Ziwicki was one of two student commencement speakers. / UW-Stout

Interim provost Glendali Rodriguez hosted the ceremonies, which also featured recorded speeches by two graduates.

Samantha Ziwicki, of Clearwater, Minn., earned a degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism management. She is excited to begin her career.

“UW-Stout has given us the tools to be amazing, presented the doors to life-changing opportunities and shaped us to be the great leaders of tomorrow,” she said.

Ziwicki learned to appreciate differences during her years on campus. “There’s no one type of Stout student. We are all different; I love that! We all come here from different places; we come here for different reasons; we come here at different points of our lives; and we leave here ready to do many different things. But there is one constant — we will all do amazing things.”

Alexa Gravunder
Alexa Gravunder / UW-Stout

Supply chain management graduate Alexa Gravunder, of Wild Rose, explained that she had been coming to UW-Stout to watch athletics events with her family since she was young because her grandfather is an alum.

Enrolling at UW-Stout seemed natural to her, but then she learned the past four years why her grandfather has such fond memories of the school.

“Every professor I met at Stout knows me and remembers me from other classes. I never felt like a number here. I could be my own person, and every professor helped me become a better one. My academic experience has been absolutely incredible,” Gravunder said. “My experiences beyond the classroom have changed me too.

Today, I can say with pride — like my grandpa and thousands of others — that I am a UW-Stout alum.”


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