Talk of final grades, the future and post-graduation festivities filled the lower gym at Kolf Sports Center Saturday as more than 1,400 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh graduate and undergraduate students geared up to become graduates.
May 14 marked UW Oshkosh’s 137th Commencement ceremonies. Sounds of cheer, hugs and many flowers and balloons filled the main gymnasium where the ceremonies were held Saturday.
“I think this day is like the end of a chapter,” said Sarah Majors, from behind her cap and gown, who graduated with a major in Spanish.
In the midst of all the excitement, many students said they were glad to be done with the hard work that graduating brings.
“Knowing that you made it is a good feeling,” said Malorie Rivet, who graduated with a major in kinesiology in three and a half years. “You think about all the hard work it took to get here today…next, I’ll be celebrating with friends.”
The 9 a.m. ceremony included students from the College of Letters and Science, Center for New Learning and Graduate Studies. Edward M. Penson, who was chancellor of UW Oshkosh from 1978 to 1989, received an honorary doctorate at the morning ceremony. Graduate Christopher Rogers, a geology major from Berlin, gave the class speech.
Chris Becker, who graduated with a criminal justice degree, said he was very excited about Saturday’s graduation, but did feel a little apprehension about being done with college.
“Getting life started is next,” Becker said. “I’m onto the real world and it’s natural to be nervous about that, I think.”
Commencement was special in multiple ways for Amanda and Nathan Leigh.
The couple met while serving in the U.S. Army Reserves, married and completed two tours of duty in Iraq together. They then pursued and completed their college educations at UW Oshkosh side by side, Amanda graduating with a social work degree and Nathan, a bachelor of arts degree.
“So, we’re nontraditional students ─ we’ll say that,” Amanda said, her family looking on as the couple prepared for Commencement ceremonies.
Commencement is also very special for parents and family members, said Cathy Zerbe, of St. Germain, who came to watch her daughter graduate.
“We’re very proud. These kids work so hard to go to school and it really all pays off in the end,” Zerbe said.
The 2 p.m. ceremony included students from the College of Business, College of Education and Human Services, College of Nursing and Graduate Studies. Jim VandeHei, founder of the nonpartisan media company POLITICO, received an honorary doctorate at the afternoon ceremony. Ann Duginske, a marketing major and journalism minor from Green Bay, gave the class speech.
The Golden Titans – the graduating class of 1961 – led the processional during the afternoon ceremony.
Myra (Hupke) Phillips and Edward Phillips joined dozens of members of the 50th anniversary UW Oshkosh class at the Alumni Office’s UW Oshkosh Golden Titan Reunion and Commencement day lunch.
Graduation day in 1961 was the beginning of a busy week for the couple, who met while attending UW Oshkosh. Three days after the received their degrees, they were married. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in early June.
“We’re residents (of Oshkosh), and we’re happy to see all the construction and wonderful growth on campus,” Myra Phillips said.
Parents, relatives and friends left few open seats in Kolf Sports Center for both Commencement ceremonies May 14.
Sandra Cortez, of Omro, participated in the 2 p.m. ceremony, graduating with a degree in human services and a minor in Spanish. Cortez said she plans on pursuing a master’s degree.
“It feels really fulfilling,” she said, awaiting the afternoon procession’s line up. “It’s a big accomplishment.”
Next up for PaManding Sanneh, of Gambia, West Africa, is a CPA exam.
Sanneh graduated with a degree in accounting and finance from the College of Business.
“I feel like I can finally say I did it after all the homework, all the sleepless nights,” he said, awaiting to enter Kolf Sports Center’s main field house.
Read more about spring 2011 commencement:
- UW Oshkosh commencement website
- Snapshots: May 2011 Commencement
- Keynote speaker: “You are ready!”
- Class speaker to class of 2011: “Stop, realize, appreciate”
- VIDEO: UWO grads get ready ‘backstage’ for spring Commencement
- Keynote speaker: “Make a study of resilient people”
- Class speaker to class of 2011: “You have persevered”
- Thirteen honored with Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence
- Class speakers to focus on perseverance, appreciation
- UW Oshkosh nurse grad’s path follows decade’s headlines
- Graduating senior secures job, looks to the future
- Passion for science drives future teacher
- Innovative leaders to receive honorary doctorates
- Student finds success the second time around