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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh celebrated the accomplishments of about 700 students Saturday at the institution’s 59th midyear commencement. Families and friends of the graduating class gathered inside Kolf Sports Center for the awarding of associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees for those finishing their academic programs at the end of both the summer and fall terms. The new grads join the UW Oshkosh alumni family of more than 100,000.

Here are a few stories from the newest members of UW Oshkosh’s proud alumni family:

Scholarly nurse leader

Elise Little, of Portage, graduates with a nursing major and a Spanish language certificate. She is a 2023 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence recipient for her exceptional record of leadership and service to the UWO community. She is a high-achieving student and an excellent ambassador for the College of Nursing. She loved the Oshkosh campus, forged lasting relationships with classmates and meaningful connections to nursing faculty and staff. She has accepted a position as a registered nurse on the medical oncology floor at ThedaCare-Appleton.

Future K-12 counselor

Mac Augustine aspires to be a K-12 school counselor and the communications studies major approached commencement with an eye on working full-time—possibly at the Boys & Girls Club, where he is interviewing—and applying to graduate school. The Menasha native said he came to UWO because it was close to family and had great support for students. He said he’ll miss his friends and people he grew close to in his classes.

A real rock star

Green Bay native Jeff Krause Jr., a student veteran who is earning his degree after starting his college education years ago, can be described as a true rock star. The geology major is interviewing for jobs in exploration geology, including one in Nevada. Krause exceled in a Utah student field experience and said he likes hands-on geology. He originally was going to be a paleontologist due to intrigue as a child with finding “dinosaur” bones. Krause, who has dyslexia, chose UWO due to its Project Success support of his learning.

Evaluating risk

Josh Zwerg, who has a job secured as a commercial underwriter with Acuity Insurance in Sheboygan, said he’ll miss the clubs he was part of, including the aptly named Titans of Risk insurance club ,as well as the sporting events he attended at UW Oshkosh. The Menasha native said he liked the insurance program at UWO, for which he earned a certificate. He’s happy to learn he’ll be working in a hybrid environment at his new job.

Has degree, will travel

Emma Butzke of Fond du Lac said she plans to take a few weeks to travel the country after she walks across the stage at commencement and finishes holiday celebrations later this month. Depending on her job search needs, Butzke plans to be back home in early February. The marketing major said she is hoping to be hired by a “blue collar” company, possibly in manufacturing, where she can be herself and wear jeans to work. She has certificates in sales and in international business and is looking for a data analyst support role.

Go Bee Amazing

Marketing major Eden Protheroe made the most of her time at UW Oshkosh—she held several campus jobs and had internships in marketing, social media, event planning, human resources and nonprofit fundraising. The founder of the UWO Sustainable Beekeeping Club joins a family full of Titans—her father received his undergraduate and master’s degrees and two brothers received UWO degrees. She’ll work as marketing and education specialist for Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Inc. in Oshkosh, where she worked while a student. “My goal in life is to work for a nonprofit. I get to give back to the community I grew up in.”

Kicking off his next adventure

Rehabilitation science graduate Sam Kiesner is graduating in three and a half years and soon will relocate to Florida, where he’ll begin chiropractic school in March. Kiesner, of Appleton, was a kicker on the UWO football team the past three years. He said he was part of a medical mentoring program in high school and that helped him decide on his UWO major. “It would be great to work in professional sports,” he said of future career possibilities.

He's sold on his new career

Biology major Preston Morgan of Berlin was into his UWO journey with an eye on pharmaceutical or medical sales but changed course with a partner company in his sales leadership class. Instead of helping with medical needs, he has joined Northwestern Mutual, where he will be a financial adviser helping people start investments accounts for retirement or to save for a house. He gives a lot of credit to professor Bryan Lilly and the sales class. “I feel the sales leadership class is helpful to any student because there are so many skills that it teaches you that you are going to use … Also, the number of connections with business professionals who can help you down the road is significant.” Morgan, a former UWO wrestler, earned certificates in sales and in applied ethics to go with his degree.

Honored grad

Jake Vosters, an English education major, earned a medallion for completing the requirements of The Honors College. In 2022, he took part in the short-term, high-impact Honors study-abroad trip to England and Scotland. He is completing his student teaching at Kimberly Area School District.

Accelerated toward the future

Jessika Coley “JC” traveled from Norfolk, Virginia, to walk across the stage as she receives a UWO bachelor of science in nursing degree. “It’s been a crazy travel day (Thursday) but I think it is important for my family to share in my dream and my children to see what their mommy has been doing for the last few years.” JC was part of the accelerated BSN program in hybrid format— on campus, online and in clinicals. JC has been working in a NICU in her community and plans to attend grad school to become a family nurse practitioner.

Engineered for success

UWO Fond du Lac student Dante Santana graduates with an associate of arts and science degree as he looks to continue his education at the UWO main campus, seeking a degree in mechanical engineering technology. Santana enjoyed the small class sizes, the accessibility of professors and his ability to work full-time and live at home while attending the Fond du Lac campus.

A special student-athlete

Jake Parsons earns a bachelor of science degree in education wearing his student-athlete stole that honors his role as a wide receiver on the UWO football team. Parsons, of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, said he came to Oshkosh to play football and prepare for a career in special education at the high school level. He said he’ll miss his football brotherhood and his friends as he seeks a job in Illinois.