Dethlefsen to graduates: “We need you to speak up”
Calling Saturday's commencements celebrations of "the true mission and work of our educational community: student achievement," University of Wisconsin-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford called upon graduates to bring fresh, new ideas to the challenges of today and tomorrow. During ceremonies held at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on campus, nearly 500 students received their diplomas to the cheers of family and friends.
Noting that 63 percent of the graduates in the Class of 2012 were "first generation" students, the first in their immediate family to earn a university degree, Ford said they were ready to succeed in an increasingly diverse and increasingly global business and personal environment.
"Your education at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, was designed to provide you with a keen ability to see particular issues from numerous perspectives, to interact in a society that grows more diverse each day, and to successfully adapt to our changing global community," Ford stated. "When you reflect on your time at UW-Parkside five, 10, even 25 years from now, I won't be a bit surprised if what you remember or appreciate most is how this experience taught you to adapt, to change, and to think critically about a variety of issues from various points of view."
Chancellor Ford's remarks are available on the university web site.
During the programs, graduates heard a keynote address by Wisconsin Poet Laureate Bruce Dethlefsen. As might be expected, the address was filled with poetry but, after welcoming students to the community outside of campus, Dethlefsen offered some surprisingly practical advice.
"It's time now for you graduates to step up and take responsibility. Get a job. Pay taxes. And vote. We need you to speak up. Share your opinion and fight against unfairness and injustice," he said.
The complete text of Bruce Dethlefsen's address is available on the university web site.
During the ceremonies, the university honored four returning graduates for their success and their service. Kenosha businessman Jim Kettinger ('80, Business & Administrative Science, Accounting Specialization), president and CEO of IEA. Inc., and Racine Judge Mark Nielsen ('76, Economics & Political Science) received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards for their professional success. Doctor of Optometry Thomas Lutz ('78, Biology) and mental health advocate Luann Simpson ('85, Psychology) were honored with Distinguished Alumni Service Awards for their volunteer and community work.
UW-Parkside also celebrated the collegiate careers and future successes of eight current graduates. Geography and History major Marcus Bouterse of Kenosha received the Chancellor's Award as the top student in the Class of 2012. Graduates Julia Anders (Geography), Dana Calamia (Economics and Mathematics), Mitchell Hughes (Biological Sciences), Emily Lumley (Biological Sciences), Anne Walaszek (Theatre Arts), Sierra West (Business Management/Marketing) and Stephen Zambo (Economics) also were honored.
During a brief acceptance speech, Bouterse said his university education, completed nearly 15 years after he started, left school, and returned equipped he and his fellow graduates to lead by continuing to learn.
"Our country is completely divided politically, economically, socially, and the list just keeps going on and on. This undoubtedly leaves our generation with the burden to piece this puzzle that is our country back together," Bouterse said. "But I believe our college education has equipped us to do so. If I have learned anything from my studies, it would be that there is always more to learn. And that has liberated me from the closed mindedness that I once entered college with."
Bouterse's speech can be found on the university web site.Both ceremonies were held in the De Simone Gymnasium of the university's Sports and Activities Center.