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Outstanding Graduates Winter 2016 Commencement

Published: December 16, 2016

Kristin Crowe (Communication) Chancellor's Award

Kristin Crowe is a communication major with minors in psychology, public relations, and organizational communication along with a certificate in conflict analysis and resolution. She earned her degree in three and a half years.Kristin Crowe speaking

Kristin served as vice president of the Gamma Pi chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association honor society. She was a data analysis collaborator for UW-Extension, and a communications assistant for UW-Parkside University Relations.

As Kristin pursued her conflict analysis and resolution certificate, she worked with residents of HALO, a homeless residence in Racine, teaching conflict-resolution skills.

Her public relations and organizational communication concentrations included a practicum where she and fellow students planned and conducted a press conference to announce a new emergency mobile app – ReadyBadger – designed by the UW-Parkside App Factory.

She did interviews with members of the Kenosha creative community to assist UW-Extension with a community-wide strategic planning process. The past four years, Kristin helped organize a team for the JDRF One Walk to raise money for diabetes research, and has served as a youth educator at her church.

Kristin came to Parkside seeking a more valuable experience – something she wasn't convinced she would find here. Turns out, there was more to the story. "Through my UW-Parkside education," she says, "I am prepared for whatever the future brings. My desire to be presented with 'valuable' opportunities has been fulfilled."

Holly Beard (Biological Sciences)

Holly BeardThe list of activities outside the classroom on Holly Beard's resume is extensive and impressive.

Holly served as vice president of Circle K, a Kiwanis-based student organization dedicated to improving the community. Under Holly's leadership, Circle K sponsored a 5K run bringing awareness to postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). She tutored the 300- and 100-level anatomy classes for three semesters and, in her words, "absolutely loved it."

That comes as no surprise to Holly's professors. Dr. Bryan Lewis says her commitment to helping others is especially evident when serving those who have limited resources and ability to help themselves. "Truthfully," Dr. Lewis says, "service to others has simply become a part of who Holly is."

In the past, Holly has volunteered with local organizations that make stuffed animals for children who have suffered a traumatic experience, and another that makes dresses for children in Africa and Guatemala.

Holly was also among a select group of pre-med students selected for the UW School of Medicine and Public Health RUSCH program. RUSCH helps train and educate students interested in treating patients in underserved rural and urban areas of Wisconsin.

All of this while compiling a 3.77 grade point average and graduating in three and a half years. "My experiences with campus organizations and the endless educational opportunities offered at Parkside have been invaluable," Holly says. "I know that I would have never had these remarkable opportunities at another university."

Brian Sockness (Geosciences)

Brian SocknessLong before Brian Sockness set foot on the UW-Parkside campus, he had reservations about pursuing a university degree. Was the promised return on investment genuine? "After reflecting on these doubts," Brian says, "my conviction of a university's value to develop talented individuals couldn't be stronger."

His enthusiastic support of a university education was realized, Brian says, through the "exceptional classroom experiences, research opportunities, and leadership positions I've had at UW-Parkside."

One of Brian's geosciences professors, Dr. Rachel Headley, calls Brian, "easily one of the top students in every class." Working with Dr. Headley, Brian analyzed till samples from Alaska. The research was presented at the American Water Resources Association and Geological Society of America's annual conference.

"The importance of these projects and research is that they not only provided me with knowledge, but they allowed me to discover how to produce knowledge," Brian says.

His academic accomplishments earned him membership in the Sigma Gamma Epsilon Honor Society for Earth Sciences, and annual recognition on the Dean's and Provost's lists.

However, Brian says his greatest personal achievement while attending UW-Parkside was overcoming a cancer diagnosis at the start of his senior year. "I completed my semester's course work while receiving treatment and returned the following semester fully recovered," he says. "Being able to think and work on geology was a productive outlet to cope with this difficult period of my life."

Hannah Yonke (Psychology)

Hannah YonkeLife's road can be full of unexpected twists and curves. Hannah Yonke saw the road after high school leading away from her hometown of Kenosha. That didn't happen and UW-Parkside Psychology Professor Sylvia Beyer is glad it didn't. "In my 25 years at UW-Parkside, Hannah is probably the most academically talented and hard-working student I have ever encountered," Dr. Beyer says.

Hannah's student-professor relationship with Dr. Beyer began with a Social Psychology class in spring 2014. "Hannah's intellect shone through so clearly," Dr. Beyer remembers. "Her class contributions also demonstrated that she was not only exceptionally bright, but also mature beyond her years with a compassion for those less fortunate that is very rare."

Dr. Beyer was so impressed that she invited Hannah to work on a research project. That opportunity, along with others on Hannah's educational road, would highlight her knack for data analysis.

Through experiences such as externships and undergraduate research, Hannah says she was able to learn more about herself: "I found that things I never thought I would enjoy learning about or courses that I had deemed too difficult to attempt actually are fascinating to me.

"The University of Wisconsin-Parkside has afforded me many opportunities to develop valuable skills for everyday life. More importantly, UW-Parkside has given me an education that I will use as a reminder that my personal education does not end when I walk across the graduation stage."

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