UW-Parkside Grads Encouraged to Find ‘a Meaningful Life Not Centered Around You’

Published: May 11, 2024

S24 Commencement 1The University of Wisconsin-Parkside celebrated the achievements of its graduating class during its Spring 2024 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11.

The event, hosted in the De Simone Arena within the Sports and Activity Center, honored 513 graduates from various disciplines in the College of Business, Economics, and Computing and the College of Arts and Humanities in the morning session. In the afternoon, graduates from the College of Natural and Health Sciences and the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies took the stage to receive their diplomas.

Families, friends, faculty, and staff joined in to celebrate the achievements of the graduates, reflecting on their dedication, perseverance, and growth throughout their academic journey.

S24 Commencement 2This semester’s commencement speaker, Steve Scherer, a distinguished alumnus of UW-Parkside ('10) and the vice president of sales at CCB Technology, shared insights gleaned from his personal and professional journey.

 “The truly meaningful life is not centered around you,” Scherer told the graduates. “When a moment passes, it's gone. Are you paying attention? The people who have the biggest regret in life miss the point -- they thought was all about themselves. Don't live your life for a byproduct. A byproduct is a lesser value than the main things being produced. Money, opportunities, influence, fulfillment, joy, and community are byproducts of a meaningful life. No one drifts into a meaningful life. We need each other to remind us, to encourage us, and to challenge us.”

Among the other highlights of the ceremony were the acknowledgments of seven Outstanding Graduates and one Chancellor’s Award Recipient.

  • Allison Francisco -- Economics & Marketing (Ada, Michigan)
  • Makenzie Kaput -- Secondary Education & History (Plainfield, Illinois)
  • Ria Patel -- Biological Sciences (Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin)
  • Sarah Plutchak -- Biological Sciences (Kenosha, Wisconsin)
  • Elishai Riley -- Political Science (Racine, Wisconsin)
  • Antwaun Sanders -- Master of Business Administration (Brooklyn, New York)
  • Cal Solverson -- Master of Arts in Professional Communication (Iowa City, Iowa)
  • Kalyn Diercks -- Theatre Arts (Port Washington, Wisconsin) (Chancellor’s Award)

Each honoree exemplified the university’s commitment to academic excellence, leadership, and community engagement.

Chancellor’s Award Recipient Kalyn Diercks, an accomplished Theatre Arts major with concentrations in Acting and Design & Technology, addressed her fellow graduates. She acknowledged the challenges faced during the pandemic and encouraged her fellow graduates to embrace their own stories and uncertainties, emphasizing the value of community and the pursuit of passion.

“As I’m sure many of you experienced, starting college amid a global pandemic meant nothing looked quite like we thought it would,” she said “I just had to approach the future with curiosity instead of fear and keep chasing the things that brought me joy. This realization gave me a new fire for making the most of my education.”

In addition, this was the first commencement presided over by UW-Parkside's new Chancellor, Dr. Lynn Akey, who assumed the role in January.

“I offer my heartfelt congratulations as you embark on the next chapter in your journey,” she said. “The knowledge you gained here will serve as your foundation for future success. May your future be built with endless opportunities. Remember: once a Ranger, always a Ranger.”

The ceremonies concluded with receptions in the Petretti Fieldhouse, providing graduates and attendees with opportunities to commemorate the occasion and capture cherished memories through photos.

Grad Stats

  • 513 Total Graduates
  • 394 Undergraduates
  • 114 Master’s Degree Students
  • 48 percent of Undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college
  • 48 percent of Undergraduates started as transfer students
  • Graduates from 19 states outside Wisconsin; and 11 countries outside of the U.S.
  • Undergraduates average 24.8 years old; master’s candidates average age is 32.7 years old
  • The youngest undergraduate completing their degree is 20 years old; the oldest is 63
  • The youngest master’s graduate is 23; the oldest is 68
  • 20 graduates are veterans
  • The undergraduate average GPA is 3.4; master’s graduates is 3.75

Click here to view the full photo gallery!

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