By Mark A. Mone
Chancellor University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee hosted its 117th graduation ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 17. This is where we hear some of the most inspiring and diverse stories of the year – some from our backyard and others half a world away.
UWM enrolls students from 91 countries, and more than a third of our students are people of color. We are the most diverse campus in the UW System. This is not only one of our greatest strengths, but also a unique and valuable benefit to our students.
More than 2,200 students walked across the commencement stage at the UWM Panther Arena on Sunday. About 300 of those students were eligible to participate in our Honors Convocation earlier in the month because they maintained a 3.5 grade point average the entire time they were at UWM. Combine these students with all others who graduated earlier in the year, and more than 5,500 students earned their degrees from UWM in 2017.
Even more remarkable than the number of graduates are the personal journeys of our students. I’ll share just a few of the many stories from our December graduating class.
Ameena Yusuf, who grew up in Nigeria, suffered the loss of her father while working on her bachelor’s degree in global studies security. With the help of supportive professors and her involvement with the Black Student Union, Muslim Student Association, Student Senate and an internship with U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, Ameena made it through a difficult time. She completed two internships abroad, including one in Nigeria, and said that, “UWM gave me my own voice.” She hopes to work with the United Nations after attending graduate school.
Sam Gardner’s journey took him all the way from being home-schooled in high school to Antarctica as a college engineering student. He has done research on particle physics and worked on software engineering for neutron monitors, which took him to Antarctica to implement his new design. The Department of Defense offered Sam a full-time job after he spent two summers interning with them. He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and graduated with honors this month.
As the first person in her family to go to college, Sydney Rein quickly learned to take advantage of opportunities to overcome the financial and academic challenges she faced as a student. Sydney started work as a resident assistant in our Nursing Living Learning Community and thrived. She used her experiences to get jobs at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, first as a health unit coordinator and then as a nurse extern. Aurora offered her a full-time position, and Sydney begins her registered nurse position after graduation.
Ameena, Sam and Sydney are just a few examples of the diverse and inspiring individuals who graduate from UWM and go on to positively impact others in our world. They are the faces of the future that show just how powerful higher education can be. Advertorial