As words of farewell ring amongst the graduating winter class of 2011, we can’t help but think of how fast time has gone. Remembering back to middle and high school graduation, our lives at 25, 30 or even 58 seemed almost unrealistic. Time, which seemed so slow, passed us by. After all those nights spent studying information we thought we would never use, yet still wishing we could stop time right in its tracks, graduation is finally here.
On Dec. 17, 2011, the University of Wisconsin System Regent Mark Bradley of Wausau will address the 594 graduates, ages 20 to 58, in the Quandt Fieldhouse for the two ceremonies. At 10:00 a.m., a ceremony will be held for the College of Letters and Science and College of Natural Resources, and at 1:00 p.m. a ceremony will be held for the College of Professional Studies and College of Fine Arts and Communication.
Representing the class of 2011, Tealicia Joseph, wildlife ecology major from Crystal Falls, MI, will speak at the 10:00 a.m. ceremony, and Benjamin Hedquist, jazz studies performance and applied strings double bass major from Stevens Point, will speak at the 1:00 p.m. ceremony.
"I look forward to celebrating what my friends and I have accomplished here. It has been a long journey for all of us and it will be great to have the stress of college life lifted off of our shoulders," Hedquist said. "But leaving the faculty and professors will be terribly hard because they have had the most impact on my life thus far and the time and effort they put into my education will never be forgotten."
After years of growing, being challenged and making mistakes, there’s one thing that never changes: you live and you learn. After spending the last few years at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, Hedquist has one final piece of advice to those still making their way through.
"Take advantage of any opportunity that is presented to you, whether it’s about your major or not. You want to grow as much as you can here so really go out of your way to gain good experiences and learn. This has been a big part of my time here and it really has helped me in many ways," Hedquist said.
Erin Kennedy, a Spanish and biochemistry major from DePere, is graduating after four and a half years spent at UWSP.
"My best educational experience here would be working in the Chemistry department. It’s been a wonderful experience for me to get to know myself, and the things I might be doing in my future," Kennedy said.
"I’m really looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life, to grow out of the ‘college’ mindset and start my future," Kennedy said. "But ironically, it’s the thing I dread the most. I welcome change in my life, but it’s difficult when I’ve made UWSP my home for the past four and a half years. It will be hard to move away and to start a career, but it will be something new and exciting to look forward to!"
After spending the past six and a half years at UWSP, Alicia Gaede received her Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Family and Consumer Science and is now graduating with a Master of Science in Human and Community Resources.
"Although I’m going to miss the professors and the connections that I have made while at UWSP, I’m looking forward to moving on to the next step in life and working in the field of Family Life Education," Gaede said.
"Get to know your professors because they are wonderful resources. They already have a great network of mentors and colleagues around the world that they can introduce you to and help you with your future career plans," Gaede said.
As the graduates enter the real world and step into this new phase in their lives, a variety of changes and emotions are expected. Along the way, each graduate’s least favorite question will be asked: "What are you going to do now?"
Somewhere between the job searching, the arranging of living situations and the sorting through the confusion, remember your achievements. You’ve reached a whole new level of independence that is eager to let loose. So wherever your future takes you, let it take you where you dream.