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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumni family has another nearly 1,500 proud members.

Saturday marked the University’s 148th spring commencement, which recognized the accomplishments of some 1,455 undergraduate and graduate students from the Oshkosh, Fox Cities and Fond du Lac campuses in two ceremonies inside Kolf Sports Center. 

The 2022 graduating class included a record 58 students earning doctor of nursing practice degrees. Also conferred Saturday: two doctor of education degrees, 204 master’s degrees, 1,038 bachelor’s degrees and 153 associate degrees.

Here are a few of the many student success stories from the group of new Titan grads:

Special teachers inspired him

Joe Franks of Pulaski said a couple of teachers in his life influenced him to seek a career in education. A fourth grade teacher, in particular, made him realize how a teacher can affect a student’s life. Franks, who has been student teaching in Hortonville, graduates with a major in elementary education and a minor in math. He is applying to schools mostly around the Madison area. He said something he’ll miss at UWO is seeing people out and about, enjoying the first nice days of the season.

Big sister paving the way

Being a leader who helps others comes naturally for a UWO education graduate from Chilton who has three younger brothers. Olivia Breckheimer, first to earn a degree in her family, has landed a job teaching seventh grade science at Einstein Middle School in Appleton and she’ll continue coaching seventh grade girls volleyball at Kaleidoscope Academy, also in Appleton. “I’m feeling great about graduation,” she said, adding that she and her family will celebrate her degree, her job and being a first-generation graduate. Her brother Trent is a UWO sophomore working toward a career as a physical education teacher.

Record number of DNPs

Michelle Hulman is part of the cohort of 58 students earning doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees. The Antigo native finished the three and a half-year program after earning a bachelor’s degree from Upper Iowa University. Now working for Aspirus Hospital Wausau, Hulman plans to stay in the Wausau area.

And now ... sleep!

Shanice Kukuck is another of the record 58 students earning doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees. A native of Jamaica, Kukuck came to the U.S.—and Wisconsin, in particular, where her aunt was living—for better opportunities in education. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Bryant and Stratton College in Wauwatosa and now works as a nurse at Froedtert Hospital. What’s next, now that she’s finished the demanding three and a half-year program? “Sleep!”

A teaching career awaits

Graduating senior Derek Rawlings of Greenville has been teaching students with disabilities in the School District of Shiocton. He is excited and nervous about completing his bachelor’s degree in education and moving on to his adult career. In addition to student teaching, Rawlings has been busy with his job search, seeking opportunities in the area.

No more homework!

After 18 years, nursing major Emma Hermsdorf looks forward to having no assignments due come Monday morning. She has three job offers pending but won’t make a decision until she gets back from a trip to New York with her fiance to celebrate her degree. Upon their return, the couple also will be juggling the chores on their small 30-cow farm in Brandon.

Honor cords galore

Nursing grad Maggie Paff of Rockton, Illinois, was decked out with six cords representing her summa cum laude distinction and her involvement in a number of UWO organizations, such as Men in Nursing and Eta Pi. She chose UWO because of its reputation as a top nursing school and will miss her supportive network of classmates. Next up, she will be working as a cardiac float pool nurse at Beloit Memorial Hospital. 

Ready to solve problems

A busy student earning an associate degree at the Fond du Lac campus will move on to dorm life this fall and continue his studies at the Oshkosh campus. Zachary Holzmann of Fond du Lac said he is interested in actuary science. To provide more career options, he plans to major in finance, with a minor in risk management and actuary science. Holzmann said starting at Fond du Lac made the most financial sense. While there he was involved in student government and worked as a tutor in addition to his job at Target. Even with an internship and other College of Business requirements, he believes he’ll earn his bachelor’s degree in the next two and a half years.

Reading, writing and arithmetic

As a child, Kathleen Endter of Appleton enjoyed school and got a front row view as her father taught in the Appleton Area School District. Endter is following in her dad’s footsteps, earning a bachelor’s degree in education and securing a teaching job with the Appleton district where he still works. Endter student-taught third grade students at Franklin Elementary in Oshkosh, where the class worked on opinion and narrative writing and a math curriculum that included fractions, multiplication and division. “It’s exciting to transition from (UWO) student to my career,” Endter said. In case anyone’s wondering, she won’t be in the same school as her father—their licensures are for different grade levels.

Instill a love of learning

Non-traditional student Amber Buss is earning her associate degree from the Fond du Lac campus and looks forward to continuing her education in fall at the Oshkosh campus. Married and a mom to two young daughters, Buss is working toward degrees in elementary education and special education. She expects to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in spring 2025. “It seems far away, but it’s really not,” she said, adding that she will be excited when the time comes to get in a classroom and begin student teaching.

'Something for myself'

By earning an associate degree from the Fox Cities campus, Kely Carrassquillo is closing one chapter of her life and opening another. In the fall she’ll be on the Oshkosh campus working toward a degree in studio art.

Carrassquillo, who was born in Illinois and lived most of her life in Puerto Rico, is a nontraditional student who enrolled in classes after the death of her father, who she cared for through his later years. “I had never done anything other than take care of my family,” she said. “This is something for myself.”

She helped start the art club on the Fox Cities campus and, with her passion for ceramics her goal is to someday be able to use art to connect members of the community from different generations.

Fox Cities a starting point

After three semesters on the Fox Cities campus, Taehyun Kim is likely headed for UW-Madison to study computer science. A native of Korea, Kim hopes to someday begin a career as a game programmer and getting educated in the United States, he said, helps him move toward that goal. He’s also involved with the computer science and gaming clubs.

“I did not have much knowledge about programming when I was a student in Korea,” he said. “But I didn’t want to be a just coding machine or a tedious worker. So I looked up new universities and I found the Fox Cities campus.”

Read all about it

After changing her major a few times, Breanna Rice of Kewaskum graduates with an English degree. “Through the variety of different classes I took at UWO, I was able to figure out what I was truly passionate about,” she said. “I will miss the Oshkosh campus and all the great people I have met here.” Rice had a semester of school left when she began as a part-time journalist with her hometown newspaper, the Kewaskum Statesman. She was surprised at how much she liked the new experience interviewing, taking photos and writing “meaningful stories that members of my community get to read.” She is planning to continue working for the Statesman, but adds that she is always open to exploring new opportunities.

Thankful for support

Courtney DeYoung (left, with her sister Brooke Peterson) is a social work major from Pardeeville. She faced a number of challenges throughout her college career, including taking a semester off to help care for her grandpa in his remaining days while battling cancer. Next, like many of her classmates, she headed back home when the pandemic hit. This was followed by a semester off and then one in which she took more credits than she thought she could handle. Upon graduation, her persistence pays off as she will begin work as a family service worker with Columbia Count in June. “I am excited to start this next chapter in my life and could not have done it without the support of my family, friends and the professors at UW Oshkosh,” she said.

Cheers to graduation

Besides celebrating her political science degree and law and policy minor this spring, Karoline Sanders, of Brookfield, is proud to close out her 19-year dance career as a member of UWO’s national championship DIII pom team. In August she will take part in the Disney College Program. She also is looking forward to pursuing an MBA in sports business at Marquette University and possibly a law degree after that. In addition, her busy schedule will include planning for a wedding and serving as an assistant coach for her former high school dance team, the Brookfield East Spartanettes.

Mom’s hitting the books

A mother of five will join one of her children studying at the Oshkosh campus this fall. Mary Elizabeth “Beth” Rutherford, of Fond du Lac, decided to begin classes at the Fond du Lac campus and earned an associate degree. Rutherford, who lived with her family in South Africa for 18 years, will pursue a degree in psychology and would like to someday work in counseling. “Embrace the awkward,” is a saying she understands—she’s in a class with one of her son’s friends. “It’s been good. I’m enjoying college. I do feel the more I learn, the more I want to learn.” Rutherford said she’d not intimidated by professors—they’re her age. “I tell students to go ask them questions. They want you to.”

Get out of your comfort zone

Jayvardhan Singh left a stable career in India to pursue a professional master of business administration degree with the College of Business in the midst of a global pandemic. His UWO experience involved serving as a graduate assistant, working on a sustainability project and taking part in International Education Week and Taste of Nations. “Making the decision amid COVID to pursue my higher education was a tough call, but I dared to take the calculated risk and move ahead with this decision,” he said. Next up, starting a new full-time job with ArcBest in Appleton. 

Getting down to business

Mitchell Garvey, a supply chain management major from Freedom, not only was hired before graduation but even started working part time for Maxcess International in Neenah. After earning an associate degree on the Fox Cities campus in 2020, he continued his education at the Oshkosh campus, where he served as president of the Supply Chain Club. 

Going the distance

From the left, UWO cross country teammates Andrew Strasser, a kinesiology major from South Milwaukee; Reid Marquardt, a kinesiology major from Peshtigo; and Mitchell Bradford, a political science major from Oswego, Illinois, ran 8 to 10 miles together daily. Their favorite route was along the Wiouwash Trail that runs through campus along the Fox River. 

Staying in Wisconsin

When Raiden Montero, a native of Gridley, California, was being recruited to wrestle at UWO, it was the University’s Japanese Studies program that sealed the deal. After four years as a wrestler and student, he’s earning a bachelor’s degree in Japanese Studies with a minor in history. The McNair Scholar next heads to UW-Madison for the Asian Language Cultures master’s program. He’s been offered two fellowships to cover the two-year program and other scholarly pursuits. “I plan to study my heritage language, Thai, as well as Thai modern political history,” he said. “My plans are to continue grad school and get Ph.D. so I can become a university professor of modern Thai history.”

Set up for success in Panama

Tomas Alveo (left, with UWO’s alumni relations director Christine Gantner) and Keytlin Alzprua (right) are wrapping up an eight-month stay in Wisconsin to study English as part of the Kings Education international student program. They’ll soon head back to their home country of Panama with new skills learned on the Fox Cities campus. Because English is the No. 2 language in Panama, the students agreed what they learned will be a benefit whether they chose to continue their education or enter the workforce. Alveo said this opportunity to come to America to study “is a dream.”

Rock solid friendship

Geology majors Bridget Zabel, of Fond du Lac (left) and Lizzet Reyes, of New London, both chose UWO because it was close to home. Following graduation, both are ready to explore some new terrain. Reyes has been accepted into the geology master’s degree program at Portland State University, and Zabel is looking for a job in Salt Lake City after falling in love with the area during UWO field camp. 

Titan nurses X 2

Identical twins Kayla (right) and Korrie Herbst, of Park Falls, have more than genetics in common. The two decided in high school they both wanted to be nurses and they wanted to attend UWO because it was known as a top nursing college in Wisconsin. “The nursing program is known to be extremely rigorous, so having a built-in study buddy and best friend has made it so much better,” Korrie said. “We are both very thankful to have experienced our time at UWO together. We are both currently in the job-hunting process and preparing to take the NCLEX.” Kayla adds that their parents are proud to have two nurses in the family. “Our family has been a great support system for us, and we are very grateful for that,” she said.

A future pediatrician

Ruthlie Maceno wraps up a year on the Fox Cities campus with plans of moving on to the Oshkosh campus in the fall. It’ll be a third campus in three years, as the Sherwood native began her college career at Fox Valley Technical College. In the fall she’ll work toward entering UWO’s acclaimed nursing program and then earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which is a step toward her dream of someday becoming a pediatrician. “I know my journey will be difficult,” she said, “but it will be worth it in the end.”