Public relations major builds confidence, pride at UW-W


photos by Sierra High / Photo Editor

Public Relations major Tyler McNamer will be the commencement speaker for the College of Arts and Communication and Business and Economics ceremony.

Kimberly Wethal, Co Editor-in-Chief

When senior Tyler McNamer transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater at the beginning of his sophomore year, he has had his fill of the small school setting he’d been educated in his whole life.

Following the path of his childhood best friend who was already a student at UW-W, McNamer saw the university as a “half-and-half” in between a large campus and a small school – and more importantly, a place he could call home.

“She loved it here,” McNamer said. “I came to visit the campus, and I fell in love with the campus. I felt this was home when I came here. I instantly knew that this is the school I should have come to at first.”

McNamer transferred from Wisconsin Lutheran College, a liberal arts college in Milwaukee with a population 1/13th the size of UW-W.

McNamer, a Public Relations major with minors in Film Studies and Media Arts and Game Design (MAGD) will be the commencement speaker for the colleges of Arts and Communication and Business and Economics ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 13. The ceremony for the colleges of Letters and Sciences and Education and Professional Studies will be held later that day at 3 p.m. More information on the ceremonies can be found at


Growing as a person

McNamer is a lot more of a “people person” than he thought he was.

He’s discovered this through his involvement on campus as a Warhawk Ambassador and a writer for Double Jump Gaming news, a practicum within the MAGD field of study that allows students to write about trends in the video game industry, that he’s lost the fear of sharing his thoughts and ideas with others, and has become more comfortable with himself in the process.

McNamer has also worked with the Royal Purple as a social media staffer.

“I was given a lot of confidence from the Warhawk Ambassadors in order to go and engage and get my messages and ideas across,” McNamer said.

Attending UW-W opened McNamer’s mind to different cultures and ways of life. Even as one of two minority students in his high school and publicly identifying himself as LGBT at the age of 18, he still says that in a way, his education rooted in smaller schools led for him to be bred in a lack of awareness.

“I wasn’t even comfortable being an LGBT student, just because I wasn’t aware of any of that,” McNamer says. “Coming to Whitewater completely opened my mind to so many new things, and that is something I’m super grateful for … I can now look at things that I looked at when I was younger and see them in a completely different light.”

It was the confidence he’s gained while being at UW-W that allowed him to reach to take opportunities for himself. Now, McNamer is an LGBT Peer Educator who answers questions related to the LGBT community and provides support for students, and works as an intern for Milwaukee PRIDE, a nonprofit organization that works to support the accomplishments of LGBT community members and educate the community as a whole about LGBT culture.

“I was in the closet until I was 18, so to just be able to go talk to people who had questions – because I wasn’t aware of a lot of stuff – and to be able to answer people’s questions was really fulfilling,” McNamer said.


An eccentric personality

Nicole Thompson, McNamer’s co-worker at Spencer’s in Janesville, would agree that he is a people person – “100 percent and then some,” she says.

Connected by their avid movie watching habits, Thompson says work with McNamer is never dull.

“He always has everyone laughing, whether or not he means to,” Thompson said. “He walks in and everyone says, ‘oh, we’re going to have a good time now.’”

Thompson can see how McNamer was selected for commencement speaker, just based off his personality at work.

“I feel like he gives 100 percent to everything that he really wants to do,” she said. “So even though I’m sad because I’m going to be see him going away, I know he’ll be able to do what he wants to do.”

She says she hopes McNamer shows some of that personality during his speech next weekend.

“I feel like a lot of times when you go out and you do something, you have to tone it down a little bit,” Thompson said. “Even though he’s a little eccentric, it works.”


A message of pride

During a Founder’s Day event, McNamer recalls seeing how alumni, some of whom graduated four to five decades prior to himself, had such a strong sense of pride instilled in them.

“What really blew my mind was that [the alumni] graduated in the 60s and the 70s, but they’re still so proud of this school,” McNamer said. “These people really believe in this school and are in love with the fact that they went to this school.”

McNamer hopes to portray a similar message of pride in where you come from – in his case, UW-W, rather than his prior schools – in his upcoming commencement speech.

He also looks to address times of adversity he’s experienced, and how important it is to have a community such as the one at UW-W to fall back on.

“Instead of just saying, ‘I went to Whitewater,’ be proud of that,” McNamer said. “Take charge of that, and know that it’s a part of your life. It helped you. You spent thousands of dollars, so you might as well wear it on your shoulder like a badge.”