Spring graduates pass the baton

Student organizations finish year strong


UW-Whitewater matriculating graduate student Matt Denney, advocacy and event coordinator for the Association for Graduate Students of Color.

Dauntae Green, Lifestyle Editor

Many students from the beginning of every semester or year had the chance to join an organization to help broaden their horizon of leadership skills, socialize, be responsible, and learn new things as a student, as well as an individual. There are changes that students experience personally as they transform into a leader in the end.

Participating in these organizations has have a steep learning curve. There can be a lot of skills that need to be learned, but they eventually become habits and can be harnessed for successful application in academia, but can also be used in future endeavors beyond graduation. In being part of an organization, they change themselves by working and learning responsibility, organizational skills, socialization, and respect. 

“It’s made me more open to others’ ideas and beliefs,” said spring ’21 graduate and PEACE President Ben Bernasek. “We are a social justice type group, but people from all different types of beliefs have claimed it, and I hear lots of different perspectives. I think it’s also made me more responsible just in the fact that I had to run it and take care of all the business on that with leadership.”

UW-Whitewater Spring 2021 Graduate Chamomile Harrison, president of IMPACT.

Many may have been shy and introverted at the start, but decided to take that chance to go out there to do new things like join an organization, and continue to take on more important and challenging roles. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, these students are ready to spread their wings and fly. 

“I’ve just grown a lot since I first joined IMPACT,” said graduating senior and IMPACT president Chamomile Harrison. “Because I was new on campus, I really hadn’t found a community or many friends that I related to – that I clicked with. Then I found IMPACT and I was taken in, welcomed, felt loved. And since joining, that has not gone away. The members and the board – everyone who makes an impact has slowly changed and differed. And my friendship with many of them has grown. I am now getting the chance to bring that love to others and it’s just really kind of passing down the community, and continuing the legacy of love and friendship.” 

Graduates also gained skills from being involved in the organizations they were in that would further push themselves to be great leaders.

“I did gain facilitation skills and how to have genuine conversations,” said matriculating graduate student Matt Denney, who is also the event and advocacy coordinator for the Association for Graduate Students of Color. “Especially in this time of racial upbringing and racial impact, it’s very important to have those discussions about the real world and what it’s actually like out there. I do think that it’s very helpful in that aspect – those facilitation and communication skills. I utilize the skills that I already have, and I put them forward in a more positive manner where I can help others more than myself.” 

UW-Whitewater Spring 2021 Graduate Gabby Pogantsch, SAGE communications director.

The organizations allowed students to take what they learn in textbooks, assignments and exams and apply them to safe, but real-world applications. The knowledge gets applied, put into practice and honed for improvement. Communications director for Students Allied for a Greener Earth (SAGE) Gabby Pogantsch learned many skills that she plans to use in her future career. 

“Time management: between being a student and working for the office, – this was the time that you had to set aside and it was a choice. Social and Communication skills: because I’m really used to talking to people, and in really awkward situations,” said Pogantasch. “I learned that through SAGE overall leadership skills – basically – all of the skills are the baseline of importance for any sort of career that a lot of jobs look for. SAGE gave me a really good baseline of social skills and collaboration.” 

These graduates have gone far to become leaders on campus and future leaders in industry, as well as community.  With the help of organizations to push them to their full potential, they found success through hard work, leadership, socialization, progress and change. In the end, they worked hard, pushed through and learned new abilities that will help them in the future. The sky is the limit for these soaring Warhawks.