Mentorship means a lot

UW-W alumnus Ray Jacobsen to speak at commencement


UW-W Alumnus Ray Jacobsen

Felicity Knabenbauer, Lifestyle Editor

Whether it be wrestling or academics, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is recognized in a variety of different ways. If you look up the university on Google, you will be met with the description of, “known for their business and education fields.” As such, there have been many UW-Whitewater graduates who have gone on to have successful business careers and continue to live their lives today using the knowledge UW-W had endowed upon them.

One such alumni is 1976 graduate Ray Jacobsen, who is this year’s December commencement speaker for the 2021 graduating class. Jacobsen is a very strong believer in mentorship and has this view due to being mentored himself while studying here at UW-W. His mentor at the time was a wrestling coach named Willie Myers, who would eventually join the UW-Whitewater Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. Myers provided Jacobsen with a tremendous amount of thought-provoking guidance that anyone would want to use to live their life in an ethical and moral way.

“You can say he virtually changed the trajectory of my life in a very positive way. He was an incredible human being who we lost about a year ago. He was really the one singular person who was the most impactful in my relationship with UW-Whitewater,” said Jacobsen.

Although there are a variety of different people the university could have asked to be a speaker, there is no doubt as to why Jacobsen was chosen after looking at his professional accomplishments throughout the past 45 years. Although it took a little time after graduate school, Jacobsen had a goal to work in the private sector of business long-term. Jacobsen was fortunate enough to work as a CEO in his 30’s and over a period of years found himself running several different companies as either the CEO or president. He joined the UW-Whitewater Foundation Board of Directors in the 90’s and was asked to rejoin the foundation three years ago. For the last seventeen years Jacobsen has been working as a business consultant for an international company.

“I am very actively involved in athletics at Whitewater and I think that more than anything, I am engaged as a person and have given my time as a resource to spend with people at Whitewater. The greatest resource we have is our own time,” he said.

For Jacobsen, deciding to become a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater all those years ago was of little difficulty for him. The time he was searching for a college to attend was a tumultuous one, as many universities across the country were dealing with violence sparked by protests of the Vietnam War. Growing up in Fort Atkinson, Jacobsen knew by visiting Whitewater how peaceful it was in the 60’s along with the community that made it so.

“People were kind, generous, and helpful. That’s what really attracted me to coming to Whitewater,” said Jacobsen. “Going from a medium sized town to another medium sized town that all around looked to be an attractive environment – and it continues to be the same today. Virtually, whenever I come back, some 45 years later, it still has that same friendly atmosphere, the same sharing environment where people are generous with their time and very community and family oriented.”

On the 18th of December Jacobsen will be speaking at the commencement ceremony that begins at 10 a.m. in Kachel Fieldhouse at the Williams Center. He plans to talk about his mentorship with Myers and how leadership can guide the graduates’ personal and professional lives in the future.

“I’ll be giving advice I see relevant today,” said Jacobsen. “Give them some food for thought about their careers, about where they are headed and the opportunities they have while at the crest of the situation we are in with the Coronavirus.”

To learn more about the December 2021 Commencement visit