The smiles of 2022 UW-W graduates shined extra bright this year. Not only was it the first in-person spring commencement since 2019, but masks were also lifted on campus just in time for the event. UW-Whitewater hosted its ceremonies Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15 to recognize graduates, as well as alumni from the classes of 2020 and 2021. This year also included a special Celebration of Graduates event in downtown Whitewater. The ceremony for the College of Integrated Studies was then held Tuesday, May 17.
“I have a lot of pride for this school. A college education just means so much to me,” said commencement speaker Michael Carlson. “I think my gratitude for just having the opportunity to pursue a college education combined with the amount of pride and fellowship with all the students here makes me so glad to represent this school in a moment like this.”
The Saturday UW-Whitewater commencement ceremony was split into two sections this year at the Kachel Fieldhouse. The 10 a.m. ceremony honored students from the College of Arts & Communication and the College of Business & Economics. A 3 p.m. ceremony honored students from the College of Education & Professional Studies and the College of Letters & Sciences. Both commencements included undergraduate and graduate students from each college.
Instrumental music education major Dawson Babcock will be speaking at the 10 a.m. ceremony and Carlson, a creative writing major, will speak at 3 p.m. Both went through a months-long process for selection.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for myself. It’s a culmination of opportunities I’ve had that led to this,” said Babcock. “It just seemed natural for me to take something like this on as a challenge. I also thought it would be a really cool honor to use my skillset to help make the commencement ceremony even more special for my fellow graduates.”
There are over 960 nontraditional undergraduate Warhawks at Whitewater, which Carlson is proud to represent. He worked in ecommerce at Harley Davidson for nearly six years in Janesville before starting his current job as a writer, marketer and communications specialist at DiMAX Office Solutions in Milton. He’s thankful for the support that the university has given him throughout his dual journey in academics and the workforce.
“I needed the ability to work full-time in Janesville while attending class in-person,” Carlson said. “The faculty and staff were really understanding of my needs as a nontraditional student and commuter.”
Sunday brought a special graduation ceremony for students who graduated in 2020 or in May/August of 2021, but couldn’t have an in-person commencement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ceremony was held at 10 a.m. in the Kachel Fieldhouse. Additionally that day, there was a special Celebration of Graduates hosted from 12-2 p.m. at Cravath Lakefront Park in Whitewater. Attendees enjoyed arts and crafts, food and beverage vendors, music and games.
“It’s just a big relief to be graduating,” said senior marketing major Andrew Roberts. “I get to go start my career!”