The scene told many stories as roughly 350 Moraine Park Technical College students walked up to the commencement stage on Saturday, May 21, soaked in the moment, and one-by-one wrapped their hands around a diploma – their diploma.
Relief. Pride. Validation. Fulfillment. Gratitude. Pure, unbridled joy. These emotions and more were readily on display at Moraine Park’s 2016 Commencement Ceremony in the Fond du Lac High School Field House. But amidst an eclectic mix of smiles and tears – whether seen on the faces of those on stage or from proud family members watching on – there was one unifying truth to connect all these journeys.
“No matter what path led us to Moraine Park, and no matter what different challenges all of us have faced, we have not only become stronger, but better versions of ourselves,” said Kayla Ebert, who was this year’s student speaker at commencement. Ebert from Burnett, Wis., is Moraine Park’s Wisconsin Technical College System 2015-16 District Student Ambassador, and she graduated from the College’s Human Resources program.
A quote by Paul Brandt – “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” – was the class motto adopted by the graduates from the College’s Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and West Bend campuses. In all, the Class of 2016 had nearly 800 graduate candidates complete their studies receiving associate of applied science degrees and technical diplomas.
Dr. James Eden, vice president of Academic Affairs, presided over the presentation of candidates with the conferring of degrees and diplomas done by Moraine Park President Bonnie Baerwald. Kristen Finnel, dean of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Fred Rice, dean of Applied Technology and Trades, announced the graduate candidates. From the Moraine Park District Board, Vice Chairperson Mike Miller, Treasurer Kim Krueger, and board members Candy Fields and Lowell Prill recognized the graduates.
Gina Popp, president and CEO of wisnet.com, in Fond du Lac, was the 2016 Commencement keynote speaker. Popp, who is from Fond du Lac, encouraged the graduates to find a place they are appreciated, be passionate both about what they do and who they do it with, not take any successes for granted, and not be afraid of changes.
“I heard this statement long ago, and it has stuck with me: ‘This is not a practice life.’ We can’t set 5-, 10- and 20-year plans that lead us on the wrong path. We must be willing to embrace change as it comes our way. Because it’s those forks in the road that force us to make those really important decisions, leading us on paths that we never intended to take,” Popp said.
Miller, who welcomed the Class of 2016 and their guests to the ceremony, expressed to the graduates how perseverance, determination and the support of others had gotten them to this point. “This is also a time to celebrate your successes and forget your failures, because together they have gotten you where you are today – earning your degree or technical diploma.”
Baerwald extended her congratulations to the graduates and wished each of them success in the great opportunities and ever-changing possibilities ahead.
“Whether your new path takes you to the start of a new career, continued employment in your chosen field, or continuation of your formal education at a four-year college or university, you will be faced with the challenge of adjusting to a constantly changing world in the 21st century,” Baerwald said.
Moraine Park’s commencement processional was led by bagpiper Gina Crossley, with the ceremonial music performed by Brassination, a brass quintet from the Fond du Lac area. Shady Grove, also from the Fond du Lac area, provided the pre-ceremonial music.
Moraine Park Technical College was established in 1912 and is one of 16 technical college districts that make up the Wisconsin Technical College System. With campuses in Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and West Bend, Wis., Moraine Park offers more than 100 associate of applied science degrees, technical diplomas, apprenticeships and certificates delivered in a variety of formats — classroom, online and blended. Training and technical assistance for businesses is also offered. Learn more at morainepark.edu.
To view more photos from the 2016 Commencement Ceremony, go to facebook.com/moraineparktech.