2019 Spring Commencement

By | September 2, 2019

[ Music ]>>Please remain
standing for the singing of our National Anthem. Performed by Master of
Music, Vocal Performance, Class of 2019 degree
candidate, Shaddai Solidum. [ Music ] [ Applause ]>>Good afternoon. Welcome to Camp Randall Stadium and to the 2019 spring
commencement of the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. Please join me in a round
of applause to honor and congratulate today’s
graduates – the Class of 2019. [ Applause ] We brought commencement back
to Camp Randall five years ago, re-establishing a
long-time tradition. It’s great to be gathered in one
place with all of the graduates, their families and friends. I apologize for the weather. You’d think as the birthplace
of weather satellite technology, we’d have some control
over these things. but at least it’s not snowing. At this time it’s my pleasure
to introduce to you the members of our official party. I’m going to ask each of them to
rise when their name is called and to remain standing. And I’ll ask the audience
to please hold your applause until all members of the
party have been introduced. Rebecca Blank, Chancellor. John Behling, President,
UW System Board of Regents. Cora Marrett, Alumna Speaker. William Karpus, Dean
of the Graduate School. Kathryn VandenBosch,
Dean of the College of Agricultural and
Life Sciences. Ian Robertson, Dean of the
College of Engineering. J.J. Watt, Keynote Speaker. [ Cheering ] You’re allowed that exception. That’s, that’s fine. [Laughter] Diana Hess, Dean of the
School of Education. Margaret Raymond, Dean
of the Law School. Karl Scholz, Dean of the
College of Letters and Science. Soyeon Shim, Dean of the
School of Human Ecology. Steven Swanson, Dean of
the School of Pharmacy. Scott Owczarek, Registrar. Raymond Taffora, Vice
Chancellor for Legal Affairs. Charles Hoslet, Vice Chancellor
for University Relations. Lori Reesor, Vice Chancellor
for Student Affairs. Barry Gerhart, Interim Dean
of the School of Business. Linda Scott, Dean of
the School of Nursing. [ Cheering ] Ronald Steinhoff,
Senior Class President. Caroline Matkom, Senior
Class Vice President. Mackenzie Rabas, Senior
Class Events Director. Mara Matovich, Senior Class
Communications Director. And Zach Kalyman, Senior
Class Philanthropy Director. Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor
for Finance and Administration. Norman Drinkwater, Interim
Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. Patrick Sims, Deputy
Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion. Mark Markel, Dean of the
School of Veterinary Medicine. Robert Golden, Dean
of the School of Medicine and Public Health. Argyle Wade, Interim
Dean of students. Jeffrey Russell, Dean of the
Division of Continuing Studies. Karl Martin, Dean of Extension. Paul Robbins, Dean of
the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Guido Podestá, Vice
Provost and Dean of the International Division. John Baldacchino, Director
of the Division of the Arts. Sarah Schutt, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alumni
Association Richard Amasino, Professor of Biochemistry, and Chair of the University
Committee of the Faculty Senate. Steve Smith, Secretary
of the Faculty. At this time, I’d also like to
thank the members of our faculty who are present, and
ask them to stand. [ Applause ] And finally, the graduates
who were chosen by their dean to represent their school or
college by carrying its flag in the academic procession,
please stand. [ Applause ] I would now like to
introduce Rebecca Blank, Chancellor of the University
of Wisconsin-Madison. [ Applause ] Last summer, Chancellor Blank
celebrated her fifth anniversary of leading this great
university. She is an internationally
respected economist who has also spent time
in Washington, D.C., working in three
different administrations. Most recently she was Deputy
Secretary and Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of
Commerce under President Obama, prior to her selection to
lead this university in 2013. Chancellor Blank received
her undergraduate degree in economics from the
University of Minnesota and holds a doctoral degree
in economics from MIT. [ Friendly Jeering by Crowd ] She has served on the faculty
at Princeton, Northwestern and the University of Michigan,
where she also served as Dean of the Gerald R. Ford
School of Public Policy. As Chancellor. She has committed herself to maintaining the
university’s position as one of the world’s top centers
for discovery and research. Educating students to
compete in a global economy. And helping our University
of Wisconsin experts. To share knowledge and
innovation with the state, the nation and the world, what
we call the Wisconsin Idea. Please welcome Chancellor
Rebecca Blank. [ Applause ]>>Good afternoon, everyone! Welcome to Camp Randall Stadium and the 166th spring
commencement of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Today, 7,881, plus or
minus, bachelor’s, master’s, and law degree candidates. Will become alumni of one of the world’s greatest
public universities. Making the Class of 2019
quite possibly the largest in our history! [ Cheering ] Friends and family, you have
the best seats in the house. Where fans have been cheering
on the Badgers for 102 years. And just for the
record, that first game in Camp Randall was a shutout: when we trounced the
University of Minnesota! [ Cheering ] Today those seats are
filled with loyal supporters who have helped today’s
students arrive at graduation. Let’s give your friends
and families, graduates, all a round of applause for
everything they’ve done. [ Applause ] Now the Class of 2019 has left
its mark at the University. This class set new records
for community service. It helped make UW-Madison the
number-one public university in the nation for
students studying abroad. Together, and I’ve
helped you with this. We’ve eaten 400,000 gallons of Babcock ice cream
in your time here. You’ve battled for Bascom
in epic snowball fights. When Madison got colder
than the Antarctica for a few days last winter. You built igloos. You learned the term
“frost quake”. And a few of you even figured
out that tossing boiling water into very cold air creates snow. And just this spring, you watched the Badger
Women’s Hockey team win the national championship! [ Cheering and Applause ] They are great athletes. And great students. And the co-captains
and assistant captains of that team are
graduating today. Annie Pankowski and
Sophia Shave, along with Emily Clark
and Maddie Rolfes. Congratulations to all of them! [ Applause ] For some people here, today’s
commencement can be bittersweet. There are members of this class who passed away before
graduation. They were friends and
colleagues and we pay tribute to their memory as well. 2019, as was noted at the
beginning of the ceremony, marks an historic
anniversary for UW. A hundred and fifty
years ago, in 1869, the first women earned
bachelor’s degrees from the University
of Wisconsin. There were six of them: Clara
Bewick, Anna Headen, Jane Nagle, Helen Noble, Elizabeth
Spencer, and Ella Ursula Turner. We honor them for
their extraordinary individual achievements. But also as trailblazers
for generations of extraordinary UW
women who followed them. Some of whom you’re
going to meet in just a few minutes
in our video. Women like Sister
Mary Kenneth Keller, a Roman Catholic
nun who in 1965. Became the first person
in the United States to earn a PhD in
Computer Sciences. And she did it right here at UW. [ Cheering ] Sister Mary Kenneth was a fierce
advocate for bringing more women into computer science
and technology fields. Mabel Watson Raimey, was the
first African-American woman to graduate from UW. She earned her degree, she
earned her degree 101 years ago. And went on to become the first
black woman lawyer in Wisconsin. And was a role model
for hundreds of others who followed her. [ Applause ] And Ethel Kullman Allen,
a three-time UW alumna who did groundbreaking botany
research here in the 1930s. And helped to create one
of the most beautiful spots on this campus: the
Allen Centennial Garden. [ Applause ] These remarkable women
and so many more, including the multi-talented
Cora Marrett. Who is going to share her
story later in this program. Are an important
part of our history. Their work has shaped
this university, this state, and the nation. But our celebration
is about more than any single anniversary
event or individual accomplishment. In recognizing our
women alums at UW, we are celebrating opportunity. An opening up of possibilities that those first women
experienced and that many of our graduates,
regardless of gender, experienced in their time here. Every one of you came to
UW with your own dreams, and your own unique story. You brought skills and
talents and interests. And each of you has had somewhat
different experiences here. But there is one
thing I hope every one of you discovered
on this campus. It’s the same thing those first
six women found 150 years ago. By identifying skills,
passions and abilities that you may not have
known you possessed, you discovered opportunity. And today, we celebrate some
of the extraordinary things that you’ve done with
that opportunity. For instance. When Leah Johnson saw ways to make our campus
more sustainable, she co-founded CLEAN: Campus
Leaders for Energy Action Now. Leah and CLEAN have played a
role in a number of changes, from installing bottle fillers
on water fountains to bringing in our first-ever
Director of Sustainability. Leah also spearheaded a
clothing swap that is now on its third year
bringing thousands of items for students to exchange. She has just accepted a position at an international
environmental consulting firm in Chicago. Congratulations, Leah. [ Applause ] Kent Mok came to this country from the Philippines
when he was 13. He dreamed of becoming a doctor. But after his father
passed away, Kent wasn’t sure he was going
to get to college at all. He found a way, thanks
to a Posse scholarship. And made a decision
to dedicate himself to helping others succeed. Today, Kent graduates
with honors and is applying to
medical school. [ Applause and Cheering ] Abby Catania came to UW
to study agricultural and applied economics. But she noticed that there
were not many students of color in most of her classes, so
she did something about it. First, she organized a program
to bring students in from one of Milwaukee’s highest-poverty
high schools for a three-day overnight
on campus. To learn about the things
we have to offer here. Second, she took $500
of her own savings to start a scholarship fund to
encourage more students like her to pursue majors in agriculture. She then brought
in other donors, and the first Abagail Catania
Diversity Scholarship was given last summer. Congratulations, Abby. [ Applause and Cheering ] We often say that UW is a
place that changes lives. But the university
is just a collection of buildings on a
beautiful lake. It is the people at the
university who change lives. People like Leah,
Kent, and Abby. And every one of you who embraced the opportunity
you were given to learn from a world-renowned faculty. And then shared that knowledge
to help others succeed. That’s the proud UW mission of
outreach and public service, what we call the Wisconsin Idea. And it’s given you opportunities to learn things we can’t
simply teach in a classroom. Things like how to be resilient
when things don’t go well. How to ask for help
when you need it. How to work effectively
with people who come from different backgrounds,
and how to be a leader. These are skills every one
of you are going to need to be successful in
work and in life. Which leads me to offer
you two pieces of advice. First, learn to be
uncomfortable at times. Remember when Bryan
Stevenson came to campus? Most of you were in
your first year here when we read Just Mercy
as our Go Big Read book. Bryan talked about what
he’s learned from his work at the Southern Poverty
Law Center. One of the most important
lessons is that people who accomplish really
important things are the ones who can tolerate discomfort. He said, “We all like
to seek the things that are comfortable
rather than uncomfortable. But if I want to create justice, then I have to get
comfortable with the struggle.” Those first six UW
women knew something about getting comfortable
with the struggle. They had a hard time here. They were frustrated that they
couldn’t take classes first thing in the morning. They had to wait until after
the men’s classes were through. They had to deal with some of
the male students treating them like they simply
didn’t belong here. And some of the faculty openly
questioning whether admitting women would dilute the
value of the degree. It would have been
easier to leave. And maybe some of you at times
have had that same feeling. But they didn’t run away,
and neither did you. You’ve learned to have
difficult conversations. You’ve learned to
advocate for yourself. And I hope you’ve learned how
to be uncomfortable at times. In those moments when you
stretch beyond your comfort zone, that’s when you are
most likely to learn and grow. Second piece of advice,
know who you are. And be that person. Don’t try to be someone
you’re not. One of our students tells
the story of coming here as an engineering major. Who struggled during his
first year to admit to himself that he didn’t really
like engineering, and he wasn’t very good at it. With a lot of introspection
and help from his adviser, he’s now a very happy
speech pathology major. [ Cheering ] I know that some of you have
had similar experiences. College isn’t just about
learning an academic subject. It’s about learning yourself. And learning to accept
who you are rather than trying to be someone else. Your student speaker today will
share his story about trying to become, as he puts it. A real person, rather than just
a happy image on Instagram. When you’re honest with
yourself about who you are. What you love to do,
what you’re good at. That’s when you’ll
be best prepared to make the right choices for
your career and your life. I want to close where I began. With our first six
women graduates. In many ways, they were no
different than all of you. They came here for the
opportunity to be educated at a great university. They were shaped by the
same enduring values that have guided your
Wisconsin Experience. And the letters they wrote
home weren’t so different from the text messages
you send to your families. Though I’m told they asked
their parents for things like a fresh batch of
pickles and a new slop bucket. Clara Bewick was
the valedictorian of that group of six. You can read about
her in your program. She became a journalist and a renowned advocate
for women’s rights. As her graduation approached, she wrote a letter
to her grandparents. And I want to end with a
passage from that letter. She wrote, “How strange it is that the years fly
so quickly by. The close of each year brings
us to a stopping place. Where just for a moment we
may tarry and glance back over the road we have passed. A milestone measuring off
the past from the future, the actual from the ideal. It is very pleasant
to turn to a new leaf, as yet clean and bright. So ‘forgetting the things
which are behind us.’ We will ‘run with patience the
race set before us.'” I wish you all the best as you turn
over a new leaf in your life. Keep in touch. Let us know what you’re doing. Let us know how you’re doing. And remember to come
back and visit. You will always be
part of the University of Wisconsin here in Madison. And I hope that UW will
always be part of you. I can’t wait to hear what you
accomplish in the years ahead. Congratulations to
the Class of 2019! And On Wisconsin! [ Cheers and Applause ] It is now my honor to
introduce John Robert Behling, President of the University of Wisconsin System
Board of Regents. Regent President Behling
graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. With a bachelor’s degree in
political science and economics, and received his law
degree at the University of Wisconsin Law
School in Madison. Regent Behling is the
first Regent president from the Chippewa Valley
area, where he is an attorney with the Eau Claire
law firm of Weld Riley. He serves as the
firm’s president and chairs its Government and
Administrative Law practice. Even as his term on the Board
of Regents comes to a close. I want to thank Regent President
Behling for his service and for joining us today. Please join me in welcoming him. [ Applause ]>>Thank you, Chancellor Blank,
for that very kind introduction. It’s always a pleasure
to be back on campus. When I was preparing my
remarks this morning. My spouse is looking
over my shoulder. And she said, “You’re
going to be speaking at the world-famous
Camp Randall today. Are you nervous?” And I said, “I feel confident. I feel pretty good.” And then she said, “The
Chancellor said there’s going to be over 50,000
people in attendance.” I said, “I think I’ve got this. I’m feeling pretty good.” Then she shouted out, “J.J.
Watt is going to be there!” [Laughter] Now I’m nervous. [Laughter] I know we’re
all looking forward to J.J.’s planned or
unplanned remarks later today. [Laughter] On behalf of my Regent colleagues
in the UW System. I offer to each of the graduates
a sincere congratulations. Graduating is an
important milestone and I know you all worked
very hard to get here today. It seems like just yesterday,
I walked across the stage. It’s now been 20 years. But to this day, I know that I could not have
walked across the stage. Without the love and support of
my spouse and family members. I know for each graduate here,
there’s a spouse, a mom, a dad, a loved one, a family, a
colleague that helped get them through the tough times. Graduates, let’s give
a round of applause to that special someone
who’s with us here today. [ Applause ] Just a few words about the Board
of Regents and the UW System. The UW System consists
of over 170,000 students, 44,000 employees,
and 26 campuses. It’s one of the largest and most
celebrated university systems in the world. The UW System is truly one of the economic generators
of the Midwest. The Board of Regents
oversee the UW System. An 18-member board, appointed
by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate oversee
the UW System. The last two years, I’ve had the
pleasure of serving as President of the Board of Regents. Each day when I’ve woke
up in the last 24 months. I’m thrilled and
amazed at the brilliance and the abilities
of our graduates. The Madison campus,
our flagship. Is the pride and joy
of Wisconsin residents. No matter where you
travel or take your degree, there’s no one can
take it away from you. It’s a degree that carries
worldwide recognition, respect and most importantly
these days, integrity. One final point I would like to
make is even though the world is changing quickly. One thing that hasn’t
changed is the importance of a higher education
institution with integrity. Where a dedicated faculty
like we have at Madison. Inspires students. Where innovative research
expands possibilities, and where students
encourage each other. UW-Madison exemplified
that when I walked across the stage 20 years ago. And I know it will continue to
do so for generations to come. In closing, Graduates,
I’m very proud of each and every one of you. Thank you for choosing
UW-Wisconsin. Thank you for being a Badger. And On Wisconsin! [ Applause ]>>Thank you, Regent
Behling, for your remarks. It is now my pleasure to welcome
to the podium the vice president of the senior class,
Caroline Matkom , ho will introduce
our keynote speaker. Caroline is a Milwaukee
native whose time on campus beautifully
illustrates the global reach of UW-Madison. As a junior, she studied abroad
in Scandinavia and traveled to Israel with other
student leaders. To learn more about the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is the current
president of Project Malawi. A campus group that aims to
improve the quality of life for women in the
African country. And she founded the UW-Madison
chapter of Circle of Sisterhood. The chapter so far has raised
$25,000 toward its goal of $40,000 to open a school
for young women in Senegal. During her time with us, Caroline has been a powerful
ambassador to the world. And we thank her for
proving yet again that the Wisconsin Idea
extends far beyond this state and this country. Post-graduation, Caroline
will be joining Google’s Human Resources Department in
Mountain View, California. Please join me in
welcoming Caroline Matkom. [ Applause ]>>Thank you, Provost. It is truly an honor to introduce our keynote
speaker, a former Badger. Who has gone on to great acclaim
as both a world-class athlete and one of the most selfless,
generous players in the NFL. Just a few years ago, J.J.
Watt was playing defensive end for UW right here
at Camp Randall. He started as a walk-on. But through hard work
and perseverance, he rose to become the
team’s Most Valuable Player. And the 11th overall pick
in the 2011 NFL draft. [ Applause ] His strong Wisconsin
work ethic has continued to serve him well in the NFL. Where his teammates on the Houston Texans have
nicknamed him “The Milkman,” because he always delivers. [Laughter] He’s quickly become
legendary, considered by many as the greatest defensive
player ever. But it’s the way he uses
his NFL stardom for good that really sets him apart. As a Community and
Nonprofit Leadership major, I am personally inspired by
the J.J. Watt Foundation. Which funds after-school
athletic programs in communities where those opportunities
have been lacking. He started the foundation
while still a student here. Two years ago, after Hurricane
Harvey devastated Houston. Mr. Watt launched a fundraising
effort that has now raised more than $41 million dollars
for hurricane relief. [ Applause ] It’s efforts like these, combined with his
superior athleticism, that led Sports Illustrated to name him the 2017
Sportsperson of the Year. The same year, he received
the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Please help me in welcoming
to the podium the man who has been called
a beast on the field and a saint off, J.J. Watt. [ Cheering and Applause ]>>I broke it. Sorry. Hang on. I’m fixing it. All right. We’re good. I think. Madison, it is absolutely
incredible to be here. Thank you very much for having
me in this beautiful city.>>[ Applause ] I’ve obviously lived in Texas
for the last eight or so years, and it’s been fantastic. The people are great. The food is delicious,
and they love football, which is obviously good for me. But I have to admit that it’s
great to be back in a place. Where I can order fried cheese
curds and chocolate custard and not get looked at
like I have three heads. [Laughter] I’ve been
trying to spread the word. Fried cheese curds
just will not catch on. Last night, I sat down
to a Friday fish fry, with some potato pancakes
and a delicious Spotted Cow. [ Applause ] You do, you’ve had one or
two yourselves, I know. [Laughter] You do not
realize how difficult it is to get Spotted Cow outside
the State of Wisconsin. Until you live outside
the State of Wisconsin. Every time I come back here,
I pack it in my suitcase and I smuggle it out
like I’m Pablo Escobar. [Laughter] If anybody here lives
in Texas, my fridge is stocked! [Laughter] But in
all seriousness, I’m extremely humbled and
honored to be here today. I want to say thank you
first to the Chancellor. I want to say thank
you to the faculty, the senior class officials, and,
of course, to the University of Wisconsin graduating
class of 2019. [ Applause ] When I was first asked to be
the commencement speecher Geez Louise great job
J.J. There we go. Maybe I should have
wrote it down. [Laughter] When I
was first asked to be the commencement
speaker, I had media. A couple days after I had a
press conference in Houston. And they asked, “Have you
written your speech yet?” And I said, no. I don’t write speeches. And they said, “Well,
what are you going to have on the Teleprompter?” And I said, nothing,
leave it black. I don’t care. [Laughter] And then after
that people reached out to me. I had many, many people
reach out to me and said, “I want to help you
write your speech.” Professional speech
writers said, “I will help you
write your speech.” All of these people said, “I want to help your
write your speech. What do you want to write? I can write it for you.” And my response was. And I hope I’m right. “I think they asked me to be
their speaker, because they want to hear what I have to say. Not what you have to say. Thank you.” [ Applause ] Not what a speech
writer can write for me. Not what I can sit down and
write out over the course of multiple months, what
I think you want to hear. I think, and I hope,
that you want to hear what I’ve learned
throughout my time. And what the University of
Wisconsin has taught me. What my career has taught me. What some of the
things that I’ve been through in my life
have taught me. One person on social media,
who I assume is here today, even reached out and
said, “How dare you? I worked for four
years for my degree. How dare you not
prepare for your speech?” [Laughter] First off, calm down. Okay? Calm down. I got it. All right? Just because I didn’t write
a speech down does not mean that I didn’t prepare. I spent time watching
YouTube videos of many commencement speeches
from many different people. [Laughter] Just like you, I read
a whole lot of Wikipedia pages. [Laughter] And last
night, I crammed it all in and wrote something down on
this little piece of paper. [Laughter] But I am prepared. I did think it through. And when I was watching
those videos, I learned a lot of
different things. One thing that I saw, was that
a lot of people made lists. Lists of life rules and goals
and things you should follow. And I thought to myself, I
don’t think I’m a list guy. I don’t know if, I don’t know
if I’m going to write a list. I don’t know if I want to. There’s a lot of
people in this audience that are a helluva
lot smarter than me. And I probably shouldn’t be
telling them how to live life. And then I started
to write my speech. And what I wanted to talk
about not write it up here. And what I wanted to talk
about was Dream Big Work Hard. I started my foundation
when I was at this university as a junior. I got a whole lot of help from the legal department
at this school. They helped me work through
the 501 C3 paperwork. They had me work through
how to start a foundation, and Dream Big Work
Hard was my motto. Because I truly believe that
you should have as big of dreams as you want in this world. Never let anybody tell you you
can’t accomplish those dreams. I once had a teacher
who told me. That my dream of one day playing
in the NFL was unrealistic. Well, hello. [ Laughter ] I also had people
who believed in me. And those people helped
me get to where I was. You should have as big of
dreams as you want to have. Don’t ever let anybody
tell you otherwise. But to accomplish those
dreams you must be willing to put in the work. You must be willing
to put in the time, the effort, the energy. The sacrifices that it takes to
make those big dreams come true. And so as I sat there,
and I started going through what I wanted
to say to you today. And how I wanted to
get my message across. I thought to myself,
well, son of a gun, this sounds a lot like a list. So what I have for you today, is
four lessons that I’ve learned about following your dreams. I followed my dreams all
the way to where I am today. And I have a whole lot more
that I would like to do. But along the way to this
point, I have learned a lot. And I’d like to share
that with you today. I grew up 45 minutes from this
stadium, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. [Cheering] Yeah, okay. We don’t have that many
people in the town. Okay? (Laughter) So
I know you’re lying. Thank you. I appreciate it. When you’re born in
the State of Wisconsin, your childhood closet consists
of three things: green and gold, red and white, and camo. [Laughter] Maybe some
blaze orange in 2019. I don’t know. I had the obligatory Brett
Favre jersey in my closet, but what I really gravitated
towards was the red and white. I wanted to be a
Wisconsin Badger. Truth be told, when I was young,
I wanted to be a hockey player. I did the skate with
the Badgers. I loved it. I wanted to be a
hockey player here. As I grew older, it
changed to football. I came to my first football
game in 2005, in this stadium. I remember everything about it, just like I am sure you remember
everything about your first time on this campus or
at this stadium. Hopefully, I am not
involved, because that’s going to make me feel really old. Some guy here today
brought a picture of me, and he said he painted it
when he was in eighth grade. That hurt. That hurt. [Laughter] I just turned 30, and I’m having a tough
time dealing with it, guys. [Laughter] Anyways,
my first day here, when I came to the game,
I did the tailgating. I can smell, I can still
smell the bratwurst. We played Cornhole. The crisp was in the air. The leaves were changing colors. It’s magical. It’s truly magical. And I know that you all
know what I’m talking about. When I walked into the stadium and I could hear
the band playing. [Cheering and Applause]
Oh, all right. Yeah. You guys! Shout out to Leckrone, huh? [Cheering] What the? Hell, yeah. [ Applause ] I could feel the tradition. I could feel the history. This place has something
special about it. On that day, John Stocco
in the fourth quarter with 25 seconds left, in
that endzone right there. Ran a quarterback draw to score
a touchdown to beat Michigan. I remember, I was sitting right
over there, in those seats. And I thought to
myself, this is it. This is my dream. This is where I want to be. I’m a Wisconsin Badger. Unfortunately, the coaching
staff didn’t quite agree. [Laughter] They said I was too
small to play tight end here. They didn’t have a
scholarship for me. In fairness, I was 6’5″
and very skinny and lanky. I looked like one of those blow
up things at a car dealership. [Laughter] So, I went
to Central Michigan. I started my career
there as a tight end. I was a starter. We won the conference
championship but something always felt off. I felt like I belonged
somewhere else. And I felt like that
somewhere else was here. I wanted to be a Badger. I transferred in, and I
walked onto the university. Now, many people know the story
that I delivered pizzas during that time to try to make a
little money and help out. But not many people
know this story, because I’m pretty sure
I’ve never told it publicly. I used to be, that year when
I walked on at Wisconsin, I was a maintenance worker
in this very stadium. You can ask, I swear to God. You can ask Dick, Darryl, Jeff. I don’t know if they
still work here. Some of them, I hope
they’re still with us. [Laughter] We, uh,
the best guys. I love them. No, no, inside jokes. You know, I mean, we’re good. We, we would clean the seats,
we would power wash the floors, we would paint the railings. And I specifically remember
one day right up there in section AA, I was
painting that railing. Yeah, I painted it,
so don’t mess it up. [Laughter] Right up there. We get a 15 minute break. And I was sitting there on
my break, and I was looking out over the empty field. And I thought to myself, imagine
running out of that tunnel. Imagine being on that
field wearing that uniform. That is my dream. And every day during spring
practice, during training camp, I would go up to that office. See the balcony. Five windows to the
right of that. That was Charlie Partridge’s
office, my defensive line coach. I had switched over from
tight end to defensive line. Every night at 10:00 p.m. after
we was done with starters. After he was done with
his coaches’ meetings, long after everybody went
home, Coach Partridge would go over my scout team film with me. And he would show me where
I should place my hands, how my footwork should
look like. What to look for in
opposing offenses. He taught me how to
play defensive line. I tell you those
stories for two reasons. One, to tell you what an
honor it is to be here today. When I was sitting up there in section AA painting
those railings. I couldn’t even have dreamed
that I would be standing here in front of you as your
commencement speaker. I also tell you that, because
that’s the first lesson that I learned about
chasing your dreams. The path to your dreams often
never goes the way you imagine it will. When I dreamed about
coming to Wisconsin, I dreamed about getting a
scholarship out of high school. I dreamed about starting early
on in my career and going and winning Rose Bowls. There were no obstacles. There were no challenges. Of course, I’d have to do the
workouts and do the schoolwork. But I did not imagine making
minimum wage painting railings in the stadium at Camp
Randall as a walk on. And that’s my message to you. Even at this point in your life, you may never have imagined how
the college career would go. Maybe you didn’t start here. Maybe you didn’t start in
the major you finished in. Maybe there was some
tough times, adversity, some obstacles along the way. But here you are accomplishing
one of your dreams. It will be difficult. It will not look the
way you want it to look. But in the end, if you stay
focused, if you stay true, if you have the passion for
your dream, you will get there. No matter how difficult
that path may be. That leads me to my second
lesson that I learned, and that’s that nobody
accomplishes their dreams alone. I implore you to find
somebody on this planet who has accomplished
their dreams. Without the help of
another human being. Nobody does. You need help. Both good and bad. Positive and negative. Positively, my parents helped
me financially when I walked on here, leaving a
scholarship behind. Coach Partridge helped me learn
how to play defensive line. I have family, parents,
friends, teachers, coaches, teammates that have
helped me along the way in so many positive ways. You might wonder how could
you be negatively helped? In 2011 I was drafted
in the first round by the Houston Texans. It was one of the
biggest days of my life. One of my dreams had come true. I was ecstatic. I hugged my family. My high school coaches
were there with me. The people who helped
get me there were there. And then I went back
to the hotel room that night, I checked my phone. Because wanted to see
what Twitter was saying and see how the reaction
in Houston was. And I clicked the video
of the draft party at the stadium in Houston. The first thing I saw
was some dude at the top of his lungs booing
his heart out. They showed the video of
the whole draft party. They all booed me. The whole place booed me
except for like two people. I remember watching the
video thinking, all right. There it is. That’s my motivation. You can take negativity
one of two ways. I could have said, oh, no, how am I ever going
win these people over? This is terrible. But instead I said
this is my motivation. My entire goal is to come
to Houston and to work and earn those people’s respect. You can use negative
energy to power your dream. The most recent example of
somebody helping me came when my 2016 and 2017 seasons
were cut short by injury. In 2016, I had a second back
surgery that ended my season. In 2017, I broke my leg. In between those two things,
my girlfriend tore her ACL. I had just recovered from
my back injury enough to where I could help her
with her ACL in the beginning. Then, as she got off crutches
and she started to walk, but still had to wear a
brace, I broke my leg. I couldn’t walk. I had to lay on the couch for two months straight
and not walk. And my girlfriend, who
was still recovering from her own ACL injury,
had to take care of me. I remember specifically
sitting in my kitchen one day and I broke down and I cried. I was devastated. I was in tears, and
I just let them flow. I was supposed to be the
one taking care of her. I’m supposed to be the one
taking care of other people. I’m not supposed to be
the one getting the help. And that’s the day I learned
that no matter how big you are, no matter how strong you are,
no matter how tough you may be. Everybody needs to ask for help
at some point in their lives. We all could use a helping hand. We all can use . ( [ Applause ] We all can help somebody else. On the path to your dreams,
you will not do it alone. You will need the
help of somebody else. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Whether it is personal, professional, whatever
it may be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And, also, don’t be afraid to
lend a helping hand to others. There’s no reason we can’t
all accomplish our dreams. And we can’t all help each
other accomplish our dreams. The third thing that I realized
was that just as you can learn from chasing your dreams. You can also learn
from your nightmares. In 2017, August, one
of the biggest storms in U.S. history hit Houston. The city was under water. There was flooding. People were losing their homes. People were stranded. My team was in New Orleans. We were flying back and
we got diverted to Dallas. We were stuck at Dallas,
and we couldn’t get home. On TV, we watched as the streets
we drove on, the houses we knew, everything was underwater. We had families stranded back
there, teammates had wives, children, stranded
in their homes. There was nothing we could do. We felt helpless. I felt helpless. The city I loved, the city
that supports me, was in need, and I could not help them. I got my cellphone out. I sat in the hotel room,
and I asked social media if it would help
me raise $200,000. I knew what I would
do with $200,000. I was going to buy food, water. Diapers and paper towels. I was going to help
in any way I could. I knew how I was
going to do that. Then it started to go up a
little bit, and it started to go up, and up, and
up, and in the end, it was over $41 million dollars. I’m going to be honest with ya,
I didn’t know what I was going to do with $41 million dollars. [ Applause ] One of the first
people I reached out to was a fellow Badger. You’re going to be surprised at
how many fellow Badgers you have in the world and how
tight this fraternity is. I reached out to Jake Wood,
who started Team Rubicon. He has done incredible
work throughout his career in disaster relief and helping
out all different disasters. Hurricane Katrina
and everything. He was one of my first calls,
and he helped me figure it out. And we sat down and
we talked through it and we came up with a plan. Before the hurricane and
before the fundraiser, I had developed a bit
of a negative attitude, a cynical attitude
towards the world. We live in a very negative time. The news is negative. The lead stories
are always divisive. There’s things that are
dividing and pulling us apart. I was worried. I didn’t have a whole
lot of hope. But in an instant,
with that fundraiser, with the letters, the donations. Hundreds of thousands of
people pouring in their support from all over the world. Not caring about the religion,
the race, the ethnicity, the financial status of the
people they were helping. Not knowing the people
they were helping. The willingness to
step up and help out their fellow
human gave me hope. There’s reason. There is good. There is true Humanity
out there in the world. We just need to shine
a light on it. That hurricane fundraiser
for me shined the light on how many good people
there are in the world. It doesn’t always
make headlines. It doesn’t always dominate
our social media feeds. But I promise you, there
is so much more good out in the world
than we realize. And the more that we can help
to get that good out there, and to shine that
light on that good, we truly can make a difference. So I learned from that. Thank you. [ Applause ] I learned from that, that
even on your darkest days, even throughout your nightmares. When the sky is literally
falling, you can learn from it. You can grow from it. There is a silver
lining that you can find. I implore you. As you go through your journey,
and you chase your dreams, be sure to find those silver
linings on your darkest days. There are going to
be nightmares. I wish I could say there aren’t. But it’s just the truth. You’re going to go through
some very difficult times as you navigate these
waters moving forward. When you go through
those tough days, when you go through
those difficult times. Remember to learn
something from them. Remember that you
can rise above them. And remember that there’s
an opportunity to grow. The final thing that I learned
from chasing my dreams is that I have a whole
lot more left to learn. I know that I don’t
know everything. Nobody in the world
has all the answers. They can lie to you
and say that they do. They can post on their
social media and act like they have a perfect life. But nobody does. There’s a lot that
have great lives, and I am fortunate
enough to be one of them. But nobody has, nobody
is perfect. Nobody has it all figured out. When you came to Madison,
you may have had an idea of what you wanted
your major to be. But I am sure a lot
of you didn’t. When I sit here and I think
about what I want to do after my football
career someday. Some days I think I
have all the answers. Some days I know exactly
where I want to go and what I want to be. Other days I sit there with my
cup of coffee, I stare blankly. And I think, what the hell am
I going to do with my life? [Laughter] I am sure
you have all been there. You are at the point where you
have your entire life ahead of you. You just earned a degree from
one of the best universities in the country, and you
have an entire world and so many opportunities
sitting in front of you. You may not know
what your dream is. You may not know what exactly it
is that you want to accomplish. And that’s okay. But when you do figure it
out, when you do remember, the four things I
talked about today. When you figure your
dream out, remember, it will not be a straight path. Stay committed. Never lose sight of what it
is you want to accomplish. Don’t be afraid to ask
for help along the way. And don’t be afraid to help
others along their path. Remember that there
will be dark days. You will go through
difficult times. But they are learning
opportunities, they’re growing opportunities. You can come out on the other
side better than you went in. And remember there’s still a
whole lot left for you to learn. Nobody has all the answers. You probably never will. But that’s okay. Keep learning. Keep inspiring. Keep striving to be the
best version of yourself. Today, you’re accomplishing one
of your parents’ biggest dreams. Hopefully one of
your own as well. Hopefully. We hope. And tomorrow
when you wake up. Probably around like 2:00 p.m.. You’re going to begin a
journey towards new dreams. You’re going to have new goals. You’re going to have new
things you want to accomplish. As you go along that journey
towards your new dreams, remember to help a few
people out along the way. Remember to try and change the
world for the better as you go. This is an incredible
place that we live in. It’s an incredible time. If we each do a little
bit, if we each try and help each other out. If we’re each not
afraid to ask for help, we can do some unbelievable
things. Together we can change
the world. One person at a time. Congratulations, and thank
you to the class of 2019! On, Wisconsin! [ Applause ]>>Well, over my career in
the academy, I’ve heard a lot of great commencement speeches. But that one was
really inspiring. Thank you, J.J. for
your inspiring words to our graduates. [ Applause ] At yesterday’s commencement
ceremony for doctoral candidates, we
awarded two honorary degrees. These degrees are awarded not
for the completion of a course of study, like your degrees
that we’ll award today. But for living an
extraordinary life. This year’s recipients
are Thomas Brock, a pioneering scientist
whose research helped usher in modern molecular biology. And Steve Miller, a
legendary musician. [ Applause and Cheering ] Whose advocacy on behalf of all artists is
making the path easier for the next generation
of musicians. I encourage you to read
the profiles in the program of these two exceptional
individuals. Both of whom have strong
ties to UW-Madison. I think you will agree that
they richly deserve this special recognition. [ Applause ] It is my pleasure
to introduce someone who does not need an
introduction at camp Randall. Professor Michael
Leckrone and members of the university’s
School of Music band. Who will play our musical
selection this afternoon: Songs to Thee Wisconsin. Arranged by Professor Leckrone. This is a bittersweet
moment for us. Mike, as you all know, is
stepping down after 50 years as director of the
UW-Madison Marching Band. This will be one of the last
times that he leads the band. Please join me in thanking a
gifted teacher and composer, and legendary showman
who will forever be part of this university,
Professor Michael Leckrone. [ Applause and Cheering ] [ Band Plays ] [ Applause ] Thank you, Professor Leckrone
and all the band members, for your contribution today. This year, as has
been noted already. We commemorate an
historic moment for female graduates
on this campus. And we’re reminded
of all the incredible and accomplished women who have
called this university home. Our next speaker, Cora
Marrett, is one of them. Dr. Marrett earned a
master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from UW-Madison. Then later served on our
faculty for more than 20 years. She published widely in the
field of sociology while serving in a host of public and
professional positions. Including a long and
distinguished association with the National
Science Foundation. Most recently, she was the
foundation’s deputy director, serving until 2014. Under her leadership, the
foundation increased its efforts to broaden representation. In the fields of
science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This fall, it’s too bad
you are all leaving. I’m pleased to announce that
Dr. Marrett has agreed to return to campus to teach an class on the Wisconsin Idea,
Past and Present. Please help me in
welcome Dr. Cora Marrett. [ Applause ]>>Thank you so much,
Chancellor Blank. I have been called
a trailblazer. But do my efforts to broaden
boundaries in science, integrate fields of knowledge
and cultivate diversity. Do they merit me the
badge, trailblazer? Not if the term, as often
defined, depicts someone who rids trails of poisonous
growth or clears wild, barbarous creatures from paths. But if trailblazing signals
efforts to widen of pathways and diversify the path-takers,
then I embrace the moniker. Key challenges in the
contemporary world call for advances in science. The demand is for
systematic analyses on life, the physical universe, behavior, and the entities
that people create. The imperative is for inclusion. Inclusion of fields
of knowledge, and for all of human talent. The lessons I have learned
about the benefits of and potential for inclusion. Derive from varied experiences. Among those experiences: service
on the Presidential Commission that investigated the nuclear
power accident in Pennsylvania. Extended years on the Board of
the Argonne National Laboratory. Which is a Department
of Energy operation. Engagement with the Social
Science Research Council and countless other roles. I moved from being an
observer and student of the scientific
enterprise to someone seeking to affect that enterprise. Importantly, I learned that
inclusion can be achieved through identifiable strategies, collaborations, and
determination. My years at the National
Science Foundation were especially pivotal. As I embraced its charge to
promote the progress of science and advance national health,
prosperity and welfare. Now persons labelled as trailblazers typically do
not set out to change the world. Rather, it is discontent
with existing options, alongside a vision
of possibilities, from which action springs. This is how I imagine
the situation of the first women graduates from the University
of Wisconsin. The six, who in 1869, received
the first bachelor’s degrees awarded to women. Possibly they regarded
the constraints of the day as unacceptable. The University had admitted
men from its founding in 1848, but not women. In 1871, it created a
separate Female College through which women could
take a limited set of courses. President Paul Chadbourne
had approved the arrangement. Certain that co-education
would distract and impede the progress
of male students. Subsequently, the Regents
disbanded the Female College and admitted women into
the larger University. Significantly, the
change occurred for white women,
but not for others. And in fact, it was 1918
before the first woman of color graduated
from the University. Inclusionary efforts, then,
do not inevitably reach across all boundaries. Now obstacles to inclusion
remain in the current era. But we can draw inspiration
from the pioneering spirit that prompted the continued
quest to remove obstacles? Dedication to trailblazing
appears time and again in the annals of the University. Plaques on the campus and elsewhere record
the memorable words that President Charles
Van Hise issued in 1905. Those words, which I’m
sure you have memorized. “I shall never be content
until the beneficent influence of the University reaches
every family in the state.” Faculty, staff and
students have embraced and enlarged this mantra. Striving to have
the University work to benefit the larger nation
and indeed the entire world. That Spirit prompted Lisa Hecht
to attend today’s ceremony. A ceremony she missed when
she received her degree in engineering 40 years ago. Now on a personal level,
I cherish my affiliation with an institution
where the dedication to inclusion is long-standing and the pursuit of
it perseveres. And I am confident that the
trailblazers who brought us to where we are today, 150 years after women first received
University of Wisconsin degrees. Would be proud, as am I,
to see the path-makers all of you will continue to be, and that you’ve already
become, become. Thank you so much. [ Applause ] [ Music ]>>Ever wonder what
puts the “W” in UW? Why women of course.>>We’re celebrating
UW Women at 150. [ Music ]>>Imagine Wisconsin
150 years ago. It was 1863, the height
of the American Civil War. The fledging University
of Wisconsin had lost much of its male population
to the battlefield. The times were right
to admit women.>>Such a good start,
except women were later put into separate classes
in the “Female College.”>>By 1869, the first group of trailblazers was
ready to graduate. We know they became a lawyer,
a high school principle, and a prominent suffragist who
worked with Susan B. Anthony.>>But before Commencement,
there was a hold up. President Chadbourne scoffed
at the idea of conferring “bachelor’s” degrees to women.>>Did you ever wonder
why it’s called a “bachelor’s” degree
in the first place? Fortunately the Board
of Regents decided that women should receive
the same degree as men.>>They also decided to
“honor” President Chadbourne by naming a building after him! The first all-women
dormitory, Chadbourne Hall.>>Women officially received
full co-educational status in 1874, and began
taking classes with men.>>They started working in biology labs, and
studying geology. At last, women had their
chance to delve into science.>>One of our alumnae became
the first woman geologist in the United States. Florence Bascom, daughter of
former UW President John Bascom.>>The work of another alumna,
bacteriologist Alice Evans, led to one of the most important
advances in public health in the 20th century:
pasteurized milk.>>At the UW, women in
science were here to stay.>>The first known African
American woman graduated from the UW in 1918.>>Mabel Watson Raimey was fired
from her first job as a teacher because she was black. She went on to become
the state’s first female African-American lawyer.>>Soon other UW women
followed in her footsteps.>>Women like Vel Phillips, the
first African American woman to graduate from
the UW Law School. And the first woman and
African American to be elected to Milwaukee’s Common Council.>>Phillips championed fair
housing and civil rights. And went on to become
Milwaukee’s first female judge and Wisconsin’s first
African American judge.>>We named a residence
hall after her.>>In every aspect of the collegiate
experience, UW women excelled. They proved their strength
in Physical Education.>>And showed their
aptitude for 3D design.>>Women participated in sports like basketball as
early as 1900.>>All across campus, women
pursued their passions.>>They didn’t hold
back on having fun. And still don’t. [ Music ]>>But UW women also
took life seriously. In the Army Nurse Corps,
during World War II, Signe Skott Cooper saw that
nurses were much more than “physician’s handmaidens.” She devoted 60 years to
nursing education at UW, and supported a 21st
century vision for the School of Nursing.>>The theater was the stage for a different battle
– civil rights.>>Alumna Lorraine
Hansberry’s award-winning drama, A Raisin in the Sun. Became the first play by
an African American woman to be produced on Broadway.>>In the arts, UW women
transformed modern dance.>>Margaret D’Houbler founded
the first academic dance department in the nation.>>Zona Gale was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer
Prize for drama.>>Gerda Lerner founded the
nation’s first graduate program in women’s history.>>Ada Deer was the first
woman to lead a tribal nation and the Federal Bureau
of Indian Affairs.>>The first female drum major in the Big Ten was
UW’s Dee Willems.>>The first woman
and youngest person to head a Big Ten university
police force: Sue Riseling.>>The first female
chancellor in the Big Ten? UW-Madison’s Donna Shalala. Biddy Martin was UW’s second
female chancellor, and now, me.>>There are so many
more firsts for UW women!>>And, when it comes to
national championship teams?>>Badger women win!!>>Looking back, we realize
how far UW women have come in 150 years.>>Where will you go next?>>Forward! And On Wisconsin! [ Applause ]>>I love that video! Now we’re at the
point of the conferral of our graduate degrees. I call upon Margaret Raymond,
Dean of the Law School.>>Candidates for the degrees
Doctor of Juridical Science, Juris Doctor, Master
of Laws and Master of Laws-Legal Institutions
will please rise. [ Applause ] Chancellor Blank.>>Dean Raymond.>>These scholars have
successfully completed the requirements of the
courses in law. Upon the recommendation of
the faculty of the Law School, I present these candidates
for degrees.>>On the recommendation of
the faculty of the Law School and under the authority
granted by the University of Wisconsin System
Board of Regents. I confer on you the
degree Doctor of Juridical Science,
Juris Doctor. Master of Laws or Master
of Laws-Legal Institutions. Please join me in
recognizing the achievements of our law degree candidates. [ Applause ] Candidates may be seated. I would now like to call
upon William Karpus, Dean of the Graduate School to present the candidates
for master’s degrees.>>Candidates for master’s
degrees will please rise. Chancellor Blank.>>Dean Karpus. [ Applause ]>>On the recommendation
of the graduate faculty, I present these candidates
for the master’s degree in their respective fields
Master of Accountancy. Master of Arts. Master of Business
Administration. Master of Engineering. Master of International
Public Affairs. Master of Music. Master of Professional
French Studies. Master of Public Affairs. Master of Science. Master of Social Work.>>On the recommendation of the
faculty of the Graduate School. And under the authority
granted by the University of Wisconsin System
Board of Regents. You will be admitted each
to your appropriate degree. Please join me in
recognizing the achievements and congratulating
these candidates. [ Applause ] Please be seated.>>I would now like to
introduce our student speaker, Ron Steinhoff. Who will deliver remarks on
behalf of the senior class. Ron is from Eden
Prairie, Minnesota, and he is the President
of the class of 2019. He embodies what we like to
call The Wisconsin Experience, which is our desire
for our students to embrace learning inside
and outside the classroom. Ron has studied abroad twice. And spent time in Washington as a prestigious Mount
Vernon Leadership Fellow. His intellectual curiosity
and empathy led him to undertake an honors thesis. In which he surveyed
Hispanic and LatinX students about their experiences with mental health care
services on campus. His conclusions will help
us make those services more accessible and inclusive. Ron initiated the
position of health and wellness chair
at his fraternity. And this past year
served as a student voice on a university committee
promoting campus wellness. As you can see, Ron has made
UW-Madison a better place. And we sincerely hope we have
had a similar impact on him. I would be remiss
without also mentioning that while earning
a bachelor’s degree in political science
and Spanish. Ron simultaneously has been
pursuing a master’s degree through the LaFollette School
of Public Affairs on campus. He is about halfway to
completing a master’s degree in international public affairs. A field of study that will
serve him well this summer as he works at the Pentagon. I am pleased to invite
Ron to offer remarks on behalf of the class of 2019. [ Applause ]>>Thank you Provost Mangelsdorf
for that kind introduction. Before I begin, I have one
promise have to fulfill. Exactly two years
ago, I was sitting in this stadium watching
my sister receive her master’s degree. While that year’s senior
class president was speaking, my mom tapped my
shoulder and said. “Hey, Ron. If you’re ever up there
giving this speech, you better thank me.” [Laughter] At the time, I
rolled my eyes at her and said, “Mom I will NEVER
speak at commencement.” But as J.J. said,
follow your dreams. So, Mom, here it is, “Thank you! I would be nowhere without
yours and Dad’s support. But I’m also a little concerned about what else you may
know about my future.” So now I’m supposed to tell
you how with this degree, you sill change the world. And likely many of you will. But I want to use
this time to talk about something a
little bit different. Something everyone in
this stadium can do. And that’s being real. To take your mask off. At the start of my senior year, everything was going
really well. And I was so excited
to be back on campus. The anxiety I’d struggled with
in high school, I’d overcome. It was under control. I was nominated by UW for
the Rhodes scholarship. Was president of
three organizations, and had a clear idea
of who I was and where I stood in the world. When friends would ask how I
did it all, I’d just smile, but secretly, I enjoyed
the comment. It showed that I had
my life together. Yet things began to unravel. I received the news that I
didn’t receive the Rhodes. Then came a job rejection,
a scholarship rejection, and the bad news kept coming in. My future was unknown
and that scared me. I felt a growing sense
of anxiety within me, but I refused to admit it. Because to admit that my anxiety
was getting worse would be admitting weakness. And I refused to ask for help. On the outside, I acted like
I had everything together. I was wearing a mask
that said everything in my life was perfect. But on the inside,
I was drowning. I’d go through my day, lead
the meetings I had to lead. And do it all with a smile. But I still didn’t ask for help. Things got so bad that
one day I questioned if my own life was worth living. And as hard as it is to
admit it today, if it weren’t for my Christian faith and my
amazing friends and family. I don’t know if I’d
be here today. It came to a breaking point. The fake, “everything is
okay” mask I was wearing was suffocating me. I broke down in front of
one of my best friends. I shared how the thoughts
of suicide terrified me. I was weak, vulnerable, and
broken, but, for the first time in a long time, I was real. It was me. The guy who always advocated for
mental health care for others. Who dedicated his
entire thesis to it. Finally admitted that
he needed it himself. And a funny thing happened. After I was real with my
friend and shared my struggles. I started to feel better. Together we sought
mental health counseling. [Cheering] Thank you. We didn’t improve
overnight, but we did improve. Through the simple act
of being real with myself and sharing my struggles
with those around me. Proved to make all
the difference. I began to learn more about
myself as my thoughts began to be freed from anxiety’s grip. Of the things I’ve learned
about myself, one stands out. Not everything I learned
about myself was simple. But although this is a very
difficult conclusion to come to. In the past semester, I
realized I’m bisexual. An identity. [Cheering] An identity that terrified me
these past six months. But through being real
and embracing myself, I could share with
50,000 people. [ Applause ] It wasn’t easy. But it was real. And it was me. I now hope to serve as a mental
health advocate for those who have had their
voice taken away. For those who haven’t made
it to the other side yet. To serve them. Looking back, I’ve
realized a couple of things. I realized that in my
despair, I found hope. In being real, I found myself. And in my weakness,
I found strength. But enough about me,
let’s talk about YOU. The class of 2019. We all have our struggles,
it’s what makes us human. You might have gotten rejected
from your dream grad school. Or maybe you didn’t get the
job you so richly deserved. No matter your situation,
there’s one thing you can do that will make everything
a little bit easier. And that’s to be real. Put the mask down. In a world inundated
with social media posts where we can always paint
our lives to be perfect. I encourage you to be different. To make the decision, each
day, to put your mask down, wipe that fake smile off
your face, and be real. Maybe talk to your friends about
all the job rejections you had. Before posting on
LinkedIn about how “blessed and excited” you are
to start the one job that actually worked out. And again, friends. It isn’t easy. But let me tell you,
it is so worth it. In the words of Canadian
writer Atticus Poetry. “The hardest step
we all must take is to blindly trust in who we are.” Because in the end, our
scars, our struggles, our insecurities have made
us into who we are today. The world doesn’t need a
cheap plastic-mask version of yourself. It need the real,
authentic version of you. The real you. So University of
Wisconsin-Madison Class of 2019. Let’s show the world what
it’s like to be real. Because that’s one way
we CAN change this world. Thank you. [ Applause ] But before I go, we wanted
to do something special to celebrate our graduation. And would you look at that. We’re about three-quarters of
the way through the ceremony. And that can only
mean one thing. Hit it, Bucky! [ Music ] [ Cheering ]>>I’m got to catch my breath! [Laughter] Thank you, Ron, for your thoughtful
and honest remarks. And thank you for a chance
to participate in Jump Around one last time
here at Camp Randall. This is my last graduation here,
so it’s bittersweet for me. [ Applause ] At this point in our program, I’m pleased to acknowledge
those bachelor degree candidates who have distinguished
themselves scholastically. By ranking in the top 20%
of their school or college or by participating
in the honors program. These students are
attired with honors stoles. Solid cardinal red, or
white with red chevrons. I would like these students
to stand and have you join me in recognizing their
achievements. [ Applause ] Candidates may be seated. We’re now at the moment of
conferring bachelor’s degrees. Let me call upon Kathryn
VandenBosch, Dean of the College of Agricultural and
Life Sciences.>>Candidates for bachelor’s
degrees in the College of Agricultural and Life
Sciences will please rise. [ Applause ] Chancellor Blank. Dean VandenBosch.>>On the recommendation of
the faculty of the College of Agricultural and
Life Sciences, I present these candidates
for the following degrees. Bachelor of Science. Bachelor of Science-Agricultural
Business Management. Bachelor of Science-Biological
Systems Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Dietetics. Bachelor of Science-Landscape
Architecture. Candidates may be seated. [ Applause ]>>I now call upon
Barry Gerhart, Dean of the School of Business.>>Candidates for bachelor’s
degrees in the School of Business will please rise. [ Applause ] Chancellor Blank.>>Dean Gerhart.>>On the recommendation of
the faculty of the School of Business, I present
these candidates for the degree Bachelor of
Business Administration. Candidates may be seated. [ Applause ]>>I now call upon Diana Hess,
Dean of the School of Education.>>Candidates for bachelor’s
degrees in the School of Education will please rise. Chancellor Blank.>>Dean Hess. On recommendation of the faculty
of the School of Education. I present these candidates
for the following degrees. Bachelor of Fine Arts. Bachelor of Science-Art. Bachelor of Science–
Art Education. Bachelor of Science,
Athletic Training. Bachelor of Science-Dance. Bachelor of Science-Education. Bachelor of Science-Education
studies. Bachelor of Science-Kinesiology. Bachelor of Science-Physical
Education. Bachelor of Science-Rehabilitation
Psychology. And Bachelor of Science-Theater
and Drama. Candidates may be seated. [ Applause ]>>I now call upon
Ian Robertson, Dean of the College
of Engineering.>>Candidates for bachelor’s
degrees in the College of Engineering will please rise. [ Applause ] Chancellor Blank.>>Dean Robertson.>>On the recommendation
of the faculty of the College of Engineering. I present these candidates
for the following degrees. Bachelor of Naval Science,
Bachelor of Science– Biomedical Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Chemical
Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Civil
Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Computer
Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Electrical
Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Engineering
Mechanics. Bachelor of Science-Engineering
Physics. Bachelor of Science-Geological
Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Industrial
Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Material
Science and Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Mechanical
Engineering. Bachelor of Science-Nuclear
Engineering. Candidates may be seated. [ Applause ]>>I now call upon Soyeon Shim, Dean of the School
of Human Ecology.>>Candidates for bachelor’s
degree in the School of Human Ecology
will please rise. [ Applause ] Chancellor Blank.>>Dean Shim.>>On the recommendation
of the faculty of the School of Human Ecology. I present these candidates
for the following degrees. Bachelor of Science-Community
and Nonprofit Leadership. Bachelor of Science-Human
Development and Family Studies. Bachelor of Science-Human
Ecology. Bachelor of Science-Interior
architecture. Bachelor of Science-Personal
Finance. Bachelor of Science-Retail
and Consumer Behavior. Bachelor of Science-Textiles
and Fashion Design. Candidates may be seated. [ Applause ]>>I now call upon Karl
Scholz, Dean of the College of Letters and Science.>>Candidates for bachelor’s
degrees in the College of Letters and Science
will please rise. Chancellor Blank.>>Dean Scholz.>>On the recommendation of
the faculty of the College of Letters and Sciences. I present these candidates
for the following degrees. Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor
of Arts Journalism. Bachelor of Landscape
Architecture. Bachelor of Music. Bachelor of Science. Bachelor of Science-Applied
Mathematics, Engineering, and Physics. Bachelor of Science-Journalism. And Bachelor of Social Work. Candidates please be seated. [ Applause ]>>I now will call
upon Linda Scott. Dean of the School of Nursing.>>Candidates for the
bachelor’s degree in the School of Nursing will please rise. [ Cheering and Applause ] Chancellor Blank.>>Dean Scott. Sorry. [Laughter] Oh. [Laughter] We’re all excited! On the recommendation of
the faculty of the School of Nursing, I present
these candidates for the degree Bachelor
of Science-Nursing. Candidates may be seated. [ Applause and Cheering ]>>I now call upon
Steve Swanson, Dean of the School of Pharmacy.>>Candidates for the
bachelor’s degrees in the School of Pharmacy, all 22 of
them, will please rise. [Laughter] [ Applause ] Chancellor Blank.>>Dean Swanson.>>On the recommendation of
the faculty of the School of Pharmacy, I present
these candidates. For the degree Bachelor of Science-Pharmacology
and Toxicology. Candidates may cheer
and be seated. [ Applause and Cheering ]>>At this time, I’m going to ask all bachelor’s degree
candidates to please stand for the conferral of degrees. [ Applause ] On the recommendation
of the faculty and under the authority
granted by the University of Wisconsin System
Board of Regents. You will be each admitted
to the degree appropriate to the courses you
have completed. Congratulations to
the Class of 2019! [ Applause ] Class of 2019, you have
now made the transition from students to alumni. Tradition dictates that
before degree conferral, candidates are going
to wear their tassel. On the right side
of the mortar board. After commencement, to symbolize
your status as graduates, your tassel is worn on the left. This is the moment
to move your tassels. [ Cheering and Applause ] Congratulations to everyone! [ Applause ] You may all be seated. In a moment, our
celebration will end with the singing of Varsity. After Varsity, please remain
standing until the stage party and the faculty processional
have all gone all the way down the aisle. Congratulations to
all of our graduates. And again, thanks to the family
and friends whose support and encouragement made
this day possible. Good luck to each
and every one of you. And On, Wisconsin! [ Applause ] Please join Professor Leckrone and the University Band
in singing Varsity. [ Band Playing ] [ Cheering ] [ Music and Cheering ] [ Band Playing ]

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