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UW-Rock County students encouraged to keep learning

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Jake Magee
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

JANESVILLE—Keep learning.

Make a difference.

Never give up.

These were the overlapping, parting bits of advice speakers shared with UW-Rock County's graduating class Tuesday evening.

As clouds gathered and rain fell outside, students gathered in the campus's gymnasium for their graduation ceremony were assured their futures were bright.

Here are some scenes from the event.


One of the early-bird students was dropped off outside the campus building. Clutching her graduation cap, she sprinted inside, her gown fluttering wildly, to avoid soaking in the rain.

Inside, music spilled from a room as a quintet practiced its songs one last time.

“Are you excited?” a teacher said to a passing student.

“I'm nervous,” she said with a shy smile.

In the band room across the hall, students gathered their honor cords, sashes and name cards and waited for the show to start.

Most ended up on their phones. A pair of girls sat at a piano bench, their shoes removed.

A couple others discussed what they wore beneath their gowns.

“You never wear pants,” a woman told a young male graduate.

“I don't like pants. I like shorts,” he said defiantly.


Student government President Zen Johnston doesn't necessarily want to serve in local government anytime soon, but what he learned in student government will serve his pursuit to become a doctor.

Johnston's time as president taught him the importance of working together with a group of people toward a common goal. That's important in health care when everyone's trying to work for the good of the patient, Johnston said.

"A team of six hard-working people is better than 12 hard-working people each going on their own,” he said.

Johnston will go to UW-Milwaukee to earn a bachelor's degree and plans to eventually attend medical school in Milwaukee or Madison.

Jeanne Myers was one of the oldest students to graduate Tuesday, but her age hasn't stopped her from bettering herself. With an empty nest at home, Myers decided to earn a degree.

"I decided this is the perfect time, and I've been having a blast. It hasn't been like work at all,” she said.

Myers worked full time while attending school, and it was challenging. She wants to work in the nonprofit sector.


Three people—an alumnus, a graduating student and a provost—gave speeches, and many of their words of wisdom overlapped.

Alumnus Karl Dommershausen, a Janesville School Board member, missed his first board meeting in seven years to speak at the ceremony, he told the audience.

His advice was to help others and keep learning.

“There's no easy road to this, but it's a good road,” he said.

Graduate Kathryn Keizer told students to accept failure, make a difference and continue their education in some form or another. Keizer followed her own advice by taking a history of rock 'n' roll class she thought would be a waste of time but ended up being one of her favorites.

By the time provost Greg Lampe took the stage, he realized much of what he wanted to say had already been said. Still, repetition isn't a bad thing, he said.

Lampe said graduates should always do their best, never give up and make an impact.

“At this time in our history, we need you to make a difference,” he said.

The music swelled and audience clapped as the ceremony concluded. Only one graduate threw his cap in the air to celebrate.

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