A day for dreams: UW-Whitewater celebrates largest graduating class

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
Sunday, May 16, 2010

At the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance,” they marched in.

Some looked confident, others nervous. Most displayed big smiles, which family members and friends were quick to capture with their cameras.

After years of papers, exams and academic endeavors, UW-Whitewater’s largest graduating class was done at last. Finally, they were graduates.

“Today is a major milestone in the lives of each of our graduates,” Chancellor Richard Telfer told the class of 2010 on Saturday. “You should all be extremely proud of your accomplishments.

“As you end this chapter of your life, you begin another. The lessons you have learned here have equipped you to tackle and take advantage of the many opportunities you will face in life.”

Student speaker Raymond Bamvi Fohtung, an international student from Cameroon, reminded his classmates of the importance of the people who worked to help them achieve graduation: Family members, friends, faculty, staff, custodians, police, food service workers, and others.

“Even though the story of how we came to be here in the first place may be different, we have all made it here as one class, the class of 2010,” Fohtung said.

At Telfer’s command, they marched to the stage.

“That’s my boy,” yelled a man from the fifth row as his son walks out to receive his degree.

Four rows ahead, Mari, Jerry and 19-year-old Kristine Weber of Oconomowoc waited patiently for their graduate’s name. They arrived nearly two hours before the start of the 10 a.m. ceremony to get a front-row spot. Four hours later, they watched daughter and sister Katie Weber receive a degree in social work from the chancellor.

Minutes later, Brian Witthuhn of Madison smiled at his mother, who was sitting in the second-row next to Witthuhn’s 8-year-old brother, Cole. He waved, receiving thumbs up and a big smile from his mom.

One by one, the graduates received degrees and walked back to their seats.

At the sound of Handel’s “Allegro from Water Music,” they marched out into a cloudy but bright Whitewater afternoon.

Outside, proud family members and friends waited to give them a hug and say congratulations.

Graduates. During commencement, speakers tried to describe the meaning of the word. In the end, it is up to the class of 2010 to define it.

As Fohtung put it, “whatever we do, whatever we become after this day, let us do it for somebody, for something; for our purpose is much greater and much larger than ourselves.”

Last updated: 9:48 am Monday, December 17, 2012

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