UW-W grads told to be confident, optimistic, kind

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Sunday, May 13, 2012
— A 1982 graduate who overcame a so-so academic background called upon undergraduate students receiving degrees Saturday at UW-Whitewater to be confident, optimistic, hard-working and kind to others.

Andrew D. Burish, 54, who earned an MBA from Whitewater and holds the credential of certified investment management analyst from Wharton School of Business, started his secondary education career with a high school grade- point average of 2.2 and a class rank in the middle of 440 students.

“What I lacked in IQ I made up for in EQ, emotional quotient,” Burish said. “I wasn’t the smartest in class, but I was the hardest working.”

Burish, a first-generation college student, is managing director of UBS Financial Services. He leads the Burish Group, a team of 40 investment professionals with offices in Madison, Milwaukee and the Chicago area. The group manages more than $2.1 billion in client assets.

The 1,136 graduates heard Burish explain the guiding principles that led him to success.

“You need to be confident,” he said. “I don’t mean arrogant, but be quietly confident. And that comes from some failures. You can’t be afraid of failure. I took my entrance exam to Wharton three times before I passed it.”

That confidence comes from goal setting, Burish said.

“Create a dream list of goals—review and update it often,” he said. “Being a country-western singer is no longer on my list, but I can still do a mean karaoke.”

Optimism is essential to success, Burish said.

“I have never met a successful pessimist,” he said. “A Harvard study concluded that goal -setters earn 2.5 times what non goal-setters make, and goal-setters who write down their goals and keep a list earn 10 times that much.”

His third principal is work hard while being kind to others.

“There are those who have not been as fortunate as we have,” he said. “Always look out for the poor and downtrodden.”

At UW-W, Burish, his wife, Anna, and their daughter, Raquel, have endowed a scholarship for first-generation students planning to teach in urban areas.

Burish, the commencement keynote speaker, and student speaker Justin Nothem share the confidence and hard work Burish said is necessary to become successful in business.

“You probably know me by my other name, ‘The Hot Dog Man,’’’ Nothem said. “My stand, Whitewater Wieners, is on the corner of Whitewater and Second, and we open at 3 p.m. No plug intended”

Nothem said his experiences at UW-Whitewater, the good and the bad, will always be a part of him.

“I’ll never forget when the boiler broke down and we took cold showers the month of April,” he said. “I’ll always remember getting stuck in the snowstorm on the way to Salem, Va., to watch the championship football game, but we will all remember the incredible national championships we share.”

“Hot Dog Man” urged his fellow graduates to “reach for the top and go and get it with no excuses.”

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Richard Telfer said most UW-Whitewater graduates come from an 80-mile radius of the campus, but there also are graduates from 30 countries.

“We have here today 114 nontraditional students and 28 veterans,” he said. “The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater welcomes both traditional and nontraditional students.”

There were 113 graduates from Rock County and 91 from Walworth County.

Amy Maria Holevas, an accounting major from Beloit, said her greatest achievement was being a founding member of a local chapter of the Gamma Alpha Omega sorority. She will continue working at UW-Whitewater as a lead technician in the Letters and Sciences marketing lab.

Katie Kazmierski of East Troy will use her degree in operational and supply chain management at her new job with We Energies in Milwaukee. She has been hired as a commodity specialist.

“Being able to complete my degree in four years was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had here,” she said.

Janesville’s Katka Showers-

Curtis has had a variety of rewarding experiences since she graduated from Craig in 2006. She studied for a year in Slovakia as a Rotary International student before enrolling at UW-Whitewater in 2007.

“I’ve been here at Whitewater five years, but I have three majors and a minor in addition to my work with several activities,” she said.

Showers-Curtis majored in English, gender studies and central and eastern European studies. She was active in PEACE (Peace, Education and Activism Through Creative Engagement), Take Back the Night to fight sexual assaults and the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization. She was active in the Janesville Fife and Drum Corps and received a McGraw Award for student excellence.

Last updated: 8:36 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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