Commencement speakers inspire graduates with gratitude
More than 350 students received graduate and undergraduate degrees from UW-River Falls at commencement held Dec. 20 at the Robert P. Knowles Physical Education and Recreation Center.
The ceremony focused on the importance of education in a rapidly changing world as well as the importance of being thankful for all one has.
Chancellor Connie Foster welcomed the crowd, taking time to acknowledge not only the students, but also their family and friends for the sacrifices made to ensure the graduates' educational success.
The 2008 UW-RF Distinguished Alumnus Sang Hahn gave the keynote address. Hahn mentioned the current economic downturn and talked about his own economic struggles immigrating to the United States in the 1970s, as well as the success he eventually achieved in real estate.
Hahn credited his success to his perseverance during hard times and encouraged the graduates to push on even when times seem tough.
"If I were to give you advice, it would be to act. When you see opportunity, don't just think, but act. People who reach their goal are the ones who challenge and act on their thought, and don¹t give up," Hahn said.
Born in Japanese-occupied Korea in 1938, Hahn moved to the United States in 1973 to make a better life for his wife and three children.
After graduating from UW-RF with a Master of Science in agricultural economics, he settled in Silicon Valley and invested in an apartment complex.
Hahn worked 16-hour days to make the complex a success and was eventually able to sell it for a large profit. He then began to use the same formula to succeed in other real estate ventures, all the while giving back to institutions and causes that helped him as well as to those in need.
Hahn stressed to the graduates the importance of being grateful for all those who have helped them succeed.
"Be grateful for people who teach you, who show you kindness and who share vision," he advised.
The 2008 Distinguished Teacher Travis Tubré also spoke at the ceremony. Tubré talked about how students inspire teachers and mentioned several UW-RF students who inspire him. He also spoke about how it is important to enjoy life.
"Giving back is important, but I also think it's important that we leave the world feeling like we have taken more out of life than it has taken out of us," Tubré told the crowd.
Tubré has been an associate professor in UW-RF's psychology department since 2001. He teaches courses in numerous areas including general psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, psychological testing, research methods, and employee selection and training.
In addition to his role as teacher, Tubré has served the UW-RF community in several other ways. He advises several student groups and has served various committees. He has also received awards for his advising, including the outstanding mentor for the UW-RF McNair Scholars program.
Tubré also is a consultant and researcher, studying topics such as team-based training and employee testing. His research efforts have received awards from several professional associations and universities, and he has been invited to present at venues such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Tubré holds a master's degree and doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from Texas A&M University.
The UW-RF Outstanding Service Award was presented to Bailey Nurseries, Inc. and Michael Beyer of Eaton Corporation. Bailey Nurseries has supported UW-RF horticulture students for more than 30 years, providing internships, donations and guest lecturers. It is also the commercial propagator of the Lydecker Plum developed by UW-RF Plant and Earth Science Professor Brian Smith.
Beyer has secured numerous donations from the Eaton Corporation for UW-RF's agricultural engineering technology program and the university's laboratory farms, as well as supported various student competitions and research projects.
Faculty Senate Chair and UW-RF Chemistry Professor David Rainville and Student Senate President Cindy Bendix of Sturtevant, also congratulated the graduates on their achievement.
Degrees were conferred by Bradley Caskey, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Dale Gallenberg, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; Brian Schultz, dean of the College of Business and Economics; Faye Perkins, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies; and Douglas Johnson, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs/director of graduate studies.
Accompanied by the River Falls Brass, Scott Perau, a graduating senior and music major from River Falls, sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and the "UW-River Falls Pledge Song" to begin and end the ceremony.