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Wish You Were Here: Graduation

Spare a thought for the UW–Madison Class of 2020: they will graduate, but won’t commence. For the first time in the UW’s history, commencement has been postponed, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, the class may never get to celebrate its achievement together.

"Long live al the magic we made" message on a graduation cap

Spare a thought for the UW–Madison Class of 2020: they will graduate, but won’t commence. For the first time in the UW’s history, commencement has been postponed, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, the class may never get to celebrate its achievement together.

We’d like you to help give the Class of ’20 some second hand memories, in solidarity for their lost moment in the sun. So tell them: what was your graduation like? Do you remember the heat (or the snow — we’re looking at you, Class of ’16)? Where did you go to celebrate? Did you carb up at Mickies or have a craft brew at the Great Dane one last time (or, you know, last-ish)? Did your grandparents, aunts, and uncles come to Madison, or did you celebrate with the roommate to whom you swore eternal friendship and never saw again?

Send us your memory or tag your posts #WhereBadgersBelong. (Include photos, please!) We’ll add them to this scrapbook.


Mai Lee with Well Red statue

As a first-generation college student, I did not have the typical college experience. I did not live in dorms- i lived with my parents. I did not join student orgs. I had to work at the UW hospital from 3pm until midnight as a CNA. I did not have or make any friends- none of my friends went to college or they already graduated...I even lost friends during college because I had no free time to spend with them. College was not fun for me- I would bus one hour in the morning to school or drive if I woke up late from being exhausted from work, which means I had to find and pay for parking. I was in college for six years because I worked so much to pay for my bills, I only went part time so I could keep up my grades. But when I look back...oh man, I am so proud of myself. The blood, sweat and tears I went through was SO worth it. I have never loved myself more than when I put on that cap and gown. College is not just learning academics. Heck, I probably have a million grammar mistakes in this short essay. It is about learning persistence and patience. It is learning how strong you can be when you are experiencing hardships and loneliness. You learn about yourself and realize how many stars you can reach. You take these learning moments and you bring it into the working world. And believe me, you will be amazing at your job. Have confidence in yourself. Work hard. Have faith. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Mai Lee ‘19

As a Music Major, I had the opportunity to play in the Commencement Band, and even get paid for it. So I did. Because Vice President [Walter] Mondale was the guest speaker, the Secret Service had agents all over the place, and had to inspect every instrument case we brought to perform. They became quite agitated and angry when they discovered the reed knives that are very common to oboists and bassoonists, used for making endless adjustments to their reeds. They confiscated them (some are quite expensive) and threatened to prevent the entire band from going on the field of Camp Randall. Gene Corporan, the director of the band, managed to calm them down and let us go on. I still don't know if they returned the knives!
Clayton Browne ‘80

The rooftop of the Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences Building is #WhereBadgersBelong on Graduation Day. Despite daily classes in the AOS Building for the 2nd half of my undergrad experience, nothing beat inviting my parents to the rooftop for a celebration on Graduation Day.
Kari Stokosa ‘99

I graduated on December 19, 1982, and our ceremony was in the Field House. I remember walking across the stage and hearing my name called as I received my diploma. But I remember my mom being so upset at all the students for popping champagne bottles during the reading of the names. She thought this was so disrespectful. As a graduate, I thought it was fun to see everyone celebrate and didn't really notice the popping. This was just another fun tradition at UW-Madison. On Wisconsin!
Sue Whiting Yajko ‘82

Graduating on a cold December day in 2014, but still made it up on Abe's lap!
Lauren Swance ‘14

My mom was very sick with cancer, but she and my dad were at my graduation along with several of my folks’ long-time friends. I also received my commission in the USAF, and I was getting married on Oct. 1, 1955. I was thrilled that I would be a Badger for the rest of my life. On, Wisconsin.
James Meinberg ‘55

I graduated from the UW School of Pharmacy in 1978. At the end of commencement in Camp Randall Stadium the UW band played 'The Bud Song'. Yes, "When you say WISCONSIN, you've said it all!" What a great finale to many years of study!!!
James Rinehart ‘78

I was honored to be selected to give the address for the January graduation along with Justice Douglas on the topic of civic responsibility. The last sentence of that resonates today: "One of the measures of civic maturity we must each possess is the ability to entertain the tensions between harsh reality and winsome hope and to work, ever increasingly to bring the real more nearly to the ideal." It was an honor to work with Justice Douglas on the subject. The great reward at the receiving line came from Dr. David Fellman: "Not bad!"
John Hall ‘58

‌I remember the huge number of people graduating that day, June 3, 1972, at Camp Randall Stadium. We had hundreds in the School of Education. We filed across the stage and received our empty diploma cover. We were introduced as the School of Education; no individual names announced.
Dolores Jones ‘72

I took my last exam, went to work and life went on. I never heard about photos for a yearbook (or even a yearbook!) nor had any notification of graduation events. No gown, ceremony, party, yearbook ... nothing. Was there even one in the spring of 1972?
Paul Darbo ‘72

My husband, David, and I were married the summer after our sophomore year. It took us three more years to graduate with our BS degrees (both with honors). The ceremony was held in Camp Randall on a beautiful sunny day. Afterwards we joined our parents for a picnic at Tenney Park. Dave went on to get his MS and PhD from UW and ultimately taught there also. We are Badgers through and through.
Margaret Mezera ‘64

Memorial Union with students and family who are now gone and I miss dearly. My favorite professor Mark O’ Pease attended and he was my inspiration as a student. I still think of him to this day and all of the support and encouragement he gave me. I have a daughter who is a proud virtual graduate celebrating tomorrow who is a Material Science engineer and a daughter who is an IMACC masters prepared grad from 2019. I have enjoyed every opportunity to visit the most beautiful campus and am so thankful for our wonderful university. #proudBadger4ever! #WhereBadgersBelong s/o to Christa Close, my awesome nursing roomie!
Michelle Proehl ‘86

I graduated in August 1986 as a proud UW Madison nurse. We had a very small and meaningful ceremony at the I was planning to graduate at the end of the summer in Camp Randall, but the ceremony was cancelled so they could put new AstroTurf in the stadium. So my memory did not happen until I attended the Graduation at my 50th Class Reunion! It was great!
John Henderson ‘68

I graduated in 1986 with bachelor of science degrees, a double major of Psychology (Animal Behavior) and Zoology. Amazingly enough both are under Letters and Science. The pomp and ceremony of graduation was entertaining but long with all the schools plus Graduate degrees and PHD folks in attendance and all collecting their certificates individually in a march across a large stage. My parents and two of my siblings came to share in the festivities. All was fine and went smoothly including the theatrics of a number of my co-graduates at the podium but the day was summed up as I returned to my place in the bleachers and caught sight of the small sign designating our section. When everything was done and people were clearing the stadium for continued celebrations, I collected that sign and presented it to my father with the statement, "See Dad, after all the years of studies in college, I'm now a BS General!" I still have the sign on my wall to remind me of my accomplishments.
Bill Pentler ‘86

Among happy memories of my 1954 UW graduation is the discomfort of wearing my Army lieutenant's uniform under my gown. We ROTC graduates were commissioned as officers in the commencement ceremonies. We only had winter uniforms and it was a very warm sunny afternoon at Camp Randall.
Jack Harned ’54

Undergrads at Camp Randall, not "organized" so that when your school or college was called you'd just go on stage with no name mentioned. And they invited parents up as well so that I got my diploma cover, shook Irv Shain's hand, and turned around to see my dad standing right next to Ann Landers who was getting an honorary degree. Great morning!
Tom Werlein ’85

‌This may have been the first mid term graduation and I was there. Congratulations to my grandson, Benjamin Barmore, graduating May 2020
Donald Barmore ’63

Watching my son graduate last year from the College of Engineering and having JJ Watt as Commencement Speaker, such an incredible day! So sorry this years Seniors cannot experience the same. Congratulations to the #UWCLASS2020 for a job well done!!????????????????
Kathryn Wahner

In 1979, George HW Bush was the graduation speaker. His opening line mentioned walking around campus that morning, not knowing what he would say—because when you say Wisconsin, you’ve said it all! Then he went on to give a very dry campaign stump speech about the SALT II treaty. It was memorable to see all of his secret service men surrounding the podium, armed with tennis racquets and ready to bat away any errant frisbees that were being tossed around in the stands at Camp Randall.
Ann Drivas ’79, MS’85

From left, Prakhar Panwaria, master's of computer science, celebrates with relatives Monica Bansal and toddler Aliya following UW-Madison's spring commencement ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on May 17, 2014. The graduation event was held outdoors at Camp Randall for the first time in more than two decades, and attended by approximately 5,400 bachelor's and master's degree candidates and their guests. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Singing Varsity! Also gives me the good kind of chills.
Ashley Baeten ’08

My mom bummed I didn't get the official picture with the dean handing me the cover ... so I just went back through the next year
Jen Clough ’89

It rained for my 1962 graduation so we were all in the red gym.
Jane Doherty ’62

Snow on graduation day ❄️
Katie Wollenweber ’16

Two graduations in January 1962 and 1965. Really COLD ????
R. Oak Dowling ’62, LLB’65

It was really hot in 1985.
Mark Bartels ’85

I too, wasn't on the BIG stage. Sitting in bleachers watching, but deliriously HAPPY to see classmates walk the stage for graduation after 6 long summers ( crazy 1969+and 1 semester getting my Information science /school library degree ! Broke and job hunting, but the UW atmosphere carried me. Thank you, Dr. Charles Bunge , what a leader, for UW.
Henrietta Lowery ’72

I was fortunate to graduate with my brother, Peter, in 1981. Peter, a former UW Football Player, and I hung around after the ceremony to walk on the turf and take some shots. Great memory. Our sister, Annie, graduated from Madison in '79, along with a couple of cousins in '80 and '81. Rich history with UW. Two of Annie's kids graduated at Madison as well in the 2010's.
Michael Shalbrack ’81

I graduated UW in 1961, 59 years ago. How would I have reacted to hearing from a graduate of the class of 1902 -- 59 years before me? Probably with little attention! But maybe I should have. My main UW memory is "Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found." My main message to graduates: Don't forget to vote!
Louis Friedman ’61

Graduation was outdoors in the football stadium and spectator faced the morning sun. My fiancée was wearing a V-necked blouse (or dress) and the sun tan lasted all summer. Our wedding was August 22, and the bride’s dress had a scoop neck that was a constant reminder of my graduation.
Richard Branum MS’59

Flag bearers make their way down the center aisle during UW-Madison's spring commencement ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on May 13, 2017. The outdoor graduation is expected to be attended by more than 6,000 bachelor's and master's degree candidates, and their guests. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

A disquieting feeling overwhelmed me as I accompanied my parents for a last walk up Bascom Hill on the way to Camp Randall and my long-awaited graduation ceremony. The entire hill was covered in white crosses in honor and memory of all the precious lives lost in the Vietnam War. Thus, one of the most exciting days of my life was mingled with an overwhelming sense of sadness.
Joan Jacobson ’68

1995 graduation. Camp Randall. With my folks.
Rob Schroeder ’95

Andre De Shields starting out the commencement address by singing.
Kris Johnson ’07

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