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Alumni award honorees share words of advice for new grads


This December's UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association honorees have done a few things right since earning their degrees from UW-Eau Claire. They are award winners, after all.

But they didn't achieve their goals without a few missteps here and there, and — this is key — learning from them. Below, for the benefit of UW-Eau Claire's newest graduates, these award-winning Blugolds share some of the wisdom gained from valuable experiences. (Learn more about the alumni award honorees.)

Sean Carey ’07, bachelor’s degree in music

Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award recipient

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Sean Carey

Advice to new Blugold alumni: My advice for students and newest graduates of UW-Eau Claire is put yourself out there. Go with your gut. Pursue your passion. And even when things don’t turn out exactly how you imagined, continue to pursue what makes you happy. In one way or another, things in life will fall in place as they are intended to.

Joseph Webb Jr. ’11, master’s degree in education-professional development

Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award recipient

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Joseph Webb Jr.

Advice to new Blugold alumni: My first message is to love what you do and do what you love and have a true passion for. The second message is to not be afraid of failure. It is a part of life and can make you stronger and can influence your future path. The third message is to think broadly, creatively and carefully about your long-term goals, and seek advice and mentoring from multiple individuals with experience in the areas of your interest. The fourth message is to develop friends that share your values. You will find them to become lifelong friends. Finally, do not underestimate the influence you can have on others. At the end of the day, the only things that matter are what you do for other people, how you help them and how you inspire them.

Nancy Rice Baker ’66, bachelor’s degree in music education

Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award recipient

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Nancy Rice Baker

Advice to new Blugold alumni: The UW-Eau Claire Foundation centennial campaign theme, "The Power of Possible," is played out in every imaginable way by our alumni, so treasure your time at UW-Eau Claire, be yourself, be unique and don't be surprised that you are well equipped to deal with almost anything you encounter in life.

Mark Faanes ’79, bachelor’s degree in business administration

Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award recipient

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Mark Faanes

Advice to new Blugold alumni: Let me tell you a secret as you enter the adult world: UW-Eau Claire will have you totally prepared for that day in most all aspects of life. In my case it was a business degree, but I have no doubt the same is true if you are graduating in nursing, education, music or whatever the degree.

Believe it or not, I will always remember the speech our former late, great Chancellor Leonard Haas delivered to my orientation group way back in the summer of 1975 in the large hall in Hibbard. He told us there were many reasons to be entering UW-Eau Claire, and he mentioned a few of those, but he said the most important reason was simply to become better educated and make yourself a better human being in the process. I have always remembered his remarks that day, and some years later at a civic event I got a chance to thank him for those. You see, even way back then, "Excellence" was not just a simple motto, it meant something on this campus. This place will prepare you for whatever adventures lie ahead for you. You are a better human being as you set out from this place. So be confident, enjoy the ride and be proud to be a Blugold.

Jeffrey Cote ’64, bachelor of business administration degree

President's Award recipient

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Jeffrey Cote

Advice to new Blugold alumni: I tend to be a "doer" rather than a "thinker," so to share wisdom is a stretch. I did find that if you work hard and dedicate yourself to your job, in most cases it will be noticed and subsequently rewarded.

David Baker

Honorary Alumnus Award recipient

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Dr. David Baker

Advice to new Blugold alumni: Take full advantage of all the academic experiences you have received. UW-Eau Claire has not only given you the skills and knowledge to be successful in your chosen career, but it also has provided many other opportunities for intellectual and personal growth, including a well-planned liberal education program and numerous other experiences, including research and creative projects, cultural immersion, and exposure to the thoughts and ideas of a world-class faculty. In a rapidly changing world, the ability to make intelligent, consequential choices is more challenging and more important than ever. Your ability to connect and integrate all that you have learned and experienced during your college years will encourage an appetite for lifelong learning and also lay the foundation for a thoughtful and empathetic world view.

Edmund Manydeeds III

Honorary Alumnus Award recipient

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Edmund Manydeeds III

Advice to new Blugold alumni: When I started my career, I had the impression that I had to know everything about the legal profession in order to be successful. Naturally, that is a scary feeling because you know you don’t know everything. After butting my head against the wall for a few years, I realized that other lawyers were willing to mentor me; judges would give you advice if you asked them; and the clerk of courts office was an invaluable place to receive information. All of this made my life much easier. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you have to know everything when you start a job. There is a natural progression to things. Experience counts for a lot, mentoring is invaluable, and seeking out people who have knowledge that can assist you is a good move.

Rudy Pereira

Honorary Alumnus Award recipient

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Rudy Pereira

Advice to new Blugold alumni: My advice to new graduates is that it’s OK not to know how your life story will unfold by graduation; it will take twists and turns. Never stop learning. I have been a voracious learner throughout my life and continue to learn and enjoy the process of continual learning. Never give up! Some people call it “grit” — to persevere and stick to your beliefs when it gets difficult. That’s not to say you won’t take different paths and jobs in your career, but be in the present and give it your all. It will get noticed and it will toughen you in marvelous ways as you move on in your career, making you humble and resilient.

I think by far I wish I had known I didn’t need to rush. I often felt behind where I wanted to be in my career. Upon graduating there is so much time ahead for you, so keep your options open and unless you are in a discipline knowing exactly what you are going to do for the next 30-plus years, enjoy trying different things and by all means, don’t do something just for money — money will come when you are doing something you have a passion and purpose for and to which you are ready to commit much of your life.

Tim and Sue Rogge

Honorary Alumnus Award recipients

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Sue and Tim Rogge

Advice to new Blugold alumni: Scientists have recently learned that there are more than 2,000 billion galaxies in the known universe — each with hundreds of millions of stars. You know what? Maybe we shouldn’t take stuff too seriously, or inflate our own sense of self-importance.

We are 68 years old. Here are a few things we’ve learned:

Not everybody has an equal chance.  Intelligence, economic advantage, country of origin, family background, educational opportunity — those things are not equally distributed, not equally shared. Sitting here, having earned a college degree, you may be deeply in debt, but you are also among the privileged elite of the world. We hope that you will look with kindness on the weak and the powerless, and treat them with dignity and compassion. Personally, we believe that the better off we all are, the better off we all are. 

Look for the goodness in people. It takes remarkably little talent or effort to make others feel better about themselves.

Have you seen that meme “I thought that growing old would take longer”? It would be hilarious except that it’s true. In the words of Jack Aubrey, one of Tim’s favorite fictional characters, “There is not a moment to lose.”  Whether it be in your career, in your personal relationships, in your recreation time, in your rest, in your prayer — live your life with intent.


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