Skip to main content
COVID-19 updates from UW-Eau Claire   READ MORE »

Alumni award honorees share words of advice for new grads

This spring'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.)

Shaughnessy Murphy

Shaughnessy Murphy

Shaughnessy Murphy ’06, bachelor’s degree in business finance

Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award

At graduation you will be filled with inspiration and lofty quotes about how you are now prepared to take on the world. Forget all that noise and remember this: Timing is everything. Throughout your life things will sometimes work out in your favor and other times they will not. If you focus on controlling what you can control and capitalizing on opportunities when they arise, you will win more days than not. Put simply, timing is everything. I hope you took advantage of your time at UW-Eau Claire to learn how to learn (and have fun!), and if you have, I know you are prepared to capitalize on the opportunities of life when the timing is right.

Anh-Tuyet Nguyen

Anh-Tuyet Nguyen

Anh-Tuyet Nguyen ’80, bachelor’s degree in mathematics

Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award

Work hard. Have a can-do attitude. Every problem has a solution. Do the best you can. Be kind and help others along the way.

Marcia Van Beek

Marcia Van Beek

Marcia Van Beek ’73, bachelor’s degree in social work

Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award

A liberal arts education is vital to your development as citizens and workers. Remember the importance of the broad education you receive here, and to use that education not only in your jobs, but in your daily lives as spouses, partners, parents, friends, neighbors and citizens.

Jason Craig

Jason Craig

Jason Craig ’00, bachelor’s degree in marketing;’10, master’s degree in business administration

President's Award

First, clear and honest values make for easier decisions. In looking back, I wasn't always honest with myself about what I truly valued. I was willing to adopt other values for short-term gain, but would ultimately become very unhappy. When values are honest and aligned, purpose is clear.

Second, learning never stops — this isn't your last day in class by a long shot. Reach back and help others. You didn't get here alone; don't leave others stranded.

Third, the day you say "no" to an unsolicited job offer is going to come. That's a good day.

Finally, maintain your UW Eau Claire relationships and build new ones. Blugolds have an inherent loyalty to each other.

Raymond Skwierczynski

Raymond Skwierczynski

Raymond Skwierczynski ’84, bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics

President's Award

Dream bigger! I wish I had heard this advice when I walked across the graduation stage. I thought about going to medical school, but (at the time) thought that a first-generation college graduate from a small northern Wisconsin town, whose parents were educated through the eighth grade did not belong in medical school. Instead, I was content to get a job — any job. 

I got lucky when I received a job offer in the pharmaceutical industry. I soon realized how good my UWEC education was! I began to dream bigger. My dreams kept getting bigger as my career progressed and continue to this day. It doesn't matter if you are a first-generation college graduate. It doesn't matter if you are from a small town, suburb or city. It doesn’t matter if your parents are highly educated or if they never finished high school. You have acquired an amazing set of tools at UWEC. When you dream about how you want to use them, dream bigger!

Larry Schnoor

Larry Schnoor

Larry Schnoor

Honorary Alumnus Award

Little did I know when I graduated from high school in Wells, Minnesota, that I would ever end up with a successful career as a college professor. Neither of my parents graduated from high school and both were very hard workers. They gave me the desire to go on to school, and after four years in the Navy, I finished my undergraduate work and taught at the high school level for several years. I wanted and still want to help students learn that the world is theirs to make, to be open to new ideas, to treat everyone as an equal and to work together to make this world a better place.

Jane and James Moore 2018

Jane and James Moore

Jane Webert Moore ’73, bachelor’s degree in nursing, and James Moore

Lifetime Excellence Award

Jane Moore: It’s never too late, never too early and never too often to give your time, talent and treasure to those people, institutions and organizations that have positively affected your life and the lives of those around you. Our goals and expectations should be considered in a more broad and long-term fashion, and our alternative goals viewed as possibilities, not disappointments.

James Moore: First, work as hard as you can to prepare yourself for your career, but understand that our society is changing at an accelerating pace. The impacts of technology and globalization are just beginning to modify our world in ways that are only partially understood today. Uncertainty creates stress but also opportunities if you are ready to seize them. Your ability to do that will be driven in part by your career experience but also a lifelong commitment to learning.

Nancy Fugate Woods

Nancy Fugate Woods

Nancy Fugate Woods ’68, bachelor’s degree in nursing

Lifetime Excellence Award

Throughout my career, I have been determined to try things that were beyond my “comfort zone,” such as leading interdisciplinary organizations related to nursing and women’s health, serving as the dean of my school and traveling the world to teach and learn. Don’t be afraid to try something new or risky. I discovered my capacity to learn by challenging myself, even in retirement!