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Alumni award honorees share words of advice for new grads

This winter'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.)

Jane Trimble Johanos ’76, bachelor’s degree in nursing

Lifetime Excellence Award

Jane

Jane "JJ" Trimble Johanos

Set out to create the “you” you want to be, because that which you consciously envision and set your sights on is what you will most likely become. Make decisions that add value to your life and to the lives of others, never compromising your integrity. Demonstrate honor and respect for those who have preceded you and know that someday you too will be “in the past,” so have no regrets. You live this life only once; create your life and choose to make it count.

Timothy J. Murphy ’76, bachelor’s degree in marketing

Lifetime Excellence Award

Timothy J. Murphy

Timothy J. Murphy

Let the path take you to your dreams rather than predefining them. Taking the uncertain route creates the greatest opportunity for mistakes and the biggest opportunity to learn from them. Follow that unknown path wherever it leads you because it is the journey that you will remember forever, not the destination. You’ll be happy where the road takes you, wherever that may be.

Kristie Franz '95, bachelor’s degree in geology

President's Award

Kristie Franz

Kristie Franz

Your major in college and your first jobs do not have to define your entire professional career. It is OK if you do not know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Use college as a time to set yourself onto a path with options, learn to be open to opportunities, and accept that you will always be learning.

Andrew Neesley '03, bachelor’s degree in music

President's Award

Andrew Neesley

Andrew Neesley

Find a balance of trusting your hard work and looking for new answers to old questions. Also, be kind to each other. All the relationships you've made at UW-Eau Claire will follow you. You'll call on your friends for favors, they'll call on you. You'll grow old together. It's beautiful. 

Johnny Washington '81, bachelor’s degree in business administration

President's Award

Johnny Washington

Johnny Washington

Don't get discouraged if can't find your job of choice. It only means another door will open. 2. Don't be afraid to make mistakes — you can learn from them. 3. Be positive and productive, and ask questions.

David Whitman '05, bachelor's degree in music

President's Award

David Whitman

David Whitman

Imagine and embrace your own vision, and then see that vision through to fruition. Make sure that the vision includes excellence — the same excellence emblazoned on the seal of the very fine University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Understand that the successful pursuit of that vision will include failures and moments of struggle that will become essential stepping-stones on your way to success, and make sure to take time to reflect in moments of struggle to move forward in the right direction. Challenge yourself to be the best version of yourself, to act with integrity and to do right by others as well as by yourself. Understand that living your vision means walking your own path, being creative (which usually means working tirelessly to create something), thinking “outside of the box,” and — most importantly — trusting in yourself when you know it can be done but others do not. Do not hide your light or live down to others’ expectations; shine your light and live up to your own imagination. Mozart and Beethoven created masterpieces differently, but both created masterpieces and each embraced their own vision.

Bridget Osborn '08, bachelor's degree in geology

Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award

Bridget Osborn

Bridget Osborn

All the knowledge we have is built from our experiences. Take every opportunity to learn what you can. Even if it doesn’t directly apply to your career goals, it may be relevant to a future client, co-worker, friend or family member. Network, network, network. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you’ll have.

Abigail Zimmer '07, bachelor’s degree in English-creative writing

Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award

Abigail Zimmer

Abigail Zimmer

The writing advice that has most influenced me is “Write what you want to read,” which I think is applicable to any field. In other words, is there a program, community, artwork, code, study, etc. you wish to see? Create the space to do the work you want to do. And be gentle with yourself. Your interests, desires and career path will evolve. Times of loss and heartbreak may require you to slow down. Keep returning to what gives you life. Most likely, someone else needs the work you're doing, too.