UW-Superior grads urged to 'venture into the wild'Nearly 350 students received associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Superior on Saturday.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Attending her daughter’s college commencement was a unique experience for Kim Cady of Washburn.
Her daughter Kayla Deperry, 22, is the first in the family to go through college, Cady explained as she awaited Saturday’s ceremony at the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s Wessman Arena.
“I am super proud, emotional … proud,” Cady said while sitting in a block of family members who came to cheer Deperry on. Cady has been cheering her on for a long time.
“I talked to her about, don’t do what I did. Go to school, go to school,” Cady said.
Deperry, who earned her bachelor’s degree in art therapy, was among 342 students to receive associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degrees from UWS on Saturday. She was far from alone in being the first in the family to get a degree. Chancellor Renee Wachter said 44 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to go to college.
It was also an international group. More than 30 flags lining the arena stage represented the native countries of the graduates or countries in which they studied. Graduates were listed from China, Honduras, Japan, France, South Korea, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and three Canadian provinces.
Among them was Kyle Leahy, 25, of Fort St. John, British Columbia, who played hockey for the UWS Yellowjackets.
Leahy, who earned his degree in transportation and logistics management, will move to Calgary to work in his field and continue playing hockey, he said. He’s leaving Superior with mixed feelings.
“It’s been a great four years and it’s a bittersweet feeling leaving,” Leahy said. “It’s good to go, but it’s sad to leave. I had a great time.”
Saturday’s keynote speaker represented both the international and the first-in-college elements. His parents left Cuba in 1967 “with nothing but the clothes on their backs, a 5-year-old son and a suitcase,” he told the graduates. They settled in New Jersey, and when his parents and younger sister drove to Superior in 1984 to see him graduate it was “the first time my family set foot on a college campus.”
“It was here that I discovered that Cubans can not only survive but flourish on the frozen tundra,” he joked. “I’m pretty sure I was the first Cuban to go ice fishing and live to talk about it.”
As a UWS graduate, Hernandez went into broadcasting and succeeded quickly, becoming sales manager at CBS Radio Networks and then vice president and general manager of ESPN Latin America before co-founding his own business, Latino Broadcasting Co.
But he didn’t urge the graduates to seek material success. Instead, he encouraged them to practice empathy, to have a sense of urgency and to get beyond their comfort zones.
“Society wants us to be quiet, to follow the rules,” Hernandez said. “I implore you to fight back … Step outside and venture into the wild.”