The University of Wisconsin-Superior's spring commencement is Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m. at Siinto S. Wessman Arena, 2710 Catlin Ave.

Parking is available in university lots surrounding the arena, Superior High School and adjoining city streets. Seating is available in the arena on the floor and in the stands. Handicapped seating is available.

Tickets are required for entrance. Guests who can't provide a ticket at the ceremony will be allowed to watch it live on a projection screen in the arena's Yellowjacket Room. A livestream will also be posted at https://livestream.com/AVR-Duluth/UWS2019 the day of commencement.

The following four students are among UWS graduates Saturday.

Shanghai native found world of opportunity

When Muqing Li crosses the commencement stage at Wessman Arena on Saturday, she will receive three undergraduate degrees. In four years, she will have earned bachelor's degrees in transportation and logistics management, supply chain management and international business.

She grew up in Shanghai, China, a densely populated city of more than 26 million people with temperatures that rarely dip below 38 degrees in the winter.

"It was a little intimidating, but people here were so friendly and easy to get to know," she said. "That helped a lot."

Li not only discovered new people and a new community at UWS, she also discovered a new area of study that is now her passion: transportation and logistics, and supply chain management.

She went on three study abroad trips to Poland, Scotland and Ghana, as well as several trips through the Transportation and Logistics Student Club.

Last summer, she had an internship opportunity with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in Milwaukee, where she worked on the Foxconn project. While there, she came up with a process improvement idea that was implemented.

Li said that one of the things she had to learn while in college was how to be independent.

"In China, our culture is very different. My parents planned out and took care of most everything for me, but once I got here, I had to learn how to take initiative myself and not be afraid to try new things," she said.

After graduation, Li has another paid internship in Farmington, Minn., with Peerless Plastic. She also plans to apply to graduate school.

Soccer player gained citizenship

Among the graduates will be Mohammed Keita, a transportation and logistics major. As big of a life change as graduating from college is, for Keita, it won't even qualify as the biggest life change of this calendar year.

About a month prior to his college graduation, he went through another ceremony to be sworn in as an American citizen, where he also changed his first name from Mauligbe to Mohammed.

"It is important for me to get citizenship because I love this country. This country is giving me opportunities to live a better life and put myself in a position where I can make a positive impact on people's lives in the community," he said.

During NCAA Division III Week in 2017, Yellowjacket Athletics documented Keita's journey - one in which he left family members behind in his native country, located in West Africa, to emigrate to the U.S. with his mother and brother. The move in 2005 eventually led the family to Brooklyn Park, Minn.

"It was tough at first because none of us spoke English. Malinke is the most spoken language in Guinea and I also speak Arabic and French (the country's official language), but I didn't know any English when I got here," Keita said. "I needed ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. The schooling system is very different here. We were used to having school that was religion-based, in Islam, and we spent a lot of time studying the Koran."

The one constant for Mohammed, from Guinea to Minnesota, was soccer, and it not only enabled him to be part of a state championship high school team, but it was also the vehicle that led him to college.

"I think I've said this before, but I really enjoyed getting to know Mohammed through the recruiting process. Every player is different and that makes every recruiting process different, but with him everything just felt good," Yellowjacket men's soccer head coach Joe Mooney said.

Keita arrived in 2015 at UWS, where he became a fixture on the men's soccer team, as well as a full-time student in the transportation and logistics management program. But all the while, he was working on becoming a citizen of the United States.

"He has emigrated to a new country and become a citizen here. Now, he will be a college graduate. He has opened a lot of doors for himself," Mooney said.

Criminal justice major was inspired to take action

Kahley Kallberg remembers a particular day when the Polar Vortex hovered over the Great Lakes, driving temperatures dangerously low.

"I was walking across the UWS campus and I had forgotten my hat at home," the criminal justice major said. "I couldn't believe how cold it was and I thought about what a big difference it would make if I only had a hat. Later that night, I couldn't sleep. I just kept thinking of all the people who don't have proper winter clothes or shelter and how cold they must be."

"Most clothing and coat drives take place in the fall, prior to the coldest months," she said. "But, I knew there were still many people who didn't have what they needed, and sometimes people don't really think about donating until the weather gets really cold. That's when I decided to start my own coat drive and to call it 'Share the Warmth.'"

Kallberg decided to contact the Ruth House, a faith-based, nondenominational safe house in Superior for the homeless, underprivileged and those coming out of addiction.

Gathering all the unused coats, hats, mittens, boots and blankets she could find at her father's house, Kallberg and her father made the first of many donations to "Share the Warmth."

"I'll never forget one woman who picked a hat out of the bags of donations I brought and she started to cry," said Kallberg. "She was just so grateful to have it."

Kallberg said her experiences as a legal studies major with a concentration in criminal justice inspired her to take action, including a Certificate in Ethical Policing course she took through Continuing education.

"Nick Alexander, the Superior police chief, teaches the class and brings in other professionals in the field to speak to us," she said. "It was one of the most valuable and unique parts of my education here at UWS."

Kallberg has earned three certificates through Continuing Education - mediation, criminal justice paralegal, and ethical policing - while earning her bachelor's degree.

An honor student, Kallberg will cross the commencement stage as the first in her family to earn a college degree. She plans to go into law enforcement and someday hopes to work for the FBI.

Former hairstylist changed career path

Hope Eden, pre-medicine and health biology major, had been working as a hairstylist for five years when she realized she wasn't totally satisfied and had a growing desire to learn and challenge herself. Hope decided to pursue a college education and see where it might lead, but she likely would never have guessed how earning a degree at UWS would change her life.

She flourished, taking classes in the sciences that interested her, seizing every opportunity that came her way, and developing relationships with her professors, all of which eventually led her to find her passion in genetics and molecular biology.

Like many students at UWS, Eden worked incredibly hard, taking a full load of classes during the day, working in the labs, and continuing to cut hair and bartend in the evening to pay for tuition and living expenses.

Eden was selected to work on a cancer research study using zebrafish at UWS. She learned laboratory research skills and protocol, how to manipulate DNA sequences in cells, record and analyze data, and report findings. She was also chosen for a summer research fellowship at the University of Colorado-Denver, an invaluable opportunity that led to a research assistant job at a private research laboratory in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Eden plans to apply for graduate school and pursue a doctorate in molecular biology, possibly in the area of neurological and mental health research.