May 17, 2010
MADISON, Wis. – In the midst of an undoubtedly busy commencement weekend, graduating student-athletes gathered in Heritage Hall at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon for a graduation reception put on by the UW Athletic Department’s Office of Academic Services. The graduates received their stoles and enjoyed a low-key gathering of family and friends.
Terry Murawski welcomed everyone and spoke on behalf of the National W Club to open the reception.
As executive director of the National W Club, Murawski talked about the challenges of being successful in both athletics and academics and congratulated the student-athletes and their families on the all of the accomplishments they achieved at the University of Wisconsin.
Following an inspirational speech from 2009 UW graduate and former Badger swimmer Nick Fulton, Doug Tiedt, Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Services, and Steve Waterfield, Associate Athletic Director for Student Services, presented the 22 student-athletes in attendance with their red graduation stoles.
Despite the sadness of saying goodbye and the stress of finishing final exams coupled with a whirlwind graduation weekend, the student-athletes took time to reflect on their experiences at the University of Wisconsin while also looking ahead to the future.
“Graduation just came so fast,” golfer Isabel Alvarez said. “I can’t believe it’s over. I can’t believe it’s been five years, playing golf and just enjoying it. I can only be so grateful and so excited about what’s coming next. I’m really, really grateful.”
Alvarez, who competed on the women’s golf team from 2006-09, plans to move back to her native Spain and pursue a career in photography. Graduation weekend marked an extra special occasion for Alvarez as her parents, her brother and her sister were able to be in attendance.
“It feels great for them to be here,” Alvarez said of her family. “They came with me my freshman year, so five years ago they were here. It’s just so different. I’m a different person now. I’m glad to show them what I’ve become thanks to playing golf here and studying here. It’s awesome.
“It has been a lot of work, so it’s really exciting. I’m really thankful. It’s just a great weekend to share with my family.”
Alvarez’s friend and teammate Beth Weinstein, who plans to attend graduate school before pursuing a career teaching golf, shared the disbelief at her time at UW coming to an end.
“It went by too fast,” Weinstein said. “It’s exciting, but it will be weird when I don’t move back into my apartment next fall. I hope to stay in touch with all of my teammates and my friends. We’re all from all over, but it was fun and we had great times, so I’ll definitely hold on to all of the memories with everyone.”
Other student-athletes felt that graduation arrived just in time, including men’s golfer Craig Cerbins.
“It feels pretty good that graduation is finally here,” Cerbins said. “I actually had to take 18 credits this last semester, so it was quite a lot to work my way through that, but it feels satisfying. I don’t know if it will hit me right away. I think it might take a little time, but it’s exciting and I’m ready for it.”
Men’s hockey player Ben Grotting agreed.
“I’m relieved, but I’m nervous at the same time, going into the real world. It’s exciting. Everything I’ve learned here will benefit me later in life,” Grotting said. With a laugh, he added, “It’s something to fall back on when hockey runs dry.”
All of the graduating student-athletes can look back on their time at the UW and know that their accomplishments are many. Even though they no longer compete for Wisconsin, they are UW graduates and Badgers for life, and they will never be the same.
“The University of Wisconsin is a place where I grew as a student and person,” men’s golfer Nick Engen said. “I truly believe that it will help to get me to where I want to be in my career. I really enjoyed my time here.”
“Graduation is exciting but sad,” Weinstein said. “I mean, this was awesome. It was an amazing opportunity.”