On Tuesday, May 17, at 7 p.m., graduates from Gateway Technical College gathered at the UW-Parkside Sports and Activity Center to celebrate the completion of their schooling. Graduates from the School of Business and Transportation Technology, and the School of Manufacturing Engineering and Information Technology heard from fellow classmate and student responder, Megan Bahr, that evening. Bahr served as the “voice of the student” for this commencement ceremony.
In addition to Bahr’s speech, Michelle Gerde, a Senior Service Manager at We Energies, was honored as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. She encouraged students to develop good habits now; habits that will help them to reach their goals and succeed later in life. In attendence was also the 2022 Gateway Technical College Distinguished Alumni, Jesús Anaya. He earned an Automotive Servicing diploma in 1980. Anaya has owned and operated Anaya’s Auto Repair Inc. in Kenosha for more than 40 years.
Bahr, a Racine resident, graduated with her Associate’s Degree. However, when she first started at Gateway Technical College, 1001 S, Main St., in 2018, she didn’t know where her education would take her. She was 19 years old at the time. To Bahr, her path was unknown, but she knew that taking a semester’s worth of courses would look good on her resume. Bahr explains that she too had a bias about technical education before enrolling. She shares she had, “the opinion that many still have about technical education: it’s not as important or as valuable as going to a 4-year school. Within my first few months, I was proven so incredibly wrong.”
The student responder stuck with her education and enrolled in the Professional Communications program.
The individual seen at the commencement ceremony was completely transformed from the person she once was. A Gateway faculty member said that at first, “she kept to herself and jokes that she was called Hoodie Megan because she essentially just pulled up her hoodie, listened to music and didn’t break out of her shell to talk to anyone.”
That version of Bahr has changed. She’s transformed into a new version of herself. “Her love of college, Gateway and direction in life strengthened by the semester, and now Megan has blossomed into quite a well-versed public speaker, and has received several accolades locally, statewide and even nationally for her work as a student,” shares Lee Colony of Gateway.
Bahr served as the District Ambassador for Gateway Technical College. Currently, she serves as the student representative on the Wisconsin Technical College System board. With her position, she is given the same voting rights as business and educational leaders, who also serve on the board.
“We are very proud of Megan including myself, personally,” said Colony. “It’s amazing the strong and powerful advocate she’s become for students. After a few years of being a student at Gateway and having the opportunity to meet some amazing students across the state of Wisconsin, Bahr says she has ‘a whole new point of view.'”
“I’ll Try Again” Resiliency
At her commencement ceremony, that same strength was channeled through her speech. In college – and in life – there are many “I’ll try again tomorrow” moments. These particular moments were described by Bahr, such as when the work seems to be too much, or the road is too long, but in the end, you move forward and try again.
Through adversity, it’s in these moments that you reach your goal and succeed by trying again. The Professional Communications student expressed her pride towards her classmates for their ability to push through difficult moments and try again. The choice to try again brought students to their success of graduating college.
“Earning a college degree is already incredibly hard enough, but you completed a good majority of your degree during a pandemic and all of the thousands of attached issues that came with it,” said Bahr. “If someone hasn’t told you they’re proud of you, I will do it right now, and again and again after the ceremony if you like.” She spoke heartfelt, “I am proud of you. Every single one of you,” to the graduating class.
Bahr will be continuing her education at the University of Wisconsin Parkside in the Fall of 2022.
The recent Gateway graduate stated, “technical college students are so incredibly diverse and come from so many different walks of life and experiences. Regardless of who you are, and what life you’ve lived, you can all come to Gateway or any of the other 15 technical colleges in the state of Wisconsin and be welcomed with open arms. I am so incredibly proud to be a technical college student, and even as I’m walking across the stage in a few years receiving my bachelor’s degree, I will still be shouting to the rooftops that I am, and always will be a proud technical college student.”
Second Graduation Ceremony
An additional ceremony was held to honor the graduates from the School of Health, as well as the School of Protective and Human Services. This ceremony for the Red Hawks took place on Wednesday, May 18, at 7 p.m. at the UW-Parkside Sports and Activity Center. Guida Brown, substance abuse counselor and former executive director of Hope Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Inc., delivered the keynote speech of the evening. The student responder for this ceremony was Maggie Mosley, of Kenosha, from the Human Services program. Once again, the 2022 Gateway Technical College Distinguished Alumni, Jesús Anaya, was honored.
Combined, the two ceremonies recognized 1,252 prospective candidates for graduation from Summer 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022 semesters. A combined 353 students participated in the two ceremonies.
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