Lakeland College awarded degrees to more than 700 students Sunday as the college celebrated its 151st commencement.
A total of 715 graduates received diplomas, including 492 undergraduates and 223 graduate students. Just over 360 graduates participated in the ceremony, held in the college's Wehr Center.
The undergraduate group included 175 students who attended classes at Lakeland's main campus program and 317 students who took classes through Lakeland's evening, weekend and online program, which includes seven centers around Wisconsin.
World class sailor, Emmy Award-winning television commentator and author Gary Jobson delivered the commencement address. He shared a series of short, humorous stories from his 57-year sailing career (that began at age 6) and his 28-year job with ESPN.
He encouraged graduates to write down their goals and take time to plan their lives, find ways to inspire and help other people, use their training when facing life's curve balls and do things that no one has done before.
"Always say nice things about people," Jobson said. "It will come back to help you. You never know what's going to happen in life. When you help others, in the end, the person you could be helping out the most is you."
He noted a recent New York Times article that reported college graduates chances of getting hired have increased 9 percent over other groups. "I have good news for you - the world is ready for you, and you are prepared," Jobson said.
A survivor of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and America's Cup champion, Jobson was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree for his career and his efforts that have raised more than $43 million for cancer research.
Also receiving honorary degrees on Sunday were former Lakeland College Trustee Bill Younger (honorary doctor of humane letters) and David Moyer, conference minister for the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ, who received an honorary doctor of divinity.
Younger's leadership at Lakeland has spanned four decades, and also includes service as the director of the Center for Business and Economics. Younger has served as a friend, advisor and mentor to Lakeland presidents and senior staff, and has been a tireless advocate of the college and its mission.
Moyer, who is retiring this July after working more than 40 years in the ministry, delivered the sermon at Lakeland's baccalaureate service, which was held earlier on Sunday in the Bradley Theatre.
The weekend got started with the Graduation Celebration Banquet on Saturday night, where the college handed out two major student awards.
Sarah Wagner, of Sheboygan, who graduated with a bachelor's in international business and marketing, was named winner of the Clarence H. Koehler Campus Senior Award. Diane Le Roy, of Green Bay, who earned a bachelor's in marketing, was named winner of the Robert W. Lope Award.
The Koehler Award goes to the full-time student at the main campus who qualifies academically and who best exemplifies Lakeland's spirit through engagement in campus activities and outstanding commitment to the Lakeland community.
Wagner started taking classes at Lakeland in 2009 after being hired to manage the college's coffee shop. She received a bachelor's degree with a double major in international business and marketing.
She has received a presidential scholarship for four years, was an active member of Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society and the National Spanish Honor Society and this year was named the winner of the Outstanding Student Award in International Business.
"She is always trying to identify ways to grow and improve herself, whether it be taking a foreign language, considering the best major or minor, pursuing an internship or managing the Daily Grind," said her academic advisor, Scott Niederjohn, associate professor of economics and business. "She did all of these things with great skill and class."
The Lope Award goes to the Kellett School graduate who has shown unusual persistence, dedication and commitment in the course of earning their bachelor's degree.
Le Roy started taking class at Lakeland in 1994, and Sunday earned a bachelor's in marketing. She set a goal of graduating with no student debt, and she spent eight of the 19 years it took her to finish in the classroom. Along with way, she started her own business, which thrived despite the recession.
"Diane's objective was not to complete her degree quickly, but to complete her degree responsibly," said Zach Voelz, Lakeland vice president for the Kellett School. "Diane's skill, dedication and determination have carried her a long way. She sits before us now as a strong, assertive entrepreneur with a very bright future."
More than 700 graduate at Lakeland's 151st commencement