Wayne State Commencement
Published: 4-25-2013 8:35 am
Wayne State College seniors begin to think about their careers and life after college as graduation approaches each year. They reminisce on their college experiences and the lessons they’ve learned that can help them succeed in any field, and in life.
Ten WSC seniors share their passions for their majors, their plans after graduation and their love of Wayne State.
Wayne State College will hold commencement for graduate students at 9:30 a.m. May 4 in Rice Auditorium and at 2 p.m. May 4 for undergraduate students in Memorial Stadium. A total of 448 degrees -- 354 undergraduates and 94 graduate degrees -- will be conferred at the ceremonies by Wayne State President Curt Frye. Nebraska State Senator Greg Adams, speaker of the Nebraska legislature and a 1974 graduate of Wayne State College, will deliver the commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony.
Brandon Foote, husband of Staci Foote and the son of Brian and Tammy Foote, will deliver one of two addresses at the graduate ceremony. Foote, who is graduating with his master’s degree in organizational management with an emphasis in sport management, earned his bachelor’s degree at Wayne State in 2011.
Foote has served as a graduate assistant for the Wayne State sports information office the past two years. His duties have included helping create all of the media guides for the various sports at Wayne State, while also updating the website with stories, photo galleries and press releases. Foote also entered live stats for the website at all home games along with numerous other tasks and responsibilities.
Kimberly Hix, wife of Ryan Hix and daughter of Jim and Terri Vrooman, will deliver one of two addresses at the graduate ceremony. Hix will receive her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She graduated from Wayne State in the winter of 2008 with her bachelor of science in elementary education with an endorsement in early childhood development.
Hix teaches fourth grade at Wayne Elementary School and has two children, Elizabeth and Benjamin.
Alexis Sieh will deliver the invocation at the undergraduate ceremony. She is the daughter of Mike and Shellie Sieh of Stanton, Neb. Alexis graduated as valedictorian from Stanton Community Schools in 2009 and studied chemistry health science with a minor in biology at Wayne State College. She has been on the Dean’s List with a 4.0 GPA all four years, is a Board of Trustees Scholar, and is a member of the Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP).
Sieh has participated in Health Science Club, Cardinal Key Honor Society, Philomathean Presidential Honor Society, and was named a 2012 Homecoming Princess. She is currently the President of Rotaract Club and the Co-Student President of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Sieh has been a Science and Math Tutor for the Holland Academic Success Center the past two years and is currently their secretary. She is graduating with High Honors in her major and has presented her honors research project at the National Academy of Science and the American Chemical Society. Sieh will begin her studies at University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Medicine in August to pursue a doctorate degree in medicine. Sieh hopes to one day return to rural Nebraska to practice in the surrounding area.
Dr. Bonnie Bass is the recipient of the Wayne State Foundation Alumni Achievement Award. She is the founder and president of Expertise, a consulting and executive advisory firm headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, with eight associate offices in the U.S. and Canada. She also serves as Vice President of Research and Development for Professional DynaMetric Programs, Inc., a Colorado behavioral research, program development, and international training company. She serves as Director of the DynaPro Consulting Division of PDP Inc.
Bass graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from Wayne State College in 1954. After teaching at Wayne High School and Technical High School in Omaha, she enjoyed a number of years as a homemaker, parenting two children (Jefferson Bass and Jane Bass Page) and serving her community in cities in California, Iowa and Utah. Her love of learning and a desire to assist people to become successful in life inspired her to enroll in a master’s degree program at University of San Francisco in psychology. After a two-year internship (1978), she was granted a license as a family counselor and opened an office practice.
During 1978 her brother, Bruce Hubby, a businessman in Colorado Springs, Colo., was funding and leading a new research project that incorporated technology with the vision of assisting businesses and organizations to achieve success through understanding people. The two siblings joined in this venture, later known as PDP Inc. Bruce Hubby, now deceased, graduated from WSC in 1957, along with his wife, Jan Hubby. Bruce Hubby's son, Brent Hubby, is now President of PDP Inc. To assist in the new research and expand her knowledge of business applications of psychology, Bass returned to the University of San Francisco, earning the doctor of education degree in 1983. She is a member of the Institute of Management Consultants USA and the National Speakers Association. Bass is honored to have been the first woman president and chairman of the board of the San Francisco Kiwanis Club (1990).
Matt Ley, chief executive officer of State National Bank in Wayne, will present the State National Bank Teaching Excellence Award to Dr. Mark Leeper, professor of politics. David Ley, the banks' chairman of the board, established the award in 1998 as a way of recognizing and strengthening outstanding teaching at Wayne State. David Ley and State National Bank of Wayne support the college in many ways, including scholarships and as a trustee of the Wayne State Foundation Board of Trustees.
This prestigious honor is awarded on the basis of rigorous standards that require a superior level of effective teaching. Leeper also was Wayne State's nominee for the Nebraska State College System Teaching Excellence Award.
This is Leeper’s fourth recognition for excellence in teaching, two at Wayne State and two at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Leeper has been at Wayne State for 17 years, teaching American government, constitutional law, elections, and American political culture through literature and film. He earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina and his bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Leeper has taken students to observe oral arguments of the U.S. Supreme Court as a part of their honors projects; has taken students to Iowa caucus events to interact with major party candidates for president; and has co-authored papers with undergraduates and presented their findings at professional political science conferences.
His nomination materials note that he “exhibits the traits embodied in the great teachers of politics: he is engaging, feisty, reverent, and when necessary, irreverent, critical, humorous, and intellectually curious. His approach to teaching has profoundly affected students for over a generation. His former students are now lawyers, teachers, political activists, lobbyists, and more. Most importantly, his students see the world more clearly, engage in their communities more passionately and find politics more interesting than they would otherwise.”
Nebraska State Senator Greg Adams will deliver the undergraduate commencement address. Adams represents the 24th District in the Nebraska State Legislature.
Adams graduated with a bachelor's degree in education in 1974 and a master's degree in education in 1975, both from Wayne State College.
He was elected to the legislature for the first time in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. He was elected Speaker of the Legislature for the 2013-14 session. He served as chair of the legislature's Education Committee, and served on the legislature's Revenue Committee, and the Committee on Committees from 2009 to 2012.
He began his teaching career in 1976 at York High School where he taught American government and politics until 2006. During his 30 years as an educator, Adams served as president of the Nebraska State Council for the Social Studies from 1980 to 1981, was a member of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation Curriculum Committee from 1992 to 1994, administered the Washington, D.C. Close Up Program since 1982, and served as the K-12 Social Studies department chair from 1982 to 2004.
His service in government began in 1986 with election to the York City Council. After 10 years as a councilman he was elected mayor of York, a post he held until 2006. He was appointed by the governor in 1997 and again in 2000 to the Nebraska Information Technology Commission.
Adams married Julie A. Epke on Oct. 8, 1992. He has three children: Heather Loveless, Shawn Levitt and Sarah Adams.
Alexis Sieh of Stanton, Neb., majored in chemistry health science with a minor in biology. Sieh will attend University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) for medical school.
“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor and wanted to help people,” Sieh said. “My parents always encouraged me, and now my teachers truly believe in me and say they’ll come to me as a doctor.”
Sieh said she would love to come back to a rural area to be a general practitioner or work in the emergency room. She also said she would like to do some traveling with Doctors Without Borders.
Cody Wragge of Laurel, Neb., majored in criminal justice with a minor in business. Even though Wragge’s interest started in law, he’s now pursuing the business side of his education.
“I just got hired with Mutual of Omaha Insurance,” Wragge said. “I want to become a financial adviser with them. I’m currently a sales agent, but I’ll work my way up.”
Wragge’s biggest challenge at Wayne State was learning time management, juggling a 40-hour a week job with school and a social life. He’s never regretted his decision to attend WSC.
Hilary Benes of Valparaiso, Neb., majored in interior design. Benes fell in love with interior design when she drafted her first house in Family Consumer Science class in high school.
“I love the craftiness and colors and picking out things for the home,” Benes said.
Throughout her college career, Benes said her favorite memories include designing floor plans. She said she also learned the importance of designing for clients through hands-on class experience.
Benes said she recently applied to GV Custom Kitchens and is hoping to work for the company after graduation.
Jeff Fryman, Jr. of Bellevue, Neb., has a double major in criminal justice and political scienceFryman plans to go to Washington, D.C. to work at Capitol Hill in the office of a Republican politician.
“I’ve always been interested in studying law,” Fryman said. “I’ve always wanted to go into politics.”
Fryman said he eventually wants to get a master’s degree in political science and run for political office.
Kayla Johnson of Oakland, Neb., majored in in family consumer science and early childhood education. Johnson hopes to work at Educare in Lincoln after graduation.
“I’d like to eventually be a director at a facility like Educare, or in social work,” she said.
Johnson said she has expanded her leadership skills and capabilities through her involvement in campus organizations and hands-on class experiences.
“Overall, my experience here has been encouraging, rewarding, challenging, but a blessing,” she said.
Mark Vrbicky of Clarkson, Neb., is a broadcasting major with minors in journalism and online media. While announcing sports games as a child with the TV on mute, Vrbicky said he realized he was born to broadcast.
“I’ve always been interested in the whole broadcast spectrum,” Vrbicky said. “My dream job is to be the voice of the Huskers, or something along the lines of sports that allows me to show off my creativity.”
Vrbicky said he’s still searching for a radio career after graduation, but will always remember calling Wildcat sports games on the campus radio station 91.9 The Cat.
Steph Weaver of Papillion, Neb., is a K-12 vocal music education major.
“I started out as a biology major,” Weaver said. “But after two years, I realized I just couldn’t give up music, and I always wanted to be a teacher.”
Weaver said some of her favorite WSC memories are singing for Madrigals and performing in her recitals.
Weaver said she plans to stay around the Omaha area, get a teaching job and eventually get her master’s degree. She also said her main goal is to teach elementary music.
Travis Schemmel of Sioux City, Iowa, majored in elementary education with a coaching endorsement. Schemmel said he hopes to find a job not far from Sioux City, teaching a class between third and sixth grade.
“I’ve always had a passion for teaching,” Schemmel said. “Seeing kids succeed is one of the best things.”
Through his involvement with and support from STRIDE and his student teaching experience, Schemmel is ready to get his own classroom and reach his goals of helping children learn and grow.
Kendra Cornell of Newport, Neb., has a criminal justice major with a minor in sociology. Cornell was drawn to a field in criminal justice after she researched the classes at Wayne State.
“After graduation, I plan to stay at the Juvenile Detention Center in Madison and move to Norfolk,” Cornell said.
Cornell said she’s truly enjoyed her experiences at WSC, and plans to obtain more education in the future.
“The experiences and the people I’ve met here have been wonderful,” she said.
Patric Euse of Silver Creek, Neb., earned a computer information systems networking degree. Euse said he decided to study networking because he wanted to learn something new and different, and he’s really enjoyed the classes.
“After graduation, I am going to look to find a job in Lincoln or Omaha,” Euse said. “I feel like that’s where most of the opportunities will be.”
Euse said he’s loved being at WSC, and the experiences he’s gained and relationships he’s formed can help him succeed in any area.
“I feel like I’m a jack of all trades,” he said. “Whether I go into computers or not, I can be happy.”