UW-Milwaukee to award more than 3,400 degrees May 21

MILWAUKEE _ The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will award more than 3,400 degrees at its 116th commencement on Sunday, May 21, at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, 400 W. Kilbourn Ave.

Degrees will be awarded at two ceremonies, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Kimberley Cy Motley, CEO and founding partner of Motley Legal Services, will be the featured speaker at the 9 a.m. “black” ceremony. Avi Shaked, founder and chief executive officer of Onward Technologies, will speak at the “gold” ceremony at 1:30 p.m. (Shaked had been scheduled to speak at December’s ceremony, but a snowstorm prevented him from doing so.)

The university will present 2,532 bachelor’s degrees, 683 master’s degrees, 168 doctoral degrees and 22 flexible option degrees.


Kimberley Cy Motley is the CEO and founding partner of Motley Legal Services, a law firm that operates internationally. Motley received both bachelor’s (1999) and master’s (2003) degrees in criminal justice from UWM. She has built a career as an international lawyer, representing clients on every continent except Antarctica.

Motley is the only foreign lawyer to ever litigate in Afghanistan’s courts, where she won a presidential pardon for a woman charged with adultery.

In 2016, Motley launched the Justness Project, which aims to improve legal representation globally as well as educate people about the law.

Avi Shaked is founder and CEO of Onward Technologies, which provides corporate IT services and custom software.

Born in Israel, Shaked served in the Israeli Air Force before coming to the United States. With the help of a scholarship, he attended UWM, graduating in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He went to work at IBM, where he helped design the System/36, a popular minicomputer, before leaving to start his own company.

Acknowledging the impact of the scholarship he received, Shaked and his wife, Dr. Babs Waldman, established a foundation in 2006 to provide scholarships for engineering students at UWM. More than 250 students have received scholarships so far.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Seven UWM students will be featured in videos during commencement. Reporters who wish to interview them should contact Michelle Johnson at (414) 229-7490.

Juan Orjuela, biology and conservation environmental sciences, is a native of Bogota, Colombia, where he developed a passion for animals and an interest in pursuing a career as a veterinarian. He’s done scientific research as an undergrad, which helped him gain acceptance to a summer enrichment program at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He helped establish the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Organization on campus, which helps students interested in veterinary medicine get internships and get involved in research.

Jared and Amber Anderson, education, have juggled two children, jobs and volunteer work while attending UWM. Financial help and other support from UWM’s Life Impact program helped them manage. Both are the first in their families to graduate from college. They plan to be science teachers in Milwaukee.

Katrina Hightower, information science and technology, nearly didn’t finish college. She was working as a mail carrier, taking night classes on the side. A UWM adviser helped her get a three-month internship at ManpowerGroup, which turned into a yearlong internship. Her work with Destination Innovation led to a workshop in New York for Kohl’s, which led to her getting a full-time job with the company as a software engineer.

Ryan Fallon, film, gained experience in his field before graduation. He worked as a production assistant for CNN when the network brought a Republican presidential candidate town hall event to Milwaukee before the primary election. And through a professional practice film internship, he worked with local businesses creating commercials and training videos. He also helped create public service announcements about sexual assault.

Anne Barlas, mechanical engineering, did research as an undergrad on ways to combat phosphorus pollution in the Great Lakes. She has presented her research at conferences and has gotten published twice. She has worked to bring clean energy to Milwaukee through work with the nonprofit RE-volv and through a student organization she co-founded. She has accepted a job with Rexnord and plans to devote her career to the water and energy fields.

Alycia Doxon, finance, has been heavily involved in entrepreneurship at UWM, and she plans to build her own businesses after graduation. She was chosen for the University Innovation Fellows program, which included travel to a conference in Silicon Valley for workshops with companies such as Google and Microsoft. At UWM, she served as president of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, where she helped increase membership and brought in entrepreneurs to talk about their work.


The numbers of degrees awarded by UWM schools and colleges are below. The numbers include bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and flex degrees.

College of Letters and Science: 907

Lubar School of Business: 657

School of Education: 276

College of Engineering & Applied Science: 283

College of Health Sciences: 280

Peck School of the Arts: 212

College of Nursing: 206

Helen Bader School of Social Welfare: 225

School of Information Studies: 196

School of Architecture & Urban Planning: 110

Zilber School of Public Health: 24

Global Studies Interdisciplinary: 11

School of Freshwater Sciences: 15

Joint Programs L&S and CEAS: 3


Members of the media wishing to cover the commencement ceremonies should enter through the Panther Arena’s main doors and ask for assistance from an usher.


Recognized as one of the nation’s 115 top research universities, UW-Milwaukee provides a world-class education to 26,000 students from 89 countries on a budget of $667 million. Its 14 schools and colleges include Wisconsin’s only schools of architecture, freshwater sciences and public health, and it is a leading educator of nurses and teachers. UW-Milwaukee partners with leading companies to conduct joint research, offer student internships and serve as an economic engine for southeastern Wisconsin. The Princeton Review named UW-Milwaukee a 2017 “Best Midwestern” university based on overall academic excellence and student reviews, as well as a top “Green College.”