UW-Milwaukee to award more than 3,600 degrees May 19

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will award more than 3,600 degrees at its 120th commencement on Sunday, May 19, 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. Mark Attanasio, chairman and principal owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, will be the featured speaker at both the 9 a.m. “black” ceremony and the 1:30 p.m. “gold” ceremony. Honorary degrees will be awarded to philanthropist Mary Kellner and Duke University Professor Marion Broome, both at the black ceremony.

The university will present 2,470 bachelor’s degrees, 668 master’s degrees and 139 doctoral degrees. New this year: Graduates from UWM at Waukesha and UWM at Washington County are invited to walk in the gold commencement ceremony. To those graduates, 376 associate degrees will be awarded.

The oldest degree bachelor’s degree recipient this spring is 64, while the youngest is 19. The oldest associate degree recipient is 85; the youngest is 18.


Attanasio is credited with turning around the Milwaukee Brewers and building the team into one of the better organizations in major league baseball. When Attanasio took over in 2005, the Brewers hadn’t made the playoffs in 22 years. Since then, the team has qualified three times, making it to within one game of the World Series last year and being named Baseball America’s organization of the year.

Attanasio also is the co-founder and managing partner of Crescent Capital Group, an employee-owned alternative investment advisor with approximately $25 billion in managed assets and over 160 employees.

Attanasio holds positions on several not-for-profit boards, including Heal the Bay, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Harvard-Westlake School. He served on the President′s Leadership Council at Brown University for a decade and is currently a member of Major League Baseball’s Compensation, Investment, Revenue Sharing, and Labor Policy Committees and Executive Council.

HONORARY DEGREES: Mary Kellner and Marion Broome

Mary Kellner will receive an honorary doctorate of educational psychology. A philanthropist, educator and community volunteer in the Milwaukee area, she is being honored for her longtime work in helping to improve the education of students from preschool through college.

Kellner, who received her master’s degree in educational psychology from UWM in 1978, taught elementary school and worked as an elementary guidance counselor before spending the past 20 years volunteering and doing board work at numerous not-for-profit organizations such as Next Door, UWM Foundation, the Nehemiah Project, Schools That Can Milwaukee, the I Have A Dream program and, most recently, Pathways High, a new project-based high school in Milwaukee. She was a trustee for the Faye McBeath Foundation for 10 years and is a trustee of Cardinal Stritch University.

The Kelben Foundation, which Kellner and her husband, Ted, established, has provided support to business and education programs as well as scholarships at both UWM and UW-Madison. In 2007, the foundation donated $5 million to UWM to establish an endowed professorship in early childhood education, along with scholarships in early childhood education and business. In 2016, the foundation donated another $5 million toward an endowed professorship in educational psychology, additional early childhood education scholarships and a fund for the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center. The Kelben Foundation also has funded thousands of scholarships for low-income students. Kellner is a co-chair of the university’s comprehensive campaign – Made in Milwaukee, Shaping the World: The Campaign for UWM.

Marion Broome, the Dean and Ruby F. Wilson Professor of Nursing and vice chancellor for nursing affairs at Duke University, will receive an honorary doctorate of science. An expert in pediatric nursing research and practice, she also is associate vice president for academic affairs for nursing at Duke University Health System.

Broome’s research has explored issues including interventions to help children cope with pain, informed consent and assent for children in research, research misconduct in clinical trials, and ethical dilemmas in publishing and leadership of nurse executives. She has published more than 119 papers in 58 refereed nursing, medicine and interdisciplinary journals. She also has written seven books and 20 chapters.

Broome’s leadership positions in her field include being president of the Society for Pediatric Nurses, a member of the Nursing Science Study Section at the National Institutes of Health, and served on governing boards of the Association for the Care of Children’s Health and the Midwest Nursing Research Society.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Six UWM students will be featured in videos during commencement. Links to the videos are below. Reporters who wish to interview any of the students should contact Michelle Johnson at (414) 229-7490.

Tre’quan Martin finished high school a year early — the first male in his immediate family to graduate from high school. After losing a scholarship, he returned to Milwaukee, where he discovered a new home at UWM and connected with Milwaukee Public Schools to advise students on scholarships and admissions and serve as a role model. After finishing his first degree at UWM, he is now wrapping up a master’s in administrative leadership in adult, continuing and higher education administration and plans to continue advising students to show them how much they can achieve.

UWM’s Student Startup Challenge helped James Van Eerden turn his idea for a single dehydrated watermelon snack into a company with multiple products. UWM served as a point for James to connect with not only new business partner Matt Kemper, but also with those in the food and beverage sphere. James and Matt have now won seven business competitions including “Project Pitch It,” which awarded them $10,000 for their business.

Mercedes Islas learned she was pregnant after getting accepted to UWM’s College of Nursing. UWM set up a virtual classroom to help her stay on top of her studies after her daughter was born. Another professor allowed her to bring her newborn to class. In 2018, Islas and another student (Shannon Komar) traveled to China to represent UWM and claim first place in the Shanghai International Nursing Skills Competition. Islas remembers seeing her mother graduate from college and hopes to serve as a similar role model for her two daughters, not only by receiving her bachelor’s degree but also with her plan to continue at UW-Milwaukee and earn a doctoral degree.

Originally from Green Bay, Megan Roshak started working at the Solution Center during her first semester at UWM at Waukesha. Soon after, she became the public relations director for the Student Government Association and a brand ambassador for the Milwaukee Bucks. She will soon be starting two different internships with the Green Bay Blizzard and Midwest Communications. Her roles on campus not only helped her build her resume, but also gave her opportunities to explore different career paths.

Alvaro De León González was born in San Jose, California, and moved to Mexico when he was 8 years old. In Mexico, he studied at the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes, then decided to transfer his credits to UWM to finish his civil engineering degree. De León González chose to study at UWM because of the university’s high level of engagement with state and local organizations. In 2018, De León González landed a full-time position with the City of Milwaukee as an engineering drafting technician. He says UWM gave him valuable opportunities to network and connect with the Milwaukee community.

Ashley Handley completed her first two years of college at UWM at Waukesha, then transferred to UWM’s main campus to complete her finance degree. At UWM, Handley was part of the Panther Foundation for Success, which prepares students for their transition into the workplace, develops their soft skills and provides them with a relevant internship opportunity that fits their area of study. The Panther Foundation for Success helped her find an internship at Rockwell Automation, and before graduation day, Handley accepted a full-time position there.

In addition, here are a few more interesting stories about graduates:

Woman goes from temporarily homeless recent immigrant to graduation and dental school

At 85, new graduate isn’t ready to stop learning

UWM senior honored for undergraduate research with trip to Capitol Hill


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

College of Letters and Science: 909

Lubar School of Business: 655

College of General Studies: 376

College of Health Sciences: 284

College of Engineering & Applied Science: 266

School of Education: 228

College of Nursing: 222

Peck School of the Arts: 201

Helen Bader School of Social Welfare: 195

School of Information Studies: 176

School of Architecture & Urban Planning: 99

Zilber School of Public Health: 15

Global Studies Interdisciplinary: 11

School of Freshwater Sciences: 10

Joint Programs L&S and CEAS: 6


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.

For more information, contact: John Schumacher, schuma63@uwm.edu, 414-229-6778, or Michelle Johnson, john3453@uwm.edu, 414-229-7490.