Stories from new UW-Milwaukee graduates inspire us all

June 27, 2019

By Mark A. Mone
Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Chancellor Mark Mone shares the success stories of some recent UWM graduates.

As summer gets underway, we are so proud of all the graduates from around our city. Whether someone is graduating from kindergarten, eighth grade, high school or college, these are important and life-changing accomplishments.

Just last month, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee held its 120th Commencement ceremony. More than 3,500 students were eligible to graduate and walk across the stage at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. This is where we hear some of the year’s most inspiring and diverse stories, and like the students who share them, these stories have origins in our community and from around the world.

UWM enrolls students from 92 countries, and more than a third of our students are people of color. Our long history as a diverse and welcoming campus is a unique and valuable benefit to our students – and one of UWM’s greatest strengths. We are proud to play such a crucial role in the personal journeys of our students, and I’ll share just a few of the many stories from our May graduating class.

Tre’quan Martin finished high school a year early with a $100,000 scholarship to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta. After overextending himself with extracurriculars, he narrowly missed the required grade point average to maintain his scholarship. He returned home to Milwaukee, where he discovered a new home at UWM.

Along the way, he connected with Milwaukee Public Schools to advise its students on scholarships and admissions and serve as a role model. After finishing his first degree at UWM, he earned a master’s degree in administrative leadership in adult, continuing and higher education administration. He plans to continue advising students to show them how much they can achieve.

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, Mercedes and another student traveled to China to represent UWM and claim first place in the Shanghai International Nursing Skills Competition. Mercedes remembers seeing her mother graduate college and hopes to serve as a similar role model for her two daughters, not only by receiving her bachelor’s degree, but also by planning to continue her studies at UWM and earn a doctorate degree. 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 and decided to transfer his credits to UWM to finish his civil engineering degree. Alvaro chose to study at UWM because of the university’s high level of engagement with state and local organizations. In 2018, Alvaro landed a full-time position with Milwaukee’s city government as an engineering drafting technician. UWM gave him valuable opportunities to network and connect with the Milwaukee community, and Alvaro made the most of them.

Tre’quan, Mercedes and Alvaro are just a few examples of the diverse and inspiring individuals who graduate from UWM and go on to make a difference in the lives of others. They are the faces of the future, and they show just how powerful earning a college degree can be.

Please visit us and learn about what your paths to success can be. If you take a campus tour from now through Sept. 12, you will receive free tickets to a Milwaukee Brewers game, Summerfest, State Fair or Mexican Fiesta. Visit to schedule your tour today.

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