Outlook Magazine - Fall 2021


Special family bond

Inspired by her Stout Proud grandfather, student was one of more than 1,600 graduates in 2020-21


“I love Stout so much that writing this speech was challenging because my passion is so deep I could barely put it into words,” she said. Truly surprised, Christensen couldn’t hold back the tears when she spoke. “I’m extremely proud of Alexa for completing a successful UW-Stout experience. She is a very driven individual and has a tremendous competitive desire to work hard and to be the best, all traits that are encouraged by Stout’s hands-on approach to learning,” said Christensen, who also earned a master’s from UW-Stout in 1977. The tradition is continuing: Gravunder’s sister, Ava, is a sophomore at UW-Stout, majoring in early childhood education. Spring commencement featured four in-person ceremonies for graduates only, plus a virtual ceremony. Virtual ceremonies only were held in March 2020 and December 2020.

othing says Stout Proud more than commencement. During the 2020-21 academic year, more than 1,600 graduates received undergraduate and Graduate School diplomas. At May commencement, the pride stretched back a half-century. Alexa Gravunder, one of two virtual student speakers, explained that her love for UW-Stout dates to her childhood. She often would visit campus for athletic events with family, led by her grandfather, Gary Christensen. He graduated 50 years ago. “When I say Stout Proud, I did not understand the true impact of that phrase until this last summer. I spent a great deal of time with my grandpa, and we always ended up talking about Stout. I realized how much his face changed when he talked about this university. I could see that Stout had impacted him more than just with an education. “Stout … is about educating the whole person. Today, I can say with pride — like my grandpa and thousands of others — that I am a UW-Stout alum,” said Gravunder, who had a co-op, was a Stout Ambassador and involved in athletics and clubs. Gravunder, a supply chain management major who has been hired as a buyer at Curt Manufacturing in Eau Claire, kept her speaking role a secret from her grandfather until the big day. They had been having a family competition to see if she could surpass his undergraduate accomplishments. She called it one of her biggest accomplishments.


Goal 1. Student Success — holistic support and integrated learning experiences that engage students in envisioning new possibilities, achieving their goals, and excelling in our global and diverse society.


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