SOMERS — Gateway Technical College prides itself as being the first technical college in the state; on Tuesday it marked another milestone, graduating its largest class of students — 1,332 in all.
Family and friends stood up from their seats on the gym bleachers at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Sports and Activity Center to wave to loved ones awaiting their diplomas in their caps and gowns.
Gateway had 452 students participate in the graduation ceremony, which is the highest number in four years, college officials said.
Tracy Crocker, president of BRP Marine Group, the boat engine and recreational gear manufacturer located in Sturtevant, was the commencement speaker.
Crocker congratulated the Gateway Class of 2019, and also acknowledged those sitting in the stands and elsewhere.
“Somebody, most likely in the room tonight, had something to do with your accomplishment,” Crocker said. “And that feeling of gratitude, the heart-felt gratitude, needs to be acknowledged by you in whatever way is right for you.”
Crocker reminded the graduates of who helped them out so that one day they can help someone else when they need a helping hand.
“It’s a reminder that we’re all here because we’re standing on someone else’s shoulders,” Crocker said. “Someday, and someday could be tomorrow, you will have the same opportunity to return the favor and pay it forward and make the world a better place.”
Crocker also reminded the graduates that they have something to offer their communities and future employer and are more than “just a number.”
“No matter what you do next, you’re going to be part of something and beyond being able to do your job, you’re going to find your place,” Crocker said. “You must know wherever you go you are more than a number ... If you ever find yourself in place where you feel like a number, or a cog in the wheel, you should find another place.”
Each individual brings something unique to the table, Crocker said, adding now is a great time to show the world what these new graduates have to offer.
“We live in a time where there is more opportunity for medicine to save lives or technology to improve lives — opportunities for individuals to make a difference in somebody else’s life,” Crocker said. “To make a difference we need all of you, your skills, your passion, your ideas, all of you in the real world. We can’t wait to see it.”
‘We are leaders’
Keydi Osorio, who delivered the student address, was born in Honduras and is a first-generation college graduate.
Osorio talked about being unsure of herself when she started her college studies, but through the instructors and support at Gateway, she was able to be more confident in herself.
“Gateway gave us an education to be proud of and to be confident about, because I’m proud to say that this college created leaders for the future generation,” Osorio said. “We are leaders of the future generation.”
“Somebody, most likely in the room tonight, had something to do with your accomplishment. And that feeling of gratitude, the heart-felt gratitude, needs to be acknowledged by you in whatever way is right for you.” Tracy Crocker, president of BRP Marine Group and 2019 Gateway Technical College commencement speaker