Picking commencement speakers for the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point is a process that starts with the winners of the Chancellor’s Leadership Award. After a process of writing and performing, these two ladies were chosen to speak at the commencements.
Quianwei Knauf, a biology major, was chosen to speak at the 10 a.m. commencement.
Knauf moved to Wisconsin after going to school in Shanghai because she hated the big city. The move itself was rather random.
“The first time I heard about Wisconsin was in ‘Titanic,’” Knauf admitted.
Despite being a biology major, chemistry has had a big impact on Knauf’s life. At UWSP, Knauf has worked extensively in the chemistry department research lab and created the first noveo-molecule which landed her a publication in a journal of organic chemistry.
Knauf also met her husband in her first chemistry class at UWSP after becoming lab partners.
“It’s scary,” Knauf said. “It’s like, I feel like I was in a movie.” In her speech, Knauf wants to emulate her optimistic attitude towards life.
“Have fun. Life is a game. You gotta have fun,” Knauf said.
Knauf plans on going to graduate school at Purdue University to get a PhD in medicinal chemistry.
Catherine Kapral, an English education major, was chosen to speak at the 2 p.m. commencement.
Kapral talked about applying to be a speaker in the first place.
“I paused at this box and thought for a moment on my time on campus over the last 5 years. I decided that I thought I had a lot to share,” Kapral said. “The process was a bit nerve wracking but exciting and I was extremely honored to even be given the opportunity to check that box in the first place.”
Kapral’s speech took 5 weeks and 5 drafts until Kapral felt like her speech wasn’t generic, but personal. Kapral is a first generation college student and lost her mother just before freshman year, planned her wedding junior year and was separated from her husband senior year due to the military.
“I understand struggle and strength. I can relate to a lot of experiences that are shared by my graduating class. I began as a traditional student and graduated as a non-traditional student,” Kapral said.
Kapral’s speech itself focuses on transitions and challenges her fellow graduates.
“I’m going to challenge graduates to be more and do more than anyone has ever expected of them. I truly believe that we will rise to meet our expectations,” Kapral said. “My speech ends with three seemingly simple words that I promise and I hope they will also deliver on that promise; challenge, question, care.”
Kapral plans on moving to Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and wants to get a masters degree in education, followed by either a PhD or an administers license.