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May 3, 2002

Hegstrom Selected as UW-RF Commencement Speaker

River Falls resident James Hegstrom has been selected to deliver the commencement address for UW-River Falls on May 25.

Hegstrom, a double-major in marketing communications and business communications, becomes the seventh graduating senior in the modern history of the University to be invited to deliver the commencement address.

Commencement is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, in the Robert P. Knowles Physical Education & Recreation Center. Some 597 bachelor's and master's candidates are expected to participate in a ceremony that will be witnessed by some 5,000 friends and family members.

Hegstrom's speech is titled, "Pursuing Happiness? Start Running." In his address, Hegstrom will take note of the events that occurred since September 11 and America's recovery. In his speech, he will speak to the role that the new graduates will assume in moving the nation forward. "My address acknowledges and interprets our rights, privileges and obligations associated with the degrees we will receive."

Hegstrom was selected for the honor of delivering the commencement address by Chancellor Ann Lydecker on the recommendation of the Faculty Senate External Relations Committee. Each spring semester all commencing undergraduates are invited to apply for the privilege. They must include a letter of support from two faculty members, a resume, and a draft of their proposed speech. The committee reviews the applications, invites students to do deliver their speech in an audition, and then sends a recommendation to the chancellor, who approves the selection and extends the invitation to speak.

Speech Professor Suzanne Hagen, in recommending Hegstrom to deliver the address, noted that he began school on a part-time basis but then quit his job and relocated to River Falls to enroll full-time. "I've never seen his educational commitment waiver; he's an exemplar to both students and faculty for his drive, perseverance and positive outlook."

Said nominator Professor James Pratt, "James has overcome a good deal of adversity in his life, and the result is that he has become a strong and effective advocate for people with disabilities. His credibility to speak on such subjects is obvious, and he does so in a confident and reasonable manner.

"In my view, James is an excellent representative of the level of diversity and achievement that we value on this campus,"

During the commencement ceremony, Hegstrom also will be recognized for achieving Senior Honors for his academic performance. While at UW-RF, he has served on the Chancellor's Disability Advisory Committee, was recognized by faculty in the speech communication and theater department with membership in the National Communication Association, and he has been active in the Marketing Communications Club.

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