Wayne State College will hold commencement ceremonies for graduate and undergraduate students on Saturday, May 7 in the college’s historic Willow Bowl amphitheater.
The graduate student ceremony will be at 10 a.m. and the undergraduate ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the ceremonies will be held in Rice Auditorium.
A total of 618 degrees will be conferred by Wayne State President Marysz Rames. Those students receiving their degrees include 419 undergraduates and 199 graduate students. Graduate students are earning their degrees from the college’s Master of Science in Education, Master of Science in Organizational Management, Master of Business Administration, Counseling, and Education Specialist programs.
The graduate ceremony will feature an invocation by President Rames. Carter “Cap” Peterson, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State College System, will bring greetings from the board; and master’s candidate Kiara Rose Hochstein of Wayne will deliver remarks.
The undergraduate ceremony will feature an invocation by bachelor’s candidate Nallely Sofia Maldonado of South Sioux City, Neb.; Carter “Cap” Peterson, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State College System, will bring greetings from the board; Dr. Mark Hammer, professor of biology, will receive the State Nebraska Bank & Trust Teaching Excellence Award; and Robert Steele, mayor of Grand Island, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award and deliver remarks.
Kiara Hochstein of Wayne will deliver the student address for the graduate commencement ceremony.
She is graduating with a Master of Science in Organizational Management in Human Performance and Wellness Management. She graduated Magna cum Laude from Wayne State in 2020 with a B.S. in Exercise Science, a minor in Foods and Nutrition, and a Coaching Endorsement.
As an undergraduate, she was on the Dean’s List for three years and was a member of the Philomathean Presidential Honors Society and Catholic Newman Club. She was a member of the 2017 Rugby 15’s National Championship team.
Hochstein plans to continue enhancing her skills as a corrective exercise specialist to make a positive impact on the patients and athletes she works with, as well as pursue educating students at the collegiate level.
She is the daughter of Dale and Laura Hochstein of Wayne. Her grandmother, Mary Lucille Mitchell, graduated from Nebraska State Teachers College at Wayne in 1956. Her father, Dale, earned his undergraduate degree from WSC in 1979, and his graduate degree in 1992. Her mother, Laura, is a 1981 graduate of WSC. Her sister, Kristin Hochstein, graduated from WSC in 2005.
Nallely Maldonado of South Sioux City will deliver the invocation for the undergraduate commencement ceremony.
She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Reading and Writing endorsement. Maldonado earned a 4.0 GPA and was on the Dean’s List all four years of her WSC education.
After graduation, she will begin her teaching career at Irving Elementary in Sioux City, Iowa as the second grade Spanish teacher. She also plans to continue her education by pursuing her master's degree. Most importantly, she plans to continue working hard to accomplish all of her dreams.
Maldonado is the daughter of María Santos and Ramon Maldonado of South Sioux City. She is married to Horacio Vallecillo.
Alumni Achievement Award and Remarks
Roger Steele will receive the Alumni Achievement Award from the Wayne State Foundation during the undergraduate commencement ceremony. He graduated from Wayne State with a bachelor’s degree in pre-law studies in 1979.
Steele was born in Bassett and graduated from high school in Pierce. He attended Creighton University School of Law from 1981 until 1984, when he received his J.D. degree. Steele’s areas of practice of law include representing insurance companies, businesses, private individuals, and school districts.
Steele was elected to the Grand Island City Council in 2014. He was elected mayor of Grand Island, a city of 53,135 residents, in November 2018. As mayor, Steele has directed an historic amount of public works for his growing city. Additionally, he has worked with Wayne State to develop a cooperative education program, which will allow WSC students to take paid internships in Grand Island businesses during the students’ senior year. This program has enthusiastic support from Grand Island businesses because they want the opportunity to hire hard-working Wayne State students.
Steele and his wife, Liana, practice law at Steele Law Office in Grand Island. They have twin daughters, Leslie and Laura.
Honored Retiring Faculty
Dr. Paul Karr,
Professor of Chemistry
Dr. Paul Karr began teaching at Wayne State College in August of 1993. He earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Wichita State University in 1993, and his bachelor’s of science degree from Missouri Southern State University in 1975. He taught chemistry at Wayne State.
During his Wayne State career, Karr advised the Chemistry Club, Rodeo Club, College Republicans, and was co-advisor of the Science Fiction Club. He served on the Faculty Senate and various campus committees.
Karr is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Nebraska Academy of Science, and the American Association of University Professors.
“The most rewarding aspect of working at Wayne State College has been interaction in both the classroom and laboratory with the wonderful Wayne State students,” Karr said.
Jeff Meyer, Instructor
Jeff Meyer began working as an instructor in the Health, Human Performance and Sport Department at Wayne State College in 2001. He earned his master of science in education degree from Wayne State in 1996 and his bachelor’s degree from Chadron State College in 1980. He taught intercollegiate athletics/compliance, sports marketing, and the business of professional sports at Wayne State.
Meyer served as the co-director of the Students Pursuing Occupations Related to Sports (SPORTS) Club and a volunteer with the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Before coming to Wayne State College, he served as an associate athletics counselor at the University of Wyoming from January 1997 to August 2001.
“I have greatly appreciated the rewarding experience of working at Wayne State where I could teach students and they could apply those lessons immediately outside the classroom,” Meyer said.
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