News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Daniel Wackershauser, Marketing Specialist
Phone: 608.822.2303
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: November 29, 2023

Fall Commencement set for Dec. 15

Fennimore -

It’s that time of year again. The fall commencement at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College will be held Friday, Dec. 15. This year, there will be separate ceremonies at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the auditorium. Each ceremony will be streamed live on Southwest Tech’s Facebook page. Complete details can be found at

This semester, there are 79 program students expected to graduate, and 50 will be attending commencement. “It’s always exciting to honor our graduates who have achieved this milestone,” said Dr. Jason Wood, president of Southwest Tech. “Their hard work and determination will pay off soon as they walk across that stage. I wish all of the grads well as they get high-wage jobs or successfully transfer to a university.”

This semester’s student speakers include Allison Schulist, an Associate Degree – Nursing student, and Ryley P. Lancaster, a Cosmetology student. Jim Schweigert, president of Gro Alliance, will serve as the guest speaker at both ceremonies. Kyle Roesch, Southwest Tech’s most recent state student ambassador, will also be speaking at both ceremonies.

Student speaker: Allison Schulist – 1 p.m. ceremony

Allison Schulist

Hometown: Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Program: ADN Nursing

What drew you to Southwest Tech and to your program?

Southwest Tech has an abundance of opportunities for their students that cannot be matched at any other technical school in the area. The nursing program, though tough, has some of the most dedicated and passionate instructors I have ever known. The school itself provides resources to students of all kinds; traditional and nontraditional. The aura and reputation SWTC has in the area and displays to the community is admirable for a small-town technical college.

What did you enjoy about your time at Southwest Tech?

I enjoyed my instructors and my classmates while attending Southwest Tech. The areas provided to students for studying are cozy and create a comfortable environment for all faculty, staff, and students. Students participate in many activities, and the school shows their students that they care about them and their education.

What will be your message to the graduates?

My message to graduates will be: as we graduate, we realize that we have dug a hole. Our digging tools may have included a big shovel, a spade, or a small spoon. Some may have hit rocks, ran into some clay, or had to worm their way around a boulder in the ground. Despite the tools used and the ground we dug through, we accomplished digging our hole. Now, as we graduate, we will be placing a seed in that hole and covering it back up. You may ask, what is next for me after graduation? When we leave this auditorium, we only have a seed in the hole. As we prepare to get a job, take our boards, and figure out what life is like outside of school, we are covering the hole with our seed in it. When we finally get that job we worked so hard for, we get to add some water. Every experience and accomplishment in our career grows our personal tree. Graduation is just the beginning, the second step to creating that big, beautiful tree we are working so hard towards.

What are your plans after graduation?

Following graduation, I accepted a position as a med-surg nurse at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. I plan to take my boards at the beginning of the year, get married, build a home, and start my career. My long-term goal is to go back and receive my Nurse Practioner license and practice in the area; providing safe and effective care to all my patients.

Student speaker: Ryley P. Lancaster – 3 p.m. ceremony

Ryler P. Lancaster

Hometown: Darlington, Wisconsin

Program: Cosmetology

What drew you to Southwest Tech and to your program?

What drew me to Southwest Tech was the inviting atmosphere, the hands-on learning, and the affordable tuition. I was drawn into the cosmetology program because I have always had a passion for helping people and doing hair. I also fell in love with the program once I met the instructors and my classmates.

What did you enjoy about your time at Southwest Tech?

What I enjoyed the most about my time at Southwest Tech was making new friendships that will last a lifetime. I also enjoyed meeting new people in the salon and getting to hear the different stories they had to share.

What will be your message to the graduates?

The message that I would like to get across to the graduates is that while we may be graduating with an associate degree or technical diploma, that does not mean we cannot change our minds in the future or have our dreams change. At the end of the day, as long as we are doing what we are passionate about and we are all living a happy life, we will be successful in the long run.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I plan on working for a salon around my hometown so that way I can not only stay close to my friends and family but be able to give back to the community. I also plan on working at my current job and starting a new career in the cosmetology industry.

Guest speaker

Jim Schweigert is a third-generation seedsman and president of Gro Alliance, the largest independently owned seed supply chain solutions provider in North America. The company specializes in seed production, custom seed breeding and aggregating growers for closed-loop and value added seed products. It also has a joint-venture in Chile, called CIS Alliance, where it offers custom seed breeding services in row crops, oil seeds and vegetables.

Jim Schweigert

The company launched Breeder Direct in 2020 to provide corn and soybean germplasm to seed companies.

Schweigert also serves as a board advisor for the soybean breeding company, ZeaKal.

Before coming back to the family business in 2003, Schweigert worked at corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta.

He was honored as the 2009 recipient of Seed World magazine’s “Future Giant.” He served as the chair of the non-profit, Seed Programs International from 2014 to 2017. He was also the regional vice president to Canada for the executive board of the American Seed Trade Association and the Canadian Seed Trade Association from 2009 to 2015 and again from 2017 to 2020. He is the immediate past chair of ASTA and serves on its board of directors.

Schweigert has a BA in public relations from the University of Minnesota and an MS in seed technology and business from Iowa State.

State Student Ambassador – Kyle Roesch

Kyle Roesch, the most recent state student ambassador at Southwest Tech, will speak during each commencement ceremony.

Kyle Roesch

Roesch graduated in May with a degree in Electro-Mechanical Technology. He previously earned a degree in Agribusiness Science and Technology – Agribusiness Management in 2017 from Southwest Tech.

Roesch continued his Southwest Tech education to build on his career goals. “Choosing the Electro-Mech and Instrumentation and Controls Technology programs I can apply things I already know mechanically, but enhance them into a more integrated system,” he said.

A high-demand career field was another reason Roesch decided to return to college. “Southwest Tech puts you in front of those options all the time,” he said. “There’s so many options that you can take with Southwest Tech.”

Roesch grew up on the family farm in rural Lancaster. Coming into the programs, he had some electrical experience from working on the farm. “I didn’t understand the background of it,” he said. “How electricity works and how things need to be set up the way they need to be set up.”

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