News Release

Graduation speakers selected

Contact: Daniel Wackershauser, Marketing Specialist
Phone: 608.822.2303
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date: May 14, 2019

Graduation speakers selected

Fennimore -

The student speakers have been selected for this year’s Spring 2019 Graduation ceremonies, which are scheduled for Saturday, May 18. The day will begin at 8 a.m. with the Pinning Ceremony and the Nursing Ceremony. Additional graduation ceremonies will follow at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Each ceremony will be held in the Ag/Auto Tech building and will be live streamed on the Southwest Tech Facebook page. More information about graduation can be found at

Pinning Ceremony – Amanda Thompson

Amanda Thompson, from Montfort, Wisconsin, will be the student speaker during the Pinning Ceremony, which is reserved for students who are members of the Student Nurses Association.

Prior to enrolling at Southwest Tech, Amanda was a benefits generalist at PSSI in Kieler, Wisconsin, and a clinic assistant at a reproductive health care center in Platteville, Dodgeville, and Monroe.

Following graduation, she plans to study and take her boards (NCLEX), and then begin working in her area of interest. She will also be spending some downtime with her family.

While on campus, Amanda was a member of the Student Nurses Association, first-year nursing student president and second-year nursing student president. Additionally, she was the Student Senate representative for first and second-year nursing.

What drew you to your program?

I’ve wanted to be a nurse for many years. Finally being able to take the leap I knew the SWTC ADN program was right for me. I know many amazing nurses who went through the program who recommended SWTC.

Why was Southwest Tech the right choice for you?

SWTC has given me the right education and hands-on experience for me to confidently be the nurse I strive to be. The amazing staff has helped me, taught me, and encouraged me all along the way.

What did you enjoy about your time on campus?

The friendships made with fellow students and staff.

What is your message for your fellow graduates?

Never forget where you came from. We all started somewhere.

What are your future plans?

Be the best nurse I can possibly be!

Nursing Ceremony – Maria Ardestani

Maria Ardestani, a Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin native will be the student speaker for the Nursing Ceremony. Currently residing in Middleton, Wisconsin, Ardestani will be graduating from the nursing program.

Prior to enrollment at Southwest Tech, Ardestani was a supervisor at CBE Companies and head co-chair for the Cedar Valley United Way in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

She is currently hired through the Peak Initiative as the health manager/RN for Lake Valley Summer Camp in Boscobel, Wisconsin. “I am hoping to eventually work in the ICU or ER someday,” she said.

While on campus, Ardestani participated in Careers in Action for the last two years and completed a 90-hour preceptorship at Upland Hills Health Emergency Department through the Southwest Tech preceptor program.

What drew you to your program?

I’ve always wanted to go to school for nursing and originally started that path at Viterbo University. I soon found myself not able to afford to attend that school and eventually dropped out. After almost 10 years out of school, I realized life is too short not to do what you love and what I love to do is help people. I joined this program so I could help and make a difference in people’s lives.

Why was Southwest Tech the right choice for you?

Southwest Tech was affordable and came recommended by my sister-in-law who also graduated from Southwest Tech. She told me about how hard it was going to be, but how wonderful all the instructors are who taught her in the nursing program.

What did you enjoy about your time on campus?

Everyone on campus is just so friendly and so willing to help, you get what you need when you need it. There is always somewhere to study, whether going outside, being in the Knox center, or reserving a room.

What is your message for your fellow graduates?

Take what we have learned here at school, from each other, and our instructors into the real world with us as we continue our journey forward.  We are better because of our experiences, whether they were good or bad. Now we take those experiences with us as we care for our future patients and we are all the better for it.

What are your future plans?

To get a nursing job at a hospital and hopefully eventually become an ER nurse. I plan on continuing my education and getting my BSN and eventually my MSN.

10:30 a.m. – Katie Hughes

Katie Hughes was selected as the graduation speaker for the 10:30 a.m. ceremony. Hughes is earning a degree in the Medical Laboratory Technician program.

Prior to enrolling at Southwest Tech, Hughes lived and worked in Nashville, Tennessee, for seven years.

Following graduation, Hughes’ intention is to pass the ASCP Board of Certification exam and pursue a career in clinical microbiology. And, “maybe take a vacation,” she joked.

Her work on campus also included involvement in Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for Southwest Tech.

What drew you to your program?

I had a desire to enter a field that would continuously challenge me intellectually every day. I am innovative, meticulous, methodical, compassionate, and empathetic, which are all assets in the medical laboratory field. However, the most significant is my desire to learn. The human body fascinates me. I thoroughly enjoy studying physiology and understanding how applied medicine is a never-ending miracle. Medical laboratory professionals dedicate their careers to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease.

Why was Southwest Tech the right choice for you?

SWTC was a good choice for me because it is located close to my family and offered the program I was interested in. SWTC provided all the tools for my success and I was able to maximize my experience because I worked hard and was prepared.

What did you enjoy about your time on campus?

I enjoyed learning about my profession and being around like-minded people.

What is your message for your fellow graduates?

Don’t be clever, seek the truth. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”- Henry Ford

What are your future plans?

My upcoming professional goals are to graduate college with high honors, pass my MLT ASCP boards shortly after, obtain employment, and apply to a college where I will start and finish my bachelor’s degree. My long-term goals are to graduate college with my bachelor’s, pass my MT ASCP boards, and be promoted to additional responsibilities in the laboratory. I have entertained the thought of a pathology assistant or specialize in microbiology, and perhaps once I am working in the lab full-time I will have a better understanding of which direction is right for me.

12:30 p.m. – Reilly LeeAnn Klippel

Reilly LeeAnn Klippel, an Arena, Wisconsin native, will take the stage as the student speaker during the 12:30 p.m. ceremony. She will earn her degree in agribusiness management.

Klippel graduated from River Valley High School in 2017, prior to enrolling at Southwest Tech.

She has secured employment with Cottingham and Butler, an insurance broker in Dubuque, Iowa. She will work as an account service representative, and hopes to move into sales after a few years.

While on campus, Klippel, was involved with the Ag Power Post-secondary Agriculture Students (PAS) on the local, state and national level. She was elected as the Wisconsin PAS state president in the fall of 2017 and then as a national PAS vice-president in the spring of 2018. She served one-year terms in both roles.

She has been working in the campus bookstore two years and has had the opportunity to work for the Southwest Tech Foundation as a Phonathon supervisor.

What drew you to the program?

I have a passion for the people involved in agriculture and helping those who spend their whole lives dedicated to feeding and clothing others.

Why was SWTC the right choice?

I am not the person who can sit through theory classes. I wanted hands-on education about my industry. SWTC is located about an hour away from home, so I am still really close to family. Also, Southwest Tech is far more affordable than four-year schools.

What did you enjoy about your time on campus?

The people here on campus take the time to understand you and as person, you aren’t just a name on a roster. I enjoy that instructors have taken the time to understand me as a person and how that plays into me being the most effective student I can be.

What is your message to the other graduates?

Don’t be afraid to try things that scare you. I have recently accepted a position with a company in a different state. This is so far out of my comfort zone, however I am excited for what this opportunity will bring for me.

What are your future plans?

I have recently taken a position with an insurance broker located in Dubuque, Iowa. I will be working as an account service rep and hope to expand into a management role or sales within five years.

2:30 p.m. – Peter Humphreys

Peter Humphreys, a Lancaster, Wisconsin native, will be the student speaker for the 2:30 p.m. ceremony. He will earn his degree in graphic and web design.

Prior to enrolling at Southwest Tech, Humphreys states, “I was your average farm kid from rural Wisconsin.” He graduated from homeschooling in 2016 and took a semester away from academics before coming to Southwest Tech.

Upon graduating, Humphreys, will continue in his role in the Southwest Tech Marketing Department, during the summer. After that, he intends to continue his education, the specifics of which are not yet clear.

While on campus, Humphreys was employed in the marketing department as a web development assistant and was also a member of the Student Senate.

What drew you to your program?

While I have always been somewhat on the artistic side, graphic design was not a field I had even really heard of, much less considered pursuing as a career. To tell the truth, I really decided to start the program on a bit of a whim, as I felt like I was just spinning in the proverbial mud and wanted to do something with my life.

Why was Southwest Tech the right choice for you?

I really appreciate the no-nonsense, hands-on approach that Southwest Tech takes to education. The small class sizes really allow you to have a much more personal educational experience.  Furthermore, it just really allowed me to get my feet wet in the world of higher education and figure out what I wanted to do without spending an egregious amount of money in the process.

What did you enjoy about your time on campus?

I am very grateful for the time I was able to spend with my classmates.  The small class sizes really facilitated relationship building and allowed us to develop an almost family-like comradery. I was also very lucky to have two very talented, incredible instructors – Katie Anderson and Krystal Forde as well as a great boss – Mike Steffel, during my time as a student worker.

What is your message for your fellow graduates?

I would have to say just keep working hard. Nothing worth having is going to come easy. Set tangible goals and work towards achieving them. While those are extremely clichéd colloquialisms; they are also principles that have really helped me succeed.

What are your future plans?

I am tentatively planning on pursuing a degree in computer science. I do enjoy graphic design and certainly hope to utilize my degree to some capacity in the future. However, my position as a web development assistant in the college’s marketing department has really fostered a deep interest in programming and computers in general.



Posted in Agriculture, For District Board, General, Medical Lab Technician