The WSU Class of 2019 is one to be remembered. Here’s some highlights from graduating students as they look back on their experiences at WSU and give a little advice to their first-year selves — and us all, really.

Congratulations, Class of 2019!

David Moonen

David Mooned

David Moonen is graduating with a degree in commercial recreation and is the CEO of Merrimack Canoe Company. He started working at Merrimack Canoe Company during his sophomore year cutting fabric and was offered this full-time CEO position by his senior year.

David’s advice to his freshman self: “Slow down”.

Read more about David’s experience at WSU.


Christine Salentiny

Christine Salentiny reads a book with a child.

Christine Salentiny is graduating with a degree in Elementary Education. She enjoyed her time at WSU, and whether Christine was in class or having fun with her friends, she always felt at home. After graduation, she looks forward to becoming a kindergarten teacher at Lake-Brewster Elementary School.

Christine’s advice to her freshman self: “Don’t stay up so late! Go hiking or explore the town. Pet more dogs <3!”

Read more about Christine’s experience at WSU.


Kimberly Lee

Kimberly Lee

Kimberly Lee is graduating with a major in mathematics secondary teaching and plans to work as a math teacher.

The most important thing WSU taught her is “if you do not educate yourself on issues, people will talk to the left of you, to the right of you, over you, under you and right through you. After hearing this, I was motivated to connect with my identity of being a Hmong, Asian-American, a woman and part of the LGBTQ+. With my intersectionality, I chose to use the platform of being President of HASA to advocate for the Hmong student voices on campus including our culture, history and issues we face on the daily”.

Read more about Kimberly’s experience at WSU.


Brett Thomas Strub

Brett Thomas Strub

Brett Thomas Strub is graduating with a major in nursing and aspires to be a registered nurse.

The most important thing WSU taught him is that “there is always someone there to have your back. There is only so much a person can bear on their own through whatever their endeavors may be. The WSU community is very supportive and has taught me not to be afraid to ask for help in achieving success in my endeavors”.

Read more about Brett’s experience at WSU.


Rashini Punchihewa

Rashini Punchihewa is graduating with a major in Business Administration and is starting her career as an entry level manager at DMC Marketing.

Her advice to other students: “Get involved and commit to the organizations. You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Reach out when you need help. People are here to help and you do not need to struggle on your own”.

Read more about Rashini’s experience at WSU.


Alexander Holm

Alexander Holm is graduating with a major in ACS Biochemistry and is applying to dental school.

His advice for students coming into WSU is “You get out what you put into it. If you work hard and put in the effort you will accomplish great things. Also, don’t be afraid to be involved in clubs, leadership roles, and even study groups”.

Read more about Alex’s experience at WSU.


Julia Jones

Julia Jones is graduating with a major in Special Education: Developmental Disabilities and Academic Behavioral Strategist. She is starting her career as a middle school special education teacher.

Her favorite part of her WSU experience: “The WSU staff. The Special Education program has amazing staff that worked their hardest to teach me about my future career. I also really enjoyed all of the clubs that I was able to participate in. UPAC, KDP, WFTK and SILA were all so fantastic.”

Read more about Julia’s experience at WSU.


Gilbert Obiero

Gilbert Obiero

Gilbert Obiero is graduating with a Major in Public Health with and emphasis on Epidemiology. He is starting his career off with a position as a community health worker at Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association.

His advice to his freshman self: “Decide which major you want and work on it. Don’t waste time doing something you don’t like”.

Read more about Gilbert’s experience at WSU.


Lexie Adamsky

Lexie Adamsky is graduating with a degree in nursing. Lexie was always proud to represent WSU by wearing her purple scrubs at clinic sites. After graduation, she looks forward to becoming a psychiatric nurse at Mayo Clinic.

Lexie’s advice to her freshman self: “You will always have people cheering you on and to be there to help you.”

Read more about Lexie’s experience at WSU.


Jordan Langness

Jordan Langness

Jordan Langness is graduating with a major in Composite Materials Engineering. He is starting his career off as an Associate Manufacturing Engineer at Northrop Grumman.

To Jordan, the most influential thing about WSU was: “The approachability of all of the professors was far better than I expected. They were all easy to talk to and always had good advice.”

Read more about Jordan’s experience at WSU.


Erin Kloepping

Erin Kloepping

Erin Kloepping is graduating with a degree in communication studies, and she looks forward to becoming a project manager for Thirty Story.

Her advice to students: “You don’t have to have the rest of your life planned out — or even the next four years. Just focus on today. Whenever I feel overwhelmed my mom always asks, ‘How do you eat a giant elephant?’ And every time she says, ‘One bite at a time.’ Focus on what’s in front of you and find joy in the little things.”

Read more about Erin’s experience at WSU.


Hallie Riedel

Hallie Riedel is graduating with a degree in community health and loved her experience at Winona State.

She’s thankful that WSU prepared her for her career: “I am excited to be an alumna going out in the world and saying I learned a lot of what I know from the educators and mentors here at WSU. There is a lot of bad in this world. But Winona State makes me believe that there is more good than bad. I know WSU will always be a place I can call home and I am extremely proud to be a Warrior.”

After graduation, Hallie looks forward to working in programs and communication for Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation.

Read more about Hallie’s experience at WSU.


Reagan Holm

Reagan Holm is graduating with a Major in History and plans to be an educator. For Reagan, WSU helped her achieve her goals by: “having caring faculty that were always willing to listen to me and come up with solutions or plans to my problems. I connected with so many great human beings that teach at WSU and I owe so much of my success to them”.

Read more about Reagan’s experience at WSU.


Caleb Gernes

Caleb Gernes

Caleb Gernes is graduating with a degree in marketing. Caleb got marketing experience at WSU working on projects for companies like WNB Financial. After graduation, Caleb looks forward to a job in sales located in Savannah, Georgia.

Caleb wishes he could tell his freshman self: “I would say to take my classes more seriously freshman year. Grades here really do matter.”

Read more about Caleb’s experience at WSU.


Karen Sullivan

Karen Sullivan is graduating with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood & Elementary Education/Sociology as well as a Master’s in Professional Leadership. She looks forward to becoming the Interim Director of the WSU’s Children Center following graduation.

Karen reflects on her WSU experience: “The professors and fellow graduate students have contributed to my academic success. Their patience and encouragement to extend beyond my limits and willingness to walk the walk with me… The WSU community has a core culture of respect and relationship, and I experienced it during my program.”

Read more about Karen’s experience at WSU.


Juan Manuel Rojas Cabrera

Juan Manuel Rojas Cabrera is graduating with a degree in nursing and will join the Graduate Research Program in Neural Engineering at Mayo Clinic. On why he chose WSU, Juan says: “I think the biggest factor that ultimately led me to WSU was the community.”

Read more about Juan’s experience at WSU.

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–Jake Eberhard