A senior from Sun Prairie who triumphed in college despite a rocky start will be the student speaker for the winter commencement ceremony at UW-Whitewater.
Michael Mifflin was chosen to address about 830 of his fellow graduates and their families in the ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, in Kachel Fieldhouse.
He hopes to inspire his classmates with confidence for their futures by sharing his own experiences. It's the same tactic he used in his three years as a resident assistant guiding younger students in campus residence halls.
"What do you want to do with your college experience?'' he likes to ask.
He's answered his own question by finding a major he loves and embracing leadership opportunities. He is a member of the Hawk Squad, the energetic student orientation team (pictured below), and serves as a Warhawk Ambassador, representing the university at special events.
Mifflin also has been promotional manager for the German Club, vice president of the National Residence Hall Honorary, president of the Association of Resident Assistants and a member of Rho Alpha Sigma, the national honor society for resident assistants. He has served on the nine-person Purple Pit Crew, which helps guide freshmen through Club U-Dub-Dub as they begin college at UW-Whitewater.
His own first semester was rough. He signed up for six classes with 18 credits and got involved in too many activities. "I thought I could handle it because I thought it would be like high school,'' he said. "I was very wrong, but it was a good learning experience.''
He rebuilt his grade point average, learned to balance involvement with academics and thrived with the personal support of professors who encouraged him.
"The faculty and staff at UW-Whitewater are so supportive of the students,'' he said. "They take a genuine interest in what you're doing."
Mifflin is majoring in media arts and game development, an innovative program offered by the College of Arts and Communication at UW-Whitewater.
"It's not just making video games. It's so much more than that,'' he said. "It's creativity. It's adapting to the future, adapting to technology and trying to find your place in the future.''
He's gaining skills in communication, website design and interactive media that he trusts will serve him well in any career. He plans to attend graduate school in a higher education and student affairs program.
As he prepares for the biggest public speaking opportunity of his life, Mifflin is planning to share a message about the future that his classmates can appreciate.
"The message is that never giving up and working hard has gotten all of us to this spot,'' he said. He'll urge his fellow graduates to "pursue your vision of excellence.''
Mifflin, a graduate of Sun Prairie High School, is the son of Steve and Diana Mifflin and the brother of Daniel, a junior at UW-La Crosse. They'll be in the commencement audience, with his grandparents from Kentucky who will see their first grandchild graduate from college.