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St. Norbert College Announces Commencement Details

From St. Norbert College, April 30, 2019
by Mike Counter, mike.counter@snc.edu, 920-403-3089

Frank Shankwitz, co-founder and first president of the Make-A-Wish® Foundation, will be the St. Norbert College commencement speaker on Sunday, May 12, at 1:30 p.m., in the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center on the college’s De Pere campus. Shankwitz will also receive an honorary degree. Livestreaming of commencement events from St. Norbert College will be available at http://www.snc.edu/commencement/.

Mike Van Asten, chair of the St. Norbert College Board of Trustees, will authorize the conferring of master’s and baccalaureate degrees; St. Norbert College President Brian Bruess will award the degrees and diplomas with the assistance of Jeffrey Frick, dean of the college and academic vice president. There are 560 students in the 2019 graduating class, including 537 candidates for baccalaureate degrees and 23 candidates for master’s degrees, which includes 20 from the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

Tom Durkin, 68 years old, will be included in the group of baccalaureate degrees. The legendary horse racing announcer, who called the Triple Crown on NBC for many years, left St. Norbert in 1973, two classes shy of graduating to begin his announcing career. Durkin, who lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., finished the two classes needed to graduate earlier this school year and will receive his bachelor of arts degree on May 12.

The student speaker at commencement is graduating senior Jasmine Yasmine Tremaine Babineaux of Lafayette, La. Babineaux majored in writing and business management.

The national anthem will be sung by graduating senior Kiera Matthews of West Bend, Wis., with graduating senior Sarah Hanna of Luxemburg, Wis., serving as student honor conductor.

Commencement Speaker

In 1972, Frank Shankwitz started his career with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, assigned to the Arizona Highway Patrol. There, his interest in working with children began as a coach for the Special Olympics program. He also visited local grade schools to talk about bicycle safety and let the children sit on his highway patrol-motorcycle.

Shankwitz was one of the primary officers from the Arizona Highway Patrol who was responsible for granting the wish of Chris Greicius, a 7-year-old boy with leukemia who wanted to be a highway patrol motorcycle officer like his heroes, Ponch and John from the television show “CHiPs.” Greicius was made the first and only honorary Arizona Highway Patrol member, complete with a custom-made uniform, badge and Motor Officer wings. He succumbed to his illness a few days after receiving his wish and was buried with full police honors in Illinois, with Shankwitz leading the police funeral procession.

Greicius was the inspiration for Shankwitz’s idea to start a nonprofit foundation that would let children make a wish and have it come true. In 1980, Shankwitz, along with his wife, Kitty, and several others, founded the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Thirty-nine years later, Make-A-Wish grants wishes through 62 chapters located throughout the United States and operates in 45 other countries around the world. Since its founding, the nonprofit foundation has granted approximately 480,000 wishes to children worldwide. Make-A-Wish granted 15,600 wishes last year alone – on average, one every 34 minutes.

Shankwitz is a notable public speaker and was recognized as the No. 1 keynote speaker in 2016 by Forbes Magazine. He is the author of two books, “Wish Man” and “Once Upon A Wish.” A major motion picture, based on Shankwitz’s books and life, has been filmed and will be released in 2019.

Travis Vanden Heuvel, a 2009 St. Norbert College alumnus and President and chief executive officer of TitleTown Publishing, acquired the rights for “Wish Man” in 2018 and recently announced that the national launch of Shankwitz’s first children’s book, “Wishes Don’t Wash Dishes,” will take place in De Pere, Wis., in May.


St. Norbert College History

The only Norbertine college in the world, St. Norbert is a four-year, Catholic liberal arts institution nestled beside the Fox River in De Pere, Wis., neighboring Green Bay. Founded in 1898, the college became coeducational in 1952. Today, the residential campus serves approximately 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students, hailing from throughout the United States and nearly 20 countries.

Recent years have seen record enrollments and unprecedented investments in the St. Norbert campus. The academic excellence of the college is nationally recognized by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Princeton Review and others. For more information, go to www.snc.edu/about.

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