Tanner Von Ruden never imagined he would attend college. The Cashton, Wis., native wasn’t even planning on applying. But after some strong encouragement from his mother, Von Ruden began looking into Winona State University.

“I applied to WSU, got accepted, and I still wasn’t going to go,” he recalled. Again, his mother stepped in with some advice, persuading Von Ruden to attend for at least one semester to see if he liked it.

“Fall semester in 2014 I met some of my closest friends,” he said. “And now four years later, I’m going to graduate, so that’s cool.”

Through the experience, Von Ruden learned that life can be unpredictable, and it’s important to be able to go with the flow.

“Life isn’t always going to go the way you plan, and some people will not stay in your life more than a semester,” he said. “All of which is perfectly okay.”

Ultimately, attending WSU was an opportunity to explore his independence, meet new people from across the globe, and learn how to balance work, life and fun, said Von Ruden.

“It will be hard to leave Winona,” he said. “I’m leaving a great community of people behind me.”

Von Ruden listed his mentors as Dr. Gerald Cichanowski and Dr. Sudharsan Iyengar from the Computer Science Department, and Dr. Matthew Hyle in Economics, among others.

“[My] professors focused on the real-life application of the information they taught. They prepared me for the real world and accepted me, which demonstrated how much they believed I could succeed,” he said. “I’m glad to have these professors as resources. When I have questions about almost any topic, they are ready to give me any information they have.”

Von Ruden will graduate this spring with a degree in Applied Computer Science. He knows the lessons he learned at Winona State will serve him well as he begins the job search and prepares for the next leg of his journey.

“WSU ultimately taught me that sometimes the decision you make has to make you happy in the end, not anyone else,” he said. “But always listen to your mother.”

WSU Spring Commencement Ceremonies will take place Friday, May 4, in McCown Gymnasium on the Winona campus. The 9 a.m. ceremony will feature the College of Business and College of Science and Engineering. The 12:30 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts. The 4 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Von Ruden was selected by the WSU Student Senate as one of three student speakers for the ceremonies and will deliver the student address at the 9 a.m. ceremony.

WSU Spring Commencement Ceremonies will take place Friday, May 4, in McCown Gymnasium on the Winona campus. The 9 a.m. ceremony will feature the College of Business and College of Science and Engineering. The 12:30 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts. The 4 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

For more information, visit winona.edu/graduation or call University Communications at 507-457-5024.

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