Pure academic talent, fierce determination, and a drive to make an impact, our Spring 2021 graduates are truly impressive.

We’ve rounded up a few of their stories and can’t wait to see what they accomplish next.

Pursuing Success

An international student from Tianjin, China, Zijie Liu says her time at WSU was tightly surrounded by kindness, which helped the transition into an English-speaking learning community and allowed her to excel in Composite Materials Engineering.

Turning Grief Into Determination

Becoming a nurse was always Kaylee Bayer’s dream, but she found herself questioning whether to attend WSU when her mom was hospitalized before Move-In Day. With determination and support, she’s set to make an impact as a nurse at Mayo Clinic.

Using Experience to Inspire 

With difficult experiences in his past, Jose Valtierra-Rangel decided on a career in social work as a way to inspire youth by relating to their challenges. Now, set to graduate and accepted into WSU’s Master of Social Work program, he’s one step closer.

Impacting Local Water Quality

Graduating a year early with a degree in Geoscience, Megan Otten contributed to research impacting water quality in southern Minnesota and mapped out the next step in her career – jumping straight into an internship and master’s program after graduation.

Making Every Moment Count 

Armed with a hard work ethic learned from her mother, Diana Tapia Alvarado was determined to make the most of her time at WSU. As a Social Work and Spanish double major, her goal is to work with and advocate for children who’ve led challenging lives.

Crossing the Finish Line

Fighting through anxiety and depression, Michael Desch pushed himself toward the finish line while not beating himself up along the way. Always offering words of wisdom and internal exploration, Desch is honored as WSU’s Spring 2021 Commencement speaker.

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Tesla Mitchell

Named after the 80's rock band, Tesla Mitchell has a decade of experience covering local news and features as a journalist in Winona. A Saint Mary's University alumna, Tesla graduated with a bachelor's degree in Journalism with an emphasis in political science and entrepreneurship. During her free time, Tesla enjoys organizing block parties, being a super mom and an avid heavy weightlifter.