Commencement speeches are often inspiring, but sometimes skew toward being a little dry. Wauwatosan Tanya Keenan plans to break out of that mold when she delivers her wisdom to the winter graduates at Mount Mary University Saturday, Dec. 17.
"In our mission statement at Mount Mary it states that the purpose of education is to transform young women to change the world and that really resonates with me. I think it is something we do really well here," Keenan said. "To transform you need to be brave, you need to be brilliant and you need to be bold. So those are the things I will be talking about in my speech."
Living in west Wauwatosa with her husband Jake and their three kids, Olivia, 15, Janessa, 13, and Melina, 11, Keenan works as an adjunct instructor at Mount Mary, teaching English composition since 2011.
"I’m a storyteller; I like to keep things a little goofy, a little lighter," Keenan said. "My intention is for each student in my class to feel like I see her."
Keenan said graduation day at Mount Mary University is not about her but it is about the graduates and that thought has shaped her preparation for the commencement speech.
Co-worker Karen Friedlen said she can't wait to hear the commencement speech because she regularly witnesses students become energized by Keenan's enthusiasm.
"Tanya takes information about a student and transforms it into something that is creative and applicable to their lives in a way that allows them to succeed," said Friedlen, vice president for academic and student affairs. "(She) has that attitude that anything can be accomplished and she communicates that so effectively to her students."
A native of Green Bay, Keenan and her family moved to Wauwatosa by chance after she graduated from UW-Madison in 1997 and earned her master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1998.
"We moved to Tosa in fall of 2004 and it was just luck of the draw," Keenan said "It has been the most wonderful accident we could have made; it’s been fantastic."
The Keenan family enjoys biking the parkway in the summer, hitting the Mayfair Collection shops and restaurants throughout the year and hanging out with family and friends.
Teaching is what Keenan plans to do with her future, but for now she really enjoys her role at Mount Mary and is happy to be at an institution that is nurturing and has a faculty that is invested in the students.
"It has given me a lot of joy, it’s never dull," Keenan said "It a lovely environment."