male and female graduates standing outside holding diplomas

Hundreds Graduate in Nicolet College’s 54th Annual Graduation Ceremony 


The goal of earning a college credential became reality for several hundred newly-minted college graduates as Nicolet College recently held its 54th annual spring graduation ceremony.  

“Earning a college credential is a valuable accomplishment and one that each graduate will proudly carry with them for the rest of their lives,” said Nicolet College President Kate Ferrel. “The skills graduates possess are exactly what they need to enter the workforce and enjoy successful careers or to continue their education at four-year colleges and universities.” 

For former prison inmate and student graduation speaker Josh Newman, graduation day was especially telling. 

“One year ago today, to this day, I got released from prison,” Newman told all attending the ceremony in the Hodag Dome. 

“Nicolet College has given me a chance to actually prove something, to give back to my own community through my education, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Just the fact that they chose me to come here and speak is an incredible honor. I really appreciate everything Nicolet has done for me and I want to do my best to give back as well.” 

 A few years ago, Newman was actually expelled from Rhinelander High School and was later arrested for selling methamphetamine. For the crime, he was sentenced to two years in prison. 

While in prison he started hanging out in the prison barbershop, where he started to learn how to cut hair and decided he liked doing that – a lot. 

So, upon his release he returned to Rhinelander and enrolled in Nicolet’s Cosmetology program to get his life back on track, graduating with the class of 2023. 

“Everybody at Nicolet, they are awesome, so involved with just not my academics but also my personal life because I’ve shared it with them and every time I asked for help, they were there for me,” he said. 

Newman also recently had an icing-on-the-cake moment, taking home a gold medal in the Barbering category in a recent competition sponsored by SkillsUSA, a national partnership organization that brings together students, teachers and industry professionals who work together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. 

Another student graduation speaker was also thankful for the Nicolet education she received and all of the opportunities that lie ahead now that she and her classmates are college graduates. 

“Attending Nicolet College was one of the best decisions I have ever made, it truly has changed my life,” said University Transfer Liberal Arts graduate Brynlei Kuhn. 

Nicolet has given me countless opportunities to grow academically and personally, the opportunity to connect with others, get real life experience, to start our careers, and most importantly, chase our dreams.” 

Many graduates will enter the workforce with the skills necessary to build better lives for themselves and help grow the Northwoods economy. Other graduates will transfer their Nicolet credits to a four-year campus on their road to a bachelor’s degree and then the workforce.