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Madison Steffen had no intention of attending Winona State University when she agreed to join her friend on a campus tour. That changed immediately when she set foot on campus.

“I was set on attending a different university my senior year of high school,” Steffen said. “As soon as the tour finished and we walked around campus, I knew this was the university where I would spend my next four years.”

A first-generation student from Osceola, Wis., Steffen graduates in May with degrees in Human Resource Management and Business Administration, and a minor in Management.

Of the many great experiences throughout her four years at WSU, her favorite part has been the people she’s met.

“I have found a sense of belonging,” she said. “The faculty and students really care about each other at Winona State.”

The connections she made at WSU include amazing students who helped her become a better person and student; professors who were incredibly helpful and motivating; and professionals within the Winona community who contributed to her professional development.

Her Winona State community and support system has also helped mold her into the confident student she is today.

“The most important thing Winona State has taught me is to get outside of your comfort zone, try new and different things,” she said.

At WSU, Steffen stepped into leadership roles she had never imagined, including the College of Business Dean’s Advisory Board, College of Business John Latsch Leadership Academy, and Society of Human Resource Management.

“I am grateful for the relationships that have developed from those organizations and opportunities for professional growth,” she said. “I am now a more confident and capable student, no longer nervous about speaking up and taking action. Winona State has helped me achieve my goals because it has shaped me into a leader and student that I did not know I could be.”

Steffen is particularly thankful for the guidance she received from College of Business Dean Hamid Akbari.

“Due to his passion and leadership, he encourages me to continuously develop into the type of strong and charismatic leader I want to be.”

Post-graduation, Steffen plans to start in a Human Resources generalist or assistant role to gain experience in a variety of Human Resource functions. Drawn to the public sector, she is applying for state jobs in the Twin Cities area, with a long-term plan of returning to school to earn a master’s degree.

“Hopefully being out in the workforce a few years can draw me towards what degree I would like to specifically pursue,” she said. “I am anxious for what career path I decide to take.”

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 or call University Communications at 507-457-5024.