UW has announced 2017 graduate and international soccer star Rose Lavelle as the featured speaker for the 2020 Winter Commencement on December 13th. Lavelle joins fellow Badger athletes JJ Watt, Russell Wilson and Pat Richter as the only athletes ever to give commencement speeches for the University of Wisconsin, and is the first female athlete to ever receive this honor.
Lavelle, a 2017 graduate who majored in sociology and a four-year starter for the Badgers Women’s Soccer team, was a 2015 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy semifinalist, two-time Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, Big Ten Freshman of the Year as well as a First-Team All-American.
The university also announced that they will later “find an opportunity,” for future in-person celebration events, as the over 2,000 degrees will be bestowed virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.
“I’m excited to speak with the graduates at UW, all of whom are working to achieve some important goals.” said Lavelle. “ Madison has always been a second home for me. The opportunity to give back to the school that gave so much to me is just a tremendous honor."
Lavelle started her soccer career at Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she was named Cincinnati’s Athlete of the Year as well as Ohio Sports Woman of the Year.
The Cincinnati native gained prominence after scoring the winning goal for the United States in the 2019 World Cup Finals in France. Lavelle was granted the tournament’s Bronze Ball to honor her performance as the third best player in the World Cup.
In the National Women’s Soccer League 2017 collegiate draft, the former Badger star was chosen first overall by the Boston Breakers. She started her professional career scoring two goals in her first eight games as a Breaker, and earned Player of the Month honors for April.
Lavelle was again a first overall pick in a 2018 dispersal draft by the Washington Spirit. Even though her second year was marred by injury as well as her service on the US National team, Lavelle was named to the 2019 FIFA FIFPro World XI even though she only played in six total games for the Spirit.
Lavelle signed with the Manchester City Women’s Football Club ahead of the 2020-21 Football Association Women’s Super League, which is the highest level of women’s soccer played in England.
Addressing the disappointment of the commencement ceremony only being available virtually, Bukowiec said "While we cannot come together in one physical space, we will still cheer for the achievements of our graduates as one class. I am confident Badgers know how to celebrate each other wherever we are, no matter the circumstance,”
Bukowiec says the Senior Class Office will be working closely with University leadership to ensure a quality virtual commencement for all winter graduates. "We are thrilled Rose Lavelle will be speaking to graduates this winter. Rose is an extraordinary University of Wisconsin alum who is not only a world champion player on the field but a champion off the field as an advocate for gender equality and equal pay in professional sports,” says Bukowiec. "I am excited to hear about Rose's incredible success and how her time at the University of Wisconsin helped her reach her goals."