Viterbo Grad

Alex Shaker will be the commencement speaker Saturday at Viterbo’s winter graduation ceremony.

Alex Shaker entered Viterbo with a penchant for learning and a drive to succeed. Four years later, he is leaving the university with an arsenal of knowledge, the skills of a leader and a place at the podium on Saturday’s commencement.

The Hillsboro native, a double major in business administration and management and leadership, was nominated as the winter 2017 commencement speaker by Dahl School of Business assistant professor Todd Ondell, who has been continually impressed by his student’s ambition and work ethic.

“He came to Viterbo with a mission,” said Ondell, who is also Shaker’s advisor. “He comes ready to get more out of a class than just the textbook offers. Alex understands being present and taking something away that’s going to help him in the future.”

With the encouragement of Ondell, Shaker took on internships at Gundersen Health System, The Parenting Place and Trane Co., where he has worked with the North American Pricing Team since May 2016. Putting in full-time hours in the summer and about 25 hours weekly during fall and spring semesters, Shaker helped the product team and local sales offices and his dedication didn’t go unnoticed by his supervisor, pricing director Sam Van Riper.

“Alex brings an excellent work ethic to this job every day,” Van Riper said. “He provides attention to detail, leadership skills and after being trained, he had the ability to work with minimum supervision.”

Shaker, who says he felt like “an equal part of the team” at Trane, was honored when Van Riper submitted his name for a coveted spot in Ingersoll Rand’s Accelerated Development Program for marketing, which immerses participants in rotations, assignments and training in locations throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and India.

Ingersoll Rand, which owns Trane, receives hundreds of ADP applications from graduating students worldwide, and interviews are conducted prior to acceptance. Students must be nominated and have at least a 3.0 GPA, two leadership experiences and two internships or six months related work experience.

Shaker proved a highly qualified candidate, having been a member of the National Society of Leadership, a participant in Encactus, an entrepreneurship program, and campus tour guide on top of his internships. Van Riper cites “His motivation to reach higher levels within the company, resiliency and ability to adapt quickly,” among Shaker’s strengths.

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“Alex set his goal on getting this,” Ondell noted.

Accepted into the program in July, Shaker will relocate to Davidson, N.C., in February for a year in the Marketing Community and Excellence division. He will take on a new assignment and location in the second year, and plans to absorb as much as he can.

“I really like having the opportunity to use as much (information) as I can,” Shaker said. “If I can learn something every day, I strive for that...If I can inspire other people to be the best they can be, I want to do that. I want to be more of a servant leader than a leader.”

Ondell says Shaker has already established himself as a leader on campus, and while Shaker takes his role seriously, he knows when to pass the baton and does so readily.

“He can engage very, very easily with his peers and adults,” Ondell said. “Alex doesn’t have the type of ego that says, ‘This is all about Alex Shaker.’”

Shaker is humbled to give the commencement speech, albeit a bit nervous, and plans to touch on the core values of Viterbo University, among them stewardship, integrity and service, and how they have shaped him as a person.

“Viterbo has really opened a lot of doors for me,” Shaker said. “I’m grateful for everyone at the university and at my internship.”

Shaker hopes to continue working under the Ingersoll Rand umbrella upon completion of the ADP.

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General assignment reporter

Emily Pyrek covers health, human interest stories and anything involving dogs for the La Crosse Tribune. She is always interested in story ideas and can be contacted at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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