Inspiring Graduate: Kat Schlauderaff, B.S. Digital Marketing Technology

‘I truly was able to spread my wings and learn about who I am.’
May 13, 2024

Inspiring Graduate: Kat Schlauderaff (’24)

Kat Schlauderaff is passionate about marketing, social media and content design and was extremely curious about web building, computer programming and analytics. 

She came to UW-Stout for the digital marketing technology program to explore these aspects. 

And although there were a few times when she considered transferring to a larger school in a warmer climate, she stayed for the community.

“What always kept me grounded at Stout is the amazing people I met. Because the school is smaller, it feels like a cozy environment that I belong in,” she said.

Inspiring grad Kat Schlauderaff
Kat Schlauderaff receives her diploma from Chancellor Katherine Frank / UW-Stout

Schlauderaff earned her B.S. in digital marketing technology from UW-Stout on May 4, along with 1,037 graduates.

As commencement speaker at the CSTEMM ceremony, she challenged her peers to “Embrace the obstacles that lie ahead with the same tenacity and courage that you’ve shown throughout your journey at Stout. Let the memories of your triumphs serve as a reminder of your inner strength and capability. Dare to dream big, pursue all your passions relentlessly and never underestimate your ability to overcome hardships. Our journey may have had its struggles, but it has prepared us to start our path toward extraordinary achievements.”

Inspiring grad Kat Schlauderaff
Kat Schlauderaff was the undergraduate student speaker at the CSTEMM commencement ceremony / UW-Stout

Schlauderaff hopes to move to a big city like Seattle, New York City or Chicago and work in search engine optimization, web development or product management for a company that she is passionate about. 

“I hope to continue on my journey of becoming the person I always wanted to be as a kid,” she said.

How has your UW-Stout experience changed you?

I’ve undergone a profound transformation since my first year. My resilience, interpersonal skills and overall character have undergone significant refinement. 

Inspiring grad Kat Schlauderaff
Kat Schlauderaff challenged her peers to “Embrace the obstacles that lie ahead." / UW-Stout

The immense opportunities, ranging from theatrical engagements to immersive field trips, have propelled me beyond my comfort zone, fostering personal growth and self-awareness. Through avenues like theater productions, live art exhibits, and even a choir tour to Puerto Rico, I've forged deeper connections with both myself and my aspirations, creating a profound sense of purpose.

These years have been precious to me, and I will not forget how they changed me.

I believe that Stout has prepared me well to work in my field. The knowledge I have gained about marketing has been invaluable to me. In talking with marketing professionals, I am able to keep up in conversations that rely heavily on abbreviations, industry standards and widely used practices.

How did your involvement on campus impact your experience?

Ever since my first semester at Stout I have been involved on campus. As a very sentimental person, the hardest part of saying goodbye to these clubs is going to be the people. 

I have been a part of the Chamber Choir for my entire college career. The choir is where I attribute finding my friend group and where I truly belong. I got to go on a concert tour with them in Puerto Rico, sing at other gigs and participate in our biannual concerts. I was also a part of the Devil Tones acappella group.

I was an ensemble member in University Theatre’s production of “Be More Chill” in spring 2023 and played the character of Rose in the production of “Dogfight” this spring. 

The theater is where I truly have blossomed and found my place. Having the opportunity to create art with others is a true blessing.

Theater cast of production 'Dogfight'
The cast of University Theatre's production of 'Dogfight,' Kat Schlauderaff, center. / Kaden Copelan

I was the marketing manager for the Innovative Digital Marketing Association, which led me to find two of my mentors and best friends in my degree, Gabby and JJ. Though they both graduated last year, I still sometimes find myself messaging them to ask for advice or to catch up. The DMT program is quite small, so having peers that I was close to in the major was a game changer for me. They offered me advice, support, and above all, they offered me another place to belong.

I served on University Housing’s Hall Leadership Committee, creating events like Mental Maintenance to give students a calm environment during finals where they could meditate and take home a self-care goodie bag. 

I then became a resident adviser for the Out at Stout residence hall living community and a hall manager. It sounds cheesy, but I have known I was going to be an RA since I was 9 years old seeing my sister as an RA at her school. I want to see others succeed, and I believe I have a knack for helping them find their inner strength to do so. My RAs were the most important people to me, not just as employees but also as students and people.

People ask me why I joined Housing, and my answer is always that I wanted to be a mentor to students and a person that people feel like they can come to. I have spent time getting to know, understand, mentor and be proud of my peers.

At this spring’s Leadership Awards, I was honored with a Student Staff Team of the Year award as a member of University Housing’s operations managers team.

Leadership Awards, spring 2024. Photo by John Roeber and Braeden Lange
Kat Schlauderaff, second on left, and University Housing's Student Staff Team of the Year, Leadership Awards 2024 / John Roeber and Braeden Lange

My advice for any students who are struggling with college is to take a leap of faith outside of your comfort zone and get involved. College gets a lot harder when you’re alone, and it’s easy to feel trapped in that state when you’re sitting in your dorm room. 

There are a lot of ways to get connected – attend your building’s events, join a club, sit next to someone you don't know in class, etc. Whatever you choose to do, don’t let yourself fade into the background. You deserve to have a fun college experience.

What challenges did you face in earning your degree and how did you overcome them?

One big challenge I faced was burnout. I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and ADHD, and they all make me very prone to overdoing it and burning myself out. 

However, I was able to get in contact with the Student Counseling Center. I also have an amazing support group, full of hard-working individuals whom I get to call friends. 

We all try our very best to succeed while also celebrating each other’s wins and being there for each other during harder times.

Inspiring grad Kat Schlauderaff
Kat Schlauderaff crosses the stage at commencement / UW-Stout

What are you most proud of as you finish your degree?

As my time here at Stout wraps up, I am overwhelmingly proud of myself. Not only am I graduating with honors, but I am also graduating with the honor of knowing I made an impact. 

I encouraged others to grow alongside me as I trudged through difficult coursework, fostered spaces where students felt comfortable to speak up for themselves and positively influenced the environment of multiple clubs.

I truly was able to spread my wings and learn about who I am. Yes, I am proud of myself for graduating, but I am more proud of myself for becoming who I am today.

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