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The Wisconsin School of Business Celebrates 2023 Winter Graduates

By Wisconsin School of Business

December 14, 2023

Graphic of graduation icons and W crest

What’s one of the gifts in store for some Business Badgers this holiday season?

(Hint: It’s something that can’t be given; it must be hard-earned).

This weekend, the Wisconsin School of Business will award diplomas to 116 undergraduate students and 27 graduate students during the University of Wisconsin–Madison winter commencement ceremony. After completing hours of coursework, engaging in student organizations and career exploration, and landing internships and first jobs, WSB’s newest graduates are ready to make a difference as trusted leaders.

Student spotlight: Meet graduate Nick Kempf

One of December’s outstanding graduates is undergraduate business student Nick Kempf (BBA ’23). Raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, the accounting and finance, investment, and banking major found his niche in leadership early on.

Kempf became a leadership program intern with WSB’s Accenture Leadership Center (ALC) during his sophomore year and completed the first-ever Leadership at Lambeau retreat in 2022 before returning as one of the program’s student leaders the following year. He also earned UW–Madison’s Leadership Certificate

In high school, “I was pretty quiet, didn’t talk to many people, didn’t really see myself as a leader,” Kempf says. But his confidence started to grow as he took on different roles. By college, “it seemed like more of a natural place to be.”

Student leader Nick Kempf shares during a collaborative Leadership at Lambeau summit
Nick Kempf (BBA ’23) facilitates a breakout session as a student leader during the 2023 Leadership at Lambeau summit. Photo by Paul L. Newby II

“I felt like leadership was always something that intrigued me because it’s something that you can continually improve,” Kempf says. “I liked the fact that it’s not something that you have to be born with. For my work at the Accenture Leadership Center, it’s really about helping other students reach that realization for themselves.”

While still an intern with ALC, Kempf designed the Leading for Change badge, the newest badge in WSB’s Business Badger Badges program.

“When Nick says he’ll get something done, you can count on him to do so, plus five other things that he takes the initiative to do,” says Julie Duffstein, director of leadership and engagement for WSB’s undergraduate program.

“Nick put together learning outcomes based on the UW–Madison Leadership Framework, created workshops that brought a business lens to the badge competencies, and led the creation of the curriculum for our ChangeForum—the experiential component of the badge,” Duffstein says.

“Nick’s legacy at WSB will live on well beyond his time here.”

From 2022 to 2023, Kempf served as president of the Undergraduate Business Council, WSB’s government body for the school’s undergraduates. Seeing a missed opportunity for connection, Kempf instituted an ongoing “Coffee with the Dean,” giving WSB students a forum to share ideas and get to know Vallabh “Samba” Sambamurthy, WSB’s Albert O. Nicholas Dean.

Kempf’s campus commitments and activities have not come at the expense of academic achievement. He’s consistently maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his college career—his December graduation is a semester early—and he’s been a recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, including WSB’s Business Badger Leadership Award and UW–Madison’s Robert A. Jerred Excellence Award, William F. Vilas Scholarship, and the Velna Wells Scholarship Award.

The future is bright

Throughout it all, Kempf also completed two summer internships with global assurance, tax, and consulting firm RSM. Post-graduation, he will join the firm in their Madison office as a tax associate.

Kempf says the culture of RSM is what made them stand out. “What really differentiates a job is the people you’re working with,” he says. “I felt like from day one, they had a very supportive culture. Over my two summers, I developed really deep relationships with people, working with my team, and what I’m most excited for is getting to see them again and continuing to advance my career.”

What advice would he give future Business Badgers?

Make the most of it.

“Freshman year [during the COVID-19 pandemic] was not my ideal college experience by any means,” he says. “But I still attended the Accenture Leadership Center workshops even though they were online, which led to my getting the leadership program intern job. I still was involved with the Undergraduate Business Council and the Institute of Management Accountants, even though they were meeting online. It set me up for sophomore year: When things opened up again, I was able to take advantage of those opportunities because I already had my foot in the door.”

“Take advantage of the opportunities but also balance that with having fun and really enjoying your college experience. It goes by so fast.”