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Students choose Anders Holm to speak at commencement

April 16, 2013 By Greg Bump

Comic actor and writer Anders Holm, a 2003 University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate, will be the speaker for spring commencement ceremonies on May 18 and 19.

Photo: Anders Holm


As a relatively recent graduate, Holm, 31, thinks he can deliver a relevant message to the new grads.

“I can tell them about the first 10 years out of college, what I think I did wrong, what I think I did right,” Holm says. “I’m only 10 years older than these guys, and these are the years where you really plant your foot and you go right or you go left. If I was 55 or 60 years old, I might not be as in touch with those formative years.”

Holm describes his days in Madison as “more or less the perfect college experience … looking back now, I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

A history major, Holm credits communications classes he took his junior year with reigniting his passion for writing, film and television. The cultural activities at UW played a key role in propelling him to acting and writing, Holm says.

“The movies they played in the union on Sundays were incredible,” he recalls. “I would go every week and see something that would kind of blow my mind.”

Holm is married to Emma Nesper Holm, a 2004 UW–Madison journalism grad who works as communications director for Venture Strategies Innovations, an Irvine, Calif.-based nonprofit dedicated to improving women’s health in developing countries. Emma’s father, Larry Nesper, is a professor of anthropology and American Indian studies at the university.

“He is a wonderful son-in-law, in part because he is so genuinely appreciative and respectful of the very valuable work that Emma does in international women’s health,” says Nesper.

“On his own merits, Anders went to L.A. to make it in the world of TV and held on to his vision with a faithfulness and self-discipline that was quite admirable, especially when he was working at jobs that did not call upon a great deal of his talents. He learned from those experiences and it has clearly paid off in the long run. He combines a personal warmth and humility with a strong moral center and a great sense of humor.”

Holm describes his days in Madison as “more or less the perfect college experience … looking back now, I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

An Evanston, Ill., native who was a member of the UW swim team, Holm is one of the creators, writers and stars of the Comedy Central sitcom “Workaholics.” In the show, he and co-creators Adam DeVine and Blake Anderson star as three post-college roommates working telemarketing jobs by day and goofing off by night.

The show is popular among 18-24 year olds, scoring an average of 1.4 million viewers in its third season. The show has been renewed for seasons four and five.

Commencement speakers are selected and recommended by senior class officers.

Aimee Katz, the senior class treasurer, says Holm was one of several alumni considered. She’s looking forward to hearing how he connects his UW experience with his accomplishments.

“I think it’s inspiring for students to hear from someone who is close to their own age and has had a lot of success shortly after graduating,” Katz says. “We’re constantly reminded as undergraduates to take UW with us wherever we go. I’m looking forward to hearing from him how what he did here has helped him achieve so much.”

Holm says his first reaction to being told he has been selected as commencement speaker was, “Those crazy Badgers, what are they getting themselves into.”

“I was pretty sure I lacked the wisdom to be the commencement speaker, but after stewing over the idea for about 48 hours, I decided that if the senior class at the University of Wisconsin wants me to come speak, I’ll do whatever they ask me. I love that school,” Holm says.

There are five ceremonies during commencement weekend:

Friday, May 17, 5:30 p.m.

All doctoral and professional degrees (includes Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Musical Arts, Doctor of Juridical Science, Juris Doctor, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Doctor of Pharmacy, Doctor of Audiology, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Laws, Master of Laws-Legal Institutions, Master of Public Health, Master of Physician Assistant Studies)

Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m.

Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, School of Education, School of Human Ecology, School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Nursing, and School of Pharmacy; master’s degrees from the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Saturday, May 18, 2:30 p.m.

Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the School of Business and College of Engineering

Sunday, May 19, 10 a.m.

Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of Letters & Science majors A through H (African languages and literature through history of science, medicine and technology)

Sunday, May 19, 2013, 2:30 p.m.

Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of Letters & Science majors I through Z (international public affairs through zoology). Candidates in L&S with more than one major attend the ceremony for the major that comes first alphabetically.