Nearly 500 undergraduate and graduate students in engineering majors, the Rader School of Business and School of Nursing will receive their bachelor’s or master’s degrees at Milwaukee School of Engineering’s (MSOE) Spring Commencement, Saturday, May 26, at the Kern Center.  

Jacqueline Herd-Barber ’84, MSOE Corporation Member, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree and deliver the keynote address.  

Matt Hughes, of Trenton, Missouri, is the class respondent. He is graduating with honors and will receive a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He also is the recipient of the Fred F. Loock Outstanding Student Award, which is presented annually to the MSOE senior student, who, in the opinion of the faculty, most notably combines an excellent academic record and has at the same time demonstrated leadership and professional bearing in extracurricular or community service activities. It is the most prestigious student testimonial that MSOE bestows. After high school, Hughes went on to serve two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on board the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt as a Reactor Operator/U.S. Navy 2nd Class Petty Officer.    

While at MSOE, Hughes has served as president of the MSOE Student Veterans Organization; pilot/team captain of MSOE’s new Drone Engineers club sport; helped as an on-campus tutor and note-taker; participated in the Student Union Board, Circle K, Underwater Robotics Team, Young Americans for Liberty, Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and more; and volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club of America, Veteran Affairs Summit, Milwaukee Kiwanis Nights, Dryhootch, and many others.    

Holly Denfeld, of Edgar, Wisconsin, will receive the Alumni Association Award. Recipients of this prestigious award are first nominated by faculty members in their respective academic departments and then the entire graduating class selects from among its peers the student who is most deserving. Denfeld is graduating with high honors and will receive Bachelor of Science degrees in Architectural Engineering and Construction Management.  

About Jacqueline Herd-Barber

Jacqueline Herd-Barber made her mark on MSOE early, as a co-founder of the university’s National Society of Black Engineers. After graduating in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, she embarked on a nearly 25-year career with Motorola. She held both direct and indirect sales management positions. By the time she retired in 2009, her accounts had included manufacturers across an array of diverse markets—from automotive to health care.  

Over the years Herd-Barber has been active in the MSOE community as president of the Alumni Association and a mentor in the Upward Bound program, encouraging students to pursue STEM careers. She also is a member of the MSOE Corporation, and continues to mentor students. She and her husband Dr. Michael Barber ’82, also provide financial support through a diversity scholarship to increase the number of students in STEM fields.  

Herd-Barber serves on several community and civic boards, including SaintA, St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation, Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation, Black Arts MKE, Medical College of Wisconsin, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and co-chair of Milwaukee Succeeds. Previously, she was campaign co-chair of the 2016 United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County; immediate past chair of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts; and past chair of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Urban League and Rotary Club of Milwaukee.  

Herd-Barber has been recognized for her community contributions, which include induction into the MSOE Wall of Fame (2006), MSOE Distinguished Alumna of the Year (2017), Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation Service Award (2017), Marquette University College of Education Dean’s Education Advocacy Award (2017), Education Deans of Greater Milwaukee Champion of Education Award (2017), Milwaukee Urban League Unity Award (honoree, 2013), Milwaukee Business Journal Woman of Influence (2014), Milwaukee Business Journal Power Broker (2017), Fellowship Open Community Volunteer (honoree, 2015), and Excellence in Education Award recipient (2016). She is also a member of the Milwaukee Chapter of the Links Inc. and Girlfriends Inc.  

The Barbers have two children, Dr. Lauren Barber, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School and orthopedic surgery resident in New York, and Justin, who completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, earned his MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business and is a Lean Leader in GE Healthcare’s Operations Management Leadership Program.