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WGU Bachelor's Ceremony, August 2019

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WGU Bachelor's Ceremony, August 2019
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Bachelor's Commencement in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 3, 2019. Order of events: Processional; National Anthem sang by Britney Ormond; Welcome and Opening Remarks by WGU President Scott Pulsipher; Commencement Address delivered by All-Time "Jeopardy!" Champion, Ken Jennings; Graduate Speakers are Veronica Etier and Codie Sprinkle; Conferral of Degrees by WGU Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Marni Baker Stein; Closing Remarks by WGU President Scott Pulsipher; Recessional.</p> <p>Saturday, August 3, 2019 Western Governors University Master's Commencement in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ken Jennings, the All-Time "Jeopardy!" Champion delivered the Commencement Address. This is a recording of the WGU Bachelor's Ceremony.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Angie Besendorfer: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 73rd commencement for Western Governors University. [Applause] Graduates, families, and friends, thank you for joining us as we celebrate this special occasion. Our ceremony is being recorded and streamed live over the Internet. A special welcome to all of our online participants joining across the country and around the world. Please silence your cell phones, but keep them nearby as there will be an opportunity later in the program to share your achievement on social media. Please stand for the processional, and remain standing for the national anthem. </p> <p>[Processional and National Anthem] </p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: Thank you. Please take your seats. We'd like to thank Britney Ormond from Provo, Utah, who is graduating with her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing for that very moving performance of our national anthem. Let's hear it one more time for Britney. [Applause] Good afternoon, everyone. It is my honor to convene the 73rd WGU Commencement in Salt Lake City, Utah. On behalf of the entire university, and our board of trustees, we welcome our honored graduates and congratulate you on completing one of life's great achievements. </p> <p>We also extend our warmest welcome to the many family members and friends who are here to support their graduates. In addition, we want to recognize and welcome the many graduates, who, together with their family and friends, are watching this event via our live webcast. Let's hear it one more time for our graduates. [Applause] </p> <p>Graduates, it is likely that today would not have been possible without friends and family at your side. Would all of you, the friends and family of our graduates please stand? Graduates, let them know how grateful you are to them. [Applause] Thank you so much. </p> <p>At WGU, we also often have family members graduating together. If you're graduating with a family member today, would you please stand and be recognized? [Applause] What a special moment today will be for all of you. </p> <p>WGU is also honored to be recognized year after year as a military friendly university. We would like to recognize the military members who are graduating. So, would the graduates who are active duty, reservists, veterans or military spouses, please stand to be recognized. [Cheers and applause] Thank you, sincerely, for your service. </p> <p>And last, but not least, if you, our students and alumni, are the lifeblood of this institution, then the faculty and staff are its heart. With us today are many of our WGU mentors, instructors and other employees. If you've been a beneficiary of the time and dedication that they've put into their work, please put your hands together one last time, and give them a round of applause. [Applause] </p> <p>Twenty two years ago, WGU was officially founded. Twenty years ago, WGU enrolled its first student. The university now has more than 150,000 graduates. Since our last commencement in June, just two months ago, 5,319 students have graduated from WGU. Today, more than 1,290 graduates are joining us at our two ceremonies here in Salt Lake City and we hope to recognize each one of you individually. </p> <p>Among these, 591 have earned bachelor's degrees, and 699 earned their master's degrees. Congratulations to all of you. [Applause] You represent 43 states, Canada, the Northern Mariana Islands, and military installations overseas. Of the 1,290 attending today, 778 are from the state of Utah. [Cheers and applause] Thank you all for being here, it is our privilege to help you recognize this special day. </p> <p>Let me share some additional facts about today's graduating class, including both the master's and bachelor's graduates. 38 percent of you are first in your families to earn a college degree, and we extend a special congratulations to you. [Applause] Your average age is 38 years old, and 70 percent of you are women. [Cheers and applause] On average, you completed your undergraduate program in two years and four months. What took you so long? [Chuckles] </p> <p>It's inspiring to look at all of you and to consider your achievements, knowing that you've juggled priorities, make sacrifices and faced many challenges along the way. You are the reason that we have gathered here. And for all of us at WGU, the reason why we believe in the importance of our work. Today's commencement celebrates you, our graduates, for setting and accomplishing a significant goal and moving to a new stage in your life. You join only 33 percent of adults in the U.S. who hold a bachelor's degree. Much will be expected of you as you continue your life journey, taking leadership roles at work, and in your communities. </p> <p>Education is the greatest predictor of career success. You worked hard to attain an educational milestone that will change the course of your own history. It will also influence future generations. We know that children of graduates are ten times more likely to also graduate. You have aspired to greater things. Thank you for letting all of us at WGU play a part in the fulfillment of your dream. Let's hear it one more time for our graduates. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>I'm now pleased to introduce our commencement speaker for today, Ken Jennings. [Applause] You might know him. He's an author, a computer scientist, and a record breaking gameshow champion, gaining hero status in 2004 when he won 74 games and $2.52 million on "Jeopardy!" [Applause] </p> <p>Today, Ken writes a weekly quiz based on the previous week's news on Slate, and publishes his Connections trivia puzzle online and in Parade. He has co invented the trivia games: "Can You Beat Ken?" We tried at lunch, by the way, and so far we haven't beat Ken. And "Quizology". He has also published three books: "Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious Competitive Compulsive Word of Trivia Buffs," "Map Head: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks", and "Because I Said So: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids." </p> <p>He lives in Seattle with his wife, Mindy, his son Dylan, and daughter, Katelyn, and a small, excitable dog named Chance. Please welcome, the Michael Jordan of trivia, Mr. Ken Jennings. [Applause] </p> <p>Ken Jennings: Actually I'm really uncomfortable mentioning Michael Jordan in a Utah Jazz arena. There are still a lot of bad memories around a particular shot. [Laughter] Maybe, can I be the Karl Malone of trivia, is that okay? [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Good afternoon, everybody, how are you guys feeling, are you excited? [Cheers] Yes! Thank you for letting me be here today to celebrate you and to celebrate with you. This is a big honor for me. You should be excited. You have done something remarkable. In earning this degree, you have transformed yourself, you have reinvented yourself, and in many cases you've done it against long odds, in many cases at great personal cost, and with great personal sacrifice. Sure, you had the resources of this unique and unconventional university. You had the support of your devoted instructors and faculty mentors. I hope you had your own support system as well pulling you through family, friends, loved ones. You know, let's pause one more time to congratulate them as well. I know a lot of them are here today. Please remember to thank you them. [Applause] They are so proud of you, I promise. </p> <p>But reinvention is hard. It's not just that it takes a lot of hard work to turn yourself into a new person with new abilities although it does but it also takes courage. Sacrificing and stretching yourself to trade in one life for another can be scary. I want to talk to you a little bit today about reinvention, just to put your accomplishment in perspective. </p> <p>Here is my own reinvention story. In 2004 I was a fairly unhappy computer programmer living right here in beautiful Salt Lake City. Actually, 15 minutes south of here in Murray. Did somebody just "whoop" for Murray? Yay, Murray in the house. Wow. [Chuckles] If you don't know, Murray is pretty much the same as Salt Lake City, except the people are a little older and the Costco is a little bit bigger. [Chuckles] I actually said that this morning and somebody tweeted that at me, and they were like, "No, the new Costco on 300 West is bigger than the Murray one, Ken." [Laughter] So, I guess that person is now the reining "Jeopardy!" champion. I have been defeated. Your category is "Costco square footage." [Laughter] </p> <p>But why was I unhappy here back in 2004? In brief, it was my own damn fault. As far back as I can remember, the main thing that I was good at was knowing stuff. Koala fingerprints are pretty much identical to human ones. The real name of "The Skipper" on "Gilligan's Island" is Jonas Grumby. "Bootylicious" is the longest word ever to title a billboard number one hit. It's 12 letters. Utah is the only U.S. state with an official state cooking pot. Does anybody know what that is by the way? Dutch oven, very good! Nice job, Utah. And if you are from Utah, and you did not know the identity of your state cooking pot, shame on you! [Laughter] What kind of a citizen are you? </p> <p>Anyway, that's the kind of stuff I would know. As a kid I would run home from school from the school bus every day after school to watch "Jeopardy!", my favorite show which was on at 4 p.m. where we lived. I never missed "Jeopardy!" But you know what, I never took that obsession with knowing stuff seriously. I certainly never had a guidance counselor tell me that it might be a career. </p> <p>So in college I studied English. I liked to write, and I liked to teach. I hoped maybe I'd be a writer or an English teacher someday. But then the spring that I graduated from college, I got engaged as well. And then I got worried. Those are often two things that go together, by the way. I was worried that I was not going to be able to support a family doing what I loved. A friend told me a joke, "What's the difference between an English major and a large, pepperoni pizza? At least the pizza can feed a family of four." [Laughter] I know, right?! Wow, that's harsh. </p> <p>So the whole enterprise started to seem a little bit risky to me. So instead, I took the first job I could find. I went to work for a friend's Internet start up as a computer programmer. And as it turned out, there were only two problems with my plan. The first, that I didn't enjoy computer programming, and second, I was not any good at computer programming. Except for that, I was fine. I'll bet there are people graduating here today with IT degrees, anybody in tech, make some noise. [Cheers] See, any one of you should've had my job. But I was terrible at it. </p> <p>You can probably see, looking back with me, what I had done wrong. I had made a bad decision out of fear. I was afraid that the things that I was good at, the things that I loved weren't good enough because they didn't seem safe. They didn't seem easy. I hadn't believed in myself. </p> <p>Last night I emailed my wife and I asked her if she would remind me of some of the ideas that I was constantly spouting back then of, you know, what I could do to figure out my life and start over. It's kind of an early mid life crisis I was having. And she sent me this list. </p> <p>Among my ideas: Quit my job, become a free lance web designer. Take the foreign service exam, join the State Department, move to Romania or someplace, stamp visas in a U.S. embassy. Start a business painting murals for elementary school classrooms and children's bedrooms. I'd forgotten that one. And number four, apply to law school. You can see I was pretty desperate. As you can tell, I was all over the place. At the end of the list, by the way, she wrote me, "The funny thing is, you never did anything about any of them, you just complained." [Laughter] Thank you, honey, I appreciate that. That's not untrue. </p> <p>But in the end, what happened was I lucked out. On a whim, one weekend a friend of mine and I drove down to LA, and we tried out for the quiz show, "Jeopardy!" And we both passed the test. We were so happy. A year later I was sitting at work, and the phone rang. "Ken, this is Bob at 'Jeopardy!' We want you to come be a contestant on the show in three weeks." Three weeks? He added, "Oh, and you know about our recent rule change, right?" </p> <p>Now I'm a huge "Jeopardy!" fan. When you're a kid, when you're in college, you watch a ton of "Jeopardy!" Then later in life, you hit a certain age where it's mandatory that you watch "Jeopardy!" You plan your life around "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel." Does anybody have a parent or a grandparent you cannot call during "Jeopardy!" or "Wheel of Fortune"? But there's a gap in the middle where we have jobs and families, and you can't plan your life around a quiz show anymore, so no, I had not watched "Jeopardy!" in many years. But I didn't want to say that to Bob. So I said, "Bob, why don't you tell me which rule change you're talking about, and then I'll tell you if I've heard about it or not." [Laughter] </p> <p>He said, "Well, we used to retire champions after they won five games. But now you can just keep playing until you lose." Here is what I said, "Okay, thanks, Bob, good to know." Here is what I thought, "Who cares? Why are you telling me this? Like what are the odds that your little rule change is going to affect my life?" But of course it did. That tiny rule change, which had just been made by coincidence, of just a few months before, turned out to be the thing that changed my life. Now, thanks to "Jeopardy!" I get to write and speak and know about stuff full time. It's my job. And I couldn't be happier. But it was a game show of all things. I got lucky. </p> <p>Not you, my friends, you didn't need luck. You were smarter than me. You had a plan. You got to a point in your life where you wanted something better. You thought, "You know, there is something I can be excellent at, and I'm not there yet." And you figured out how to get there. Here you are! That's how I know you're going to do great things. </p> <p>Scott Fitzgerald said, "There are no second acts in American lives." But I know for a fact that he's wrong because I'm in my second act. And after today, so are all of you, it starts right here. There are between 50 and 75 trillion cells in the human body. And over time, each one gradually gets replaced. The lining of your stomach and intestine regenerates every four days. Skin cells live for two or three weeks. Blood cells live between four months and about a year. Even skeletal muscle cells get replaced after 15 years. </p> <p>What this means is that you are, on a cellular level, an almost entirely different person than you were 10 or 20 years ago. Like none of the old you is left. The you sitting in your seat today is, on average, about seven years old. Your body will be keep re creating itself as long as you live. So please remember, reinvention is not a one time event. We are all of us, works in progress. There are moments ahead of all of us where our situations will change, our field will change, our world will change, and we're going to have to adapt. </p> <p>Reinventing yourself time and time again, over the course of a lifetime is not easy unless you're Bob Dylan or Madonna. For the rest of us, it's really easy to get set in our ways, do things the old way, do what everybody else is doing, do what worked last time, do what's easy, or what's comfortable. But you have to fight that impulse because we don't live in a world anymore where there's one default path to American middle class security, like there used to be. I'll get into college, I'll do what I'm told, things will kind of work out somehow, I'll find myself set for life. </p> <p>I'm sad to say that work is not like that anymore. Today there is no one size fits all solution. You have to figure out what you can do well and create a niche where you are indispensable. Your story will be different from everybody else's, but you're going to keep doing that. Start a new path where there are no footsteps and keep blazing that trail. </p> <p>Here is what I learned about reinventing from my own experience. If you remember anything I say and I know it's an exciting day, so that's kind of iffy but if you remember anything I say today, remember this part. First, obsession is destiny. The thing that keeps you up late every night and gets you out of bed every morning, make that the center of your life, and the focus of your goals. Your rule of thumb should be: How much time did I spend today doing that thing that I'm best at? The things that you love, and the talents that you have are sacred things. Take them seriously. </p> <p>Secondly, education is power. The things that you know, the skills that you've mastered are what makes you you. Because we are all of us, the sum of the things that we've learned. And that education doesn't stop just because the bell rings at the end of a class or you know, a diploma gets handed out here at the end of a commencement. We should be learning something new every hour of every day for our entire lives. And you know what, it happens just by paying attention. The one thing I've noticed about every "Jeopardy!" champion I've ever met, they're not weirdoes who sit at home memorizing the encyclopedia. They are just curious, but they're curious about everything. And as a result, they pay attention. </p> <p>Third, and finally, time is short. When you make a course correction a few decades into your life like I did, like maybe some of you did, you become so aware of how precious every day is. There is no time to waste, there is so much good work to be done. What's the meaning of life? Why are we here? We are here to go. So go! Go forth! The world needs you. Change the world. Thank you so much, everybody, congrats again. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: Thank you so much, Ken, for those inspiring words. And now we have the privilege of hearing from two graduates. They are Veronica Etier, Bachelor of Science, Business Management from Mercer Island, Washington. As well as she will be followed by Codie Sprinkle, Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies from Mary, North Carolina. Please join me in welcoming first to the lectern, Veronica. [Applause] </p> <p>Veronica Etier: Thank you. Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets said, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned in life. It goes on." Life does go on regardless of the cards that we're dealt. It's how we play them that matters. The events in my life that have had the most profound emotional effect on me have made me the person that I am today. </p> <p>I'm happy with who I am, but I'm also always trying to strive to be better. With the support of the Mary Graham Children's Foundation, and WGU's Women in Leadership scholarship, I have earned my Bachelors of Science in Business Management through Western Governors University. </p> <p>Mary Graham holds a very special place in my heart and has been a big part of my life. I've been part of the organization since before I was three, and until I aged out of the system at 18. Throughout my childhood, I was bounced back and forth from foster homes and Mary Graham home. All of my belongings put into a trash bag. Sleeping in someone else's sheets, eating someone else's food, staying in their house, rarely feeling comfortable enough to call anywhere home. </p> <p>My mom and dad weren't there to show me how to ride a bike, to make sure that I did my homework, to teach me how to drive, or get ready for prom. I was often very angry and got into a lot of fights. I was even expelled by eighth grade. My social workers thought I was going to be a lawyer because I wanted to sue everyone in the foster care system. [Chuckles] </p> <p>When you grow up in foster care, you don't receive the guidance and support from parents and family. When 18 hits, you're on your own. There is no back up plan, there is no safety net. At 18, I was not ready to be on my own, but I didn't have a choice. And a week later, I gave birth to my son, and felt love for the first time in my life. At 21, I had my second son, and two weeks later I took in my brother and sister who were six and eight because I didn't want them to grow up in foster care the way that I did. </p> <p>I made mistakes, but I did what I thought was best at the time with the resources that I had available to me, and we all survived. My little brother even has a baby of his own now. It's crazy to look back on my childhood and then to look at my children now. They mean the world to me and there's nothing that I wouldn't do for them. My youngest, Jaden, will be a sophomore in high school this year and my oldest son, Roosevelt, is a pilot and he's going to college in 19 days to pursue his dream of becoming a commercial pilot. [Applause] </p> <p>Over the years, I tried several times to go back to school for a degree. But being a single parent of four kids with no support system, a degree seemed just out of reach. In 2016, I was talking to my boss, and she so kindly pointed out that, in order to pursue my career that I needed to go back to school and work on my degree. </p> <p>We looked up WGU, and within a month I was enrolled and taking classes. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but I didn't. My Information Systems Management class almost broke me. There was so much information, I didn't know if I could keep up. I almost gave up several times, but I didn't. I'd wipe the tears from my face, I'd sit back down at my desk, and I'd try again. Things finally started to click, and I understood the concept of how hardware, software, networking and big data all worked together. And now I can look back on those experiences and say that I am truly grateful for those learning moments. It may have hurt at times, but I grew tremendously as a person. I gained more from that course than what the text provided me. I gained a higher level of respect for myself and admiration of my own achievements. </p> <p>The lessons that we've been taught are not just processes, procedures, and formulas. They are high level, with an ethical filter of honesty, humility, and integrity. We have been taught to listen to others with respect, to initiate cross functional collaboration, to step outside of the box, and that everyone's voice can add value. The edge that we received gives us the tools to add value to the world. </p> <p>As WGU alumni, our class walks away today with the power to make a positive difference. We have fought to be here, we have earned our "night owl" status, we have sacrificed sleep, and time, and God knows what else, to earn our degrees. Today we leave here knowing cyber security, information management, we are teachers who will love and nurture our children and fight for their rights to education. We also have the skills to create new businesses and our own non profit organizations. We also are nurses and health care professionals who understand not just our physical bodies, but the need for attention for mental health. </p> <p>Throughout my journey, there have been people to help me make my life better, people who changed my world. And I would like to thank them. To my pre K teacher for having shoes for me in class, and teaching me about butterflies. To my kindergarten teacher for catching that I was dyslexic and getting me into tutoring. Miss Price, my ninth grade teacher, for putting up with my disrespect, seeing through all the negativity, and showing me that you cared. And most of all, thank you for buying me a jacket and loving me. </p> <p>Thank you to Grandma Johnson and Papa Robert. Even though we weren't blood, and our time was short, you are my mom and dad, rest in heaven. Thank you to my children for cooking dinner and not letting me starve during my journey to my degree. And finally, thank you WGU, class of 2019. I can't wait to see the future progress that our alumni makes. Please make a difference. Always remember that a person is never too old or too young for you to make an impact on their lives. We all have the ability to affect change, even if it's only change our own minds. Thank you. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Codie Sprinkle: My educational journey started a long time ago, when I saw those two pink lines telling me I was expecting my first child. I was 20, looking at the world with fresh eyes. And although she was planned, my future was not. I was living in an overpriced two bedroom apartment with my then husband, and our roommate, and I knew I had to do better for my daughter. I wanted her to have a strong female role model, and someone that she could be proud of. </p> <p>So I enrolled in a medical program that was only concerned with money, following in the CNA footsteps of pretty much everyone in my family. There was no weekly phone calls, no check ins, no support, nothing remotely close to the WGU experience. After my daughter was born, I was consumed with her safety. I dropped the medical program and the college, and I told myself that I would follow her throughout her educational journey and keep my hands in the entire process. </p> <p>So I went on the hunt for a decent school to achieve my goal and that's when I stumbled upon WGU and witnessed first hand their dedication to their students and education wise, WGU was the best decision I ever made. Every week my mentor support constantly reconfirmed that decision. I looked at my degree plan thinking, "I will never get through this. I will never finish this. No one in my family has ever earned a degree. How could I possibly do this?" I've never been a quitter and I've always been headstrong and goal oriented, and some would even say stubborn. </p> <p>I made a promise to myself that I would finish my bachelor's degree, that I would show my daughter that with hard work and dedication, you can achieve anything. And little did I know that would be the hardest promise I would ever have to keep. Fast forward a few years later, we were expecting our second child. And even though we had planned him, my then husband and I were not on the same page anymore. I was two months pregnant and homeless with my four year old daughter. We bounced around from couch to couch, but nothing was permanent to call our home. </p> <p>I had completed my assignments on my cell phone, testing at family's houses, using their Wi Fi, and the entire time my mentor was there pushing me to succeed. Around seven months pregnant I reconnected with an old friend that I had met in grade school. He was my knight in shining armor, and he was a godsend, my biggest cheerleader, supporting me every step of the way. Together, we worked hard to buy our land, and put down a down payment on our own home. All of this while maintaining on time progress. </p> <p>Three years and three kids later we were expecting our fourth child. She was due in August, and my demonstration teaching was starting in September, the last thing on my to do list. I had finally made it to the end of the degree plan. However, on August 5th, one day before our wedding anniversary, six days before our daughter was born, and a month before my demonstrative teaching was to start, my husband and I stood there in desperation as we watched everything we worked so hard for go up in flames in a matter of 27 minutes. </p> <p>But even with all of this, I kept my head in the curriculum, pushing forward with my husband and my mentor's support. The following month I prepared for my demonstrative teaching to start, only to hit yet another roadblock. This one causing me to enter term break and reschedule my demonstrative teaching until January. My husband and I got the devastating news that our two year old son had to have brain surgery for Arnold Chiari Malformation. </p> <p>During term break we nursed our son back to health, and bought our new home and settled back in on Christmas Eve. January, 2018, I started my demonstrative teaching and I knew that I had made the right choice. I was in the homestretch when March rolled around, and everything seemed to be falling into place. That was, until I got the phone call that no one wants to get. </p> <p>My step mother, one of the most amazing women who raised me, was about to be removed from life support. Her battle with cancer was over. I held her hand and sang to her, and the next day she passed away. The day after she passed away, I returned to school and found my desk covered in handmade cards. They were all wishing me peace through all of this. My students didn't know anything about me other than what they had seen for the last three months, but our bond was very clear. That was the moment that I realized that I wasn't just proving to my kids that you can achieve anything through hard work and dedication, I was proving it to my students as well. </p> <p>Throughout this journey, it's been very clear that God was there giving me the support and resources I needed to push through my hardships. Because of Him, I'm able to stand there today with my head held high stand here today, not there graduating from the best school ever. And none of it would've been remotely possible about God, my husband, my family that loaned out their Wi Fi, and the support of WGU. </p> <p>Because of the WGU curriculum, I'm able to walk into any school prepared to do my job to the fullest extent. And I'm also able to take on my master's program this month, confident to see it through and achieve yet another goal. And I just wanted to say that every one of ya'll should be very proud because this is a very hard accomplishment, and we are really frickin' awesome. So, good job 2019! [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Marni Baker Stein: Wow. So inspiring. Truly frickin' awesome. Thank you for sharing your stories. Let's hear another round of applause for our speakers. Amazing. [Applause] Incredible journeys. </p> <p>Okay, here we go. We will now recognize each of our bachelor degree graduates. Would the candidates for bachelor's degrees, and post baccalaureate teacher preparation endorsements please rise, including everybody get up. Some on up. Everybody at home, you stand up too. </p> <p>Okay, ready? Upon the favorable recommendation of our faculty, and the authority vested in me, by the board of trustees, and member governors of Western Governors University, I hereby confer upon you the bachelors degree or endorsement you have earned to include the Bachelor of Arts, the Bachelor of Science, or the Post baccalaureate Teacher Preparation Endorsement with all of the rights and privileges thereto appertaining. You may now move the tassel from the right to the left side of your mortarboard. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Congratulations on this important milestone in your lives, truly incredible. All right. So please be seated for a moment, folks at home, you can sit down too. The following leaders from each of our colleges will now present the diplomas to our graduates. Dr. Rashmi Prasad, Academic Vice President College of Business; Daren Upham Academic Operations, Vice President, College of Health Professions; John Baldaree, Academic Operations Vice President, College of Information Technology; Dr. Deb Eldridge, Dean and Academic Vice President, Teachers College. </p> <p>[Reading of Graduates]</p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: Let's hear it one more time for our graduates everyone. [Cheers and applause] And thank you to all the friends and family who vocalized your support and love for your graduate, we are truly motivated and inspired by your support for them. So thank you also to all of you who support them. Let's give them one more round of applause, graduates. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Graduates, please accept our sincere congratulations, and you now join the ranks of more than 150,000 WGU alumni, and we're so grateful that you answered Ken's question: What will your second act be? We are grateful that you answered that question. We are also inspired by the words of Codie and also Veronica, reminded us most importantly, of the inherent worth of every individual, and that there is that innate capacity for learning and changing and bettering one's life. </p> <p>We are truly inspired by the simple message that life, that it goes on, that you can only move forward. And that simple notion, that in fact, love, when shared, is multiplied, and when sorrow shared, it is divided. Codie, thank you also for reminding everyone of the value of technology, especially smart phones, so you can all do your tasks and assignments, and follow your course plan, and everything else. But truly it seemed as if no roadblock was a roadblock for you. </p> <p>It is so wonderful to also recognize the tender mercies that each of you have received in your life as you pursued your aspiration to completing your degree. We commend each and every one of you. And lastly, I would just like to say, that even if Ken says that our bodies may now be only seven years old, I am grateful that we don't act like seven year olds, right? [Chuckles] </p> <p>You'll be happy to learn that we have an active alumni community, and we invite you to stay involved. Please visit to connect with fellow Night Owls, and take advantage of the many benefits and resources that are made just for you. </p> <p>For many of you, earning your diploma is the fulfillment of a lifelong goal. The academic degree you have earned at WGU will open doors for you, and allow you to explore new opportunities. But it's important to remember that commencement is not the end, it represents a new beginning. I encourage you to explore your dreams, dare to discover, and follow your passions. And whatever you choose to do, do it well, and great things will follow. </p> <p>Learning, it's a lifelong journey, and one that is now a habit of both your heart and your mind. I urge you, as you continue this journey, to reach out to others in the pursuit of their dreams, identify meaningful ways to contribute to your families, to your communities, and neighborhoods, and help us find our way as a united country, to a brighter pathway for our children, and our children's children. Let's give these graduates one more round of applause. Congratulations. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Now, to make sure that we always have the opportunity to remember this moment, and let it live maybe somewhat forever, let's use that smart phone and take a selfie. So I'm going to have Marni come up here with me, and we're going to take a selfie with all of you in the background. </p> <p>Okay, I hope you guys are got yours. As you celebrate today and share things on social media, so your other friends and family who couldn't join you, please remember to use the hashtag, "WGU Grad." This now concludes our ceremony. Please remain seated until our graduates have filed out. Thank you, and God bless. [Cheers and applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)