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WGU Commencement Address from the Honorable Brian Sandoval
WGU Commencement Address from the Honorable Brian Sandoval
Western Governors University
<p>Governor of the State of Nevada, the Honorable Brian Sandoval addressed the WGU's graduates at the June 2, 2018 Master's Ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada.</p> <p>Transcript of video: </p> <p>The Honorable Brian Sandoval: Good morning everybody. I'm really excited and honored to be here. It truly is a privilege. Chancellor, thank you for the kind introduction.</p> <p>I want to welcome all of you our distinguished guests our faculty members of the graduating class of 2018. Everybody that's joining here I know you've many of you have travelled from all over the country. Those that are joining us online we're all here together to celebrate this milestone achievement in the lives of our graduates.</p> <p>You know as the governor of Nevada it's really a special honor to welcome our 1500 graduates from 47 states. I mean that was really impressive, Chancellor. Washington, D.C. this really is a truly a special day for all of us. </p> <p>You know and being here in Las Vegas we know a little bit about hospitality and we're thrilled to host all of you in the entertainment capital of the world. And for those of you that are hockey fans, GO KNIGHTS GO! </p> <p>Right, but no matter what state or part of the country that you're from today you're all members of what I like to call the Nevada family. And we're honored to share in this momentous occasion so let me begin with a word of congratulations to each member of the WGU graduating class.</p> <p>You know Chancellor said it but I'm gonna say it again. I know that this achievement has been hard fought and that the journey that has brought you to this moment has not always been an easy one. In fact most of the graduates have faced a lot of unique challenges and have overcome those challenges through sheer determination and belief in their ability to succeed and accomplish great things.</p> <p>WGU strives to serve as many students as possible. And as the Chancellor said including underrepresented and first-generation college students, those with modest incomes, and others who lose lives or geographic locations don't allow them to attend traditional campus based colleges.</p> <p>You know 71% of the student population are in one or more of these underserved populations. Many of you are moms and dads. And nearly all of you are working professionals. And boy I bet your families are so proud of you got this exact, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.</p> <p>It has not always been easy, but today I joined your family members your friends the WGU faculty, in saying to each of you, “Congratulations. You did it. Job well done.”</p> <p>Gave me goosebumps when I saw our members of the military extend up just a few minutes ago. So, I want to give a special recognition to our graduates representing our military and Armed Forces. And I'm told that we have a number of graduates who are watching from military installations overseas. Yeah that great. So, we started this week with Memorial Day paying tribute to the heroism and valor of the warriors who have fought for our freedoms, and made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation. </p> <p>I want to recognize the brave men and women who in addition to working hard to earn their college degree through WGU are also serving in uniform to keep our nation safe. We owe you a debt of gratitude we can never fully repay and on behalf of everyone here and the people the state of Nevada thank you. </p> <p>Now over the past year I've had the great opportunity to serve as chairman of the National Governors Association and working with my fellow governors I've been able to learn more about our sister states many of which obviously are represented here today. And as NGA chairman, I've led an initiative which I called Ahead of the Curve. The initiative has been dedicated to studying the innovations and changes in technology that many are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution. </p> <p>We've spent the last year exploring the vast opportunities associated with unmanned aerial systems, driverless cars, and automated technologies with the Internet of Things, and expanding the role of digital technology in our daily lives. </p> <p>These changes in technology have already had profound impacts on the way we live and work the way we learn, like WGU, write, travel and interact with one another. And make no mistake these changes will have long lasting effects on our economy. And will define the job opportunities of today and tomorrow. </p> <p>Now, I have to admit I didn't know enough about WGU a few years ago. You know I've got to talk a little bit about a Nevada because I am Governor of Nevada. But since June 2015 WGU Nevada's enrollment has grown from 900 students to over 3,000 students. That's really impressive. And today one in every five students in Nevada study and exclusively online in a bachelor's or master's degree program is enrolled at WGU Nevada. Since 2015 over 1,400 students have graduated and are enjoying their professional careers right here in our great state. WGU is a game changer for us, for you, and the state's where you live. Now here in Nevada we've seen a resurgence of our economy. One that is becoming more modernized and diversified. We are once again the fastest growing state in the nation. And what I like to call the new Nevada economy is being built on emerging industries, like advanced manufacturing, logistics data storage automated systems, renewable energy, information technology, and other dynamic areas. But at the same time, because of our rapid growth, we are in desperate need of more professionals in education, business, and healthcare. So all of you from other states, stay in Nevada, all right? We need you here. [Chuckling] So, and I know what is occurring here is happening all over the nation, in your respective states and your communities. WGU has anticipated these developments, and has worked to make sure that you have the skills you need to take advantage of the opportunities available to you in the 21st Century. WGU is the right university at the right time and the right place, which brings me to my message that I wanted to share with all of you today. </p> <p>Now I've already said this word several times, and I want to share a few more thoughts about that word: Opportunity. Opportunity. Because it’s a word that we use all the time, and sometimes, I admit, it can ma-, it can become a little bit routine. But I want you to take a moment and really think about what that word means to you, because it means something really special and personal to me. </p> <p>Now, you don't – probably, a lot of you don't know about my background. I come from a pretty humble background and small beginnings. I wasn’t raised by a family of lawyers or judges, or there were no politicians in my family. My dad was one of ten kids. My mom and her sister lived in a little two-bedroom house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My parents moved to Nevada looking for opportunity. So what did that mean to me? My first job, cleaning sheep pens. A second job, bussing tables. A third job, scrubbing pots. A fourth job, loading and unloading trucks. And after that, I was a casino tour bus greeter. True story. </p> <p>Now it wasn’t glamorous, and in fact, it was a lot of really hard work, but it taught me a lot. In fact, everything that I've come up or that I have done up until this day has really prepared me for what I've done – for what I do now, especially cleaning the sheep pen part. [Chuckling] Now I’ve learned the value of hard work, the importance of not giving up. The lesson of sacrificing for the things that matter to you. And I learned that opportunity to succeed is all the more fulfilling and rewarding when it’s earned through struggle and difficulty.</p> <p>Now a wise man once said that satisfaction is in direct proportion to the sacrifice and hard work that you put in. And that anything easily accomplished probably isn’t worth a darn. I never imagined that from my small beginnings that I would have the opportunity I have now to give back to my community, to give back to my state, and have the ability to make a difference in the lives of my fellow citizens. </p> <p>So today, there are more than 1,500 WG gr-, WGU graduates celebrating their decision to pursue your own opportunities in education, health professions, business, information technology. You’ve all made the decision to be the best that you can be. To be successful in your careers, no doubt, but also, and just as importantly, to make the world around you a better place. So to all of our graduates who are taking the next step in your journey as educators, raise your hands. Let’s see you all. Yes. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>You have the opportunity to shape the future. Your role in society cannot be overstated as you invest in the lives of your students and empower them to be leaders, innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and the creators of tomorrow. You have the extraordinary opportunity to change the world one student at a time. Seize that opportunity. </p> <p>Now to our graduates from the College of Health Professions taking the next step as healthcare providers, let’s see all of you back there. [Cheering and applause] You’ve been given a remarkable gift. No everyone can provide the compassion, skill, and expertise under pressure that you're able to offer to the most vulnerable among us. Having reached this new point in your careers, you have acquired a special set of tools that will enable you to save lives and to give hope for those most in need. You have the opportunity to change the world one patient at a time. Seize that opportunity. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>To our graduates from the College of Business, let’s see all of you. Yeah. [Cheering and applause] You are on the front lines of this emerging economy, what I mentioned, the fourth industrial revolution. Your optimism and creativity will drive the innovations that continue to redefine our communities. You have the extraordinary opportunity to ensure that these advances in commerce and technology and the innovations behind the 21st Century economy are not only profitable but elevate our quality of life as well. Seize that opportunity.</p> <p>And to our graduates from the College of Information Technology, let’s see you from way back there. [Cheering and applause] You play an invaluable role that will continue to expand as we further integrate technology into more and more aspects of our daily lives. Cyberspace is the new frontier, and whether you're working to keep our cyber infrastructure safe and secure or protecting personal and private data for consumers, or helping design software and information solutions that sustain our digitally connected global community, you have the extraordinary opportunity to apply new technologies in ways the rest of us haven’t even imagined. Seize that opportunity.</p> <p>Now a very, very close friend of mine told me that anything is possible. Anything is possible, and she’s right. No matter what program you’ve completed, or where you're headed in your next professional career, each one of you represents why opportunity is more than just a word. You're proof positive it’s real. Your hard work and your belief in yourself is why no matter who you are, where you came from, all of you can pursue your dreams because as I stand here before you today, I’m living proof that opportunity is not defined by what your last name is, your income bracket, how old you are – and by the way, an 87-year-old graduate? Is that person here with us today? Well, if they're watching online, well done. [Chuckles] [Applause]</p> <p>Your zip code doesn’t matter, or the color of your skin. Rather opportunity is defined by your willingness to believe that you can reach your full potential, that you can achieve great things, and that you can make a difference in the world. That idea is the very essence of what we’re talking about when we refer to the American Dream, and I believe the chancellor talked about that. </p> <p>Now I had to research where American Dream came from, and I was really surprised. But it was a phrase that was made popular by a writer named James Truslow Adams in 1931. He wrote that the American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone. With opportunity for each according to ability or achievements. A dream of a society in which everyone can attain their fullest potential and be recognized for who they are, regardless of the circumstances of birth or position. </p> <p>WGU has offered you the opportunity to pursue your own American Dream, and you have seized that opportunity. For that, I congratulate each one of you, and I encourage you to all embrace that next great opportunity that comes your way. So again, thank you for the privilege and the honor for being able to participate in the ceremony today. And again, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the people of the great state of Nevada, congratulations WGU, Class of 2018. [Cheering and applause] God bless all of you, and God bless the United States of America, the greatest nation on earth. Thank you. [Cheering and applause]</p>
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