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WGU Commencement Address from the Honorable Eric Holcomb
WGU Commencement Address from the Honorable Eric Holcomb
Western Governors University
<p>Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb addressed graduates at the WGU 2017 regional commencement, hosted by WGU Indiana. The commencement ceremony was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. WGU Indiana Chancellor, Dr. Allison Barber introduces Governor Holcomb. And WGU President, Scott Pulsipher closes the video.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Dr. Alison Barber: Good morning and welcome to our 2017 WGU Commencement. We're thrilled to have you here. If you are from Indiana, and you're a Hoosier, it's great to see you. Yes, we love our Hoosiers. And if you're from out of state, welcome to the great state of Indiana, thank you for coming. [Applause] </p> <p>On behalf of the entire university, we welcome our honored graduates. We admire your tenacity, your grit, your determination, and we applaud your completion. We also extend a welcome and a Hoosier warm welcome to all of our family and friends who are here, and those who are watching via live stream on the web. Thank you for joining us today. </p> <p>I'm honored to be joined here today on the stage by some special guests. Of course, Governor Holcomb, who we'll hear from shortly. I welcome my WGU faculty members, and friends, our president, Scott Pulsipher; Dave Grove, Pat Partridge, Melissa Flores, Dr. Linda Gunn, Dr. Jan Jones Schenk, Joan Mitchell, and Warren Junium. Thank you for joining us today. [Applause] </p> <p>Graduates, I wish you could see what I see, because right behind you I see a crowd of family, and friends who, if I were to guess, you might be sitting at the front of this auditorium because they're sitting at the back of the auditorium. And I'd like to invite all the family and friends who are here today to support our amazing graduates, would you stand up so we can recognize your amazing support? [Applause] </p> <p>WGU is honored to be recognized as a military friendly school, and I'd like to take a moment to recognize our graduates who are in the military, the reserve, active duty reserves or veterans. Would you please stand so we can recognize you? [Applause] </p> <p>Our military community are wearing a patriotic ribbon, so you'll note them as you see them in the lobby as well. And we appreciate your service. </p> <p>It's hard to believe that 18 years ago, Western Governors University enrolled its first student. And today, we are proud that we have over 94,000 graduates around the country. Today, we are recognizing 500 of you. Half of receiving your master's, half receiving your bachelor's degrees. You've come from 26 states. The furthest has come from California. Our youngest graduate today is 18, our oldest graduate today is 67. [Applause] </p> <p>So if you're sitting in the crowd and you're wondering if you can do it, you can do it too. You know, only 34 percent of Americans have a bachelor's degree, so you've set yourself apart. Only 8 percent of Americans have a master's degree, so you are poised for success because of what you have accomplished, and we're proud to celebrate that with you today. </p> <p>When you enrolled in WGU, we made you a promise. And we said we would help you achieve your dream. Not our dream your dream of degree completion and career success. And so I applaud you for accomplishing that dream today, and I thank you for letting us be on the journey with you. Today is our best day at WGU and you make it so. Congratulations, graduates. [Applause] </p> <p>So graduates, you know our education model is competency based. If you aren't familiar with competency based education, really simply put, it lets you use your prior learning and knowledge to accelerate to your goal. If competency based model were a politician, it would be Eric Holcomb.</p> <p>As a life long Hoosier, the Governor developed competencies of hospitality, and respect for all citizens. As a veteran of the United States Navy, he formed his competencies of patriotism, discipline, focus, and teamwork. As a trusted advisor to former governor Mitch Daniels, and the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, the Governor developed experiences in the importance of responsible governing. And as Lieutenant Governor, he deepened his knowledge about the diverse needs of Hoosiers, and the role of government leaders to shape policies to meet those needs. </p> <p>So it comes as no surprise that when the governor decided to run for governor, he was able to bundle all of those competencies from his previous jobs, and all of his learning and experience to mount a successful campaign. What is a little surprising is he did that all in 106 days. From the time he announced to the time he became our governor, 106 days. Now, you want an example of using your competencies to accelerate to your goal? It's our governor. </p> <p>I could share many more attributes about Governor Holcomb, but let me offer one final thought. Our governor is a believer in the WGU mission, and a supporter of all we do. So it is a true honor for me to introduce my friend, and the 51st governor of the great state of Indiana, Governor Holcomb. [Applause] </p> <p>Governor Eric Holcomb: First and foremost, good morning to the graduates and to the WGU faculty and staff, and all the friends and family that have come from all over the country to be with us this morning, to celebrate the 2017 WGU graduating class. Good morning to one and all. That is an understatement. It is a great morning. It is a great morning in Indiana, and I'm just thrilled to be with you this morning to celebrate with the graduates and to share the stage with WGU president, Scott Pulsipher, and Indiana's chancellor, Alison Barber and all the gathered WGU leadership here on stage, and throughout the hall. </p> <p>By the way, you know, I haven't shared this with you, Scott, but I tried to hire Alison Barber like 18 times and she keeps saying no, so I don't know what's in the water or what you're feeding her, or what incriminating evidence you have, but I just can't seem to pry her away from WGU. And I consider myself fortunate that she has stayed and she continues to lead this charge. There is none more important in our state at this time. </p> <p>Because I too remember just a few years ago, when we were celebrating on a day just as this occasion, and there were seven seven graduates that day. And I called those seven "pioneers" because they truly were blazing a new trail for so many since, like yourselves, to follow. </p> <p>Today, over 5,000 students, graduates, just here in Indiana have earned their degrees from WGU. You've all collectively just grown by leaps and bounds in such a relatively short period of time. And I know, I hear it, on a regular basis that WGU always, and rightfully so, gives most of that growth credit to you, the students and the graduates. </p> <p>But I did want to just highlight how profusely grateful we are to the leadership at WGU. It is this is making such a positive difference in families in our state, and indeed, all across the country. And that's the why we are doing it. But the how that you are doing it is what is just so impressive to me and so many other onlookers. WGU continues to be visionary and is transforming the very model of higher education. Always, always for the better of the person, that Chancellor Barber spoke to just earlier, by making this whole experience and this step in your journey always student centered, or should I rather say "careerist centered." </p> <p>But again, most of all, I'm most honored to be with you, the graduates. This is indeed a very special day for our state and for our nation. You know, I realize that commencement speakers are expected and supposed to provide some inspiration, but I will just confess to you, secondly, that it is you that I derive so much inspiration from, from my perspective because of your hard work, because of your determination, because of your perseverance. </p> <p>I understand half around the country half of you are earning advanced degrees. A quarter, 25 percent of you graduating are changing lanes, changing careers. And this degree is enabling you to do that. Another quarter percent are pursuing a degree for the very first time. And so, I was asking myself, what is the common denominator to all of this? It's, I believe, that you all best understand that a relevant education, a relevant education is the most fulfilling and the best way onward and upward, and the best way to expand your horizons and the best way to build a bridge to your future opportunities. </p> <p>And at this time, we need a lot of bridge builders. Now, I fully realize, and just knowing a few of the stories, narratives, I fully realize that you all took many different paths to get to this page in your life. But you've all arrived here this morning, shoulder-to-shoulder, equipped and ready to write that next chapter in your life. Because you've found a way, I believe, to pursue a career in which you're passionate about. And today you take a giant, a giant leap forward in your life. And it's going to, in many cases, change your family tree forever, and that is legacy building. </p> <p>For some of you, you don't need me to tell you this, but for some of you, when your son or daughter sees their mom and dad in cap and gown, their expectations are instantly changed forever. Now they too expect to go to college. And that's a generational cycle of lower expectations being broken and raised up. Or maybe you'll convince a co worker or a neighbor, because you did this, that in fact, they can too. And you will break a cycle of what has been indecision in someone else's life. </p> <p>You broke it because of this WGU experience and this degree. It's truly your golden ticket to success, and it's going to enable you to chart your course, your own path, and fulfill your own destiny to determine what that destiny is, and nothing that I can think of is more invigorating than that. That's why Indiana is so proud to have WGU in our Hoosier state. And I know that I can speak for my fellow gubernatorial cohorts that they too feel exactly the same way with WGU in their state. </p> <p>I see WGU campuses literally as legacy launch pads all over the country, located exactly where you live, your exact address. And when you move, WGU moves with you. And we need more launch pads in this country as well, because to quote Noble Laureate Bob Dylan, "the times, they are a changing." </p> <p>Think about it. For a kindergartner starting school today, 60 percent of the jobs that will need to be filled when they graduate from high school, 60 percent of those jobs don't exist today. Again, that's the why WGU is so important. It gives access, it gives affordability, and it's aligned with what our workforce needs currently are. That's what I call Triple A access, affordability, and alignment, just like Indiana's state credit rating, by the way. [Laughter] Couldn't help myself. But I will add a fourth, I'll add a fourth A agility. </p> <p>WGU and certainly you, the students and the graduates, WGU is agile. Providing you, the students, again, the flexibility to meet and become equipped for those jobs of not just today, but five years from now, and 15 years from now, and 20 years from now. Let me put it in perspective for you. </p> <p>Today, there are, as Chancellor Barber mentioned, 94,000 WGU graduates. And right now, as I speak, there are 92,000 unfilled jobs throughout the state of Indiana. So I've got a crazy idea for you I want to pitch. Now, I know there are a number of folks here today, graduates, and friends and family that traveled great distances to be here, and there are a number of folks watching on live stream that aren't from Indiana as well. There's 26 different states here with us. And as your host, if you're out of towners, I hope you've enjoyed your stay thus far, and I hope you're spending a lot of money while you're here, [Laughter] and I hope you're experiencing our authentic Hoosier hospitality. </p> <p>But I don't think it's not so crazy after all. Here is my not so crazy idea for you. If you're not from here, move here. [Laughter] I mean, literally, not virtually you can do that too, but I mean literally move to Indiana. I want every single WGU student graduating today that doesn't live in Indiana to move here because our state needs you and we want you. We need more highly skilled workers, more disciplined, more dedicated, more "don't take no for an answer" experts in your fields, more problem solvers, more multi taskers, more programmers, more nurses, more teachers, more cycle breakers. We need more everything and I'm looking at it right now. Indiana wants you, and Indiana needs you. </p> <p>I have employers asking me every single day about our workforce. In fact, everywhere I travel in the state, in the country, and around the world business leaders are asking me about how equipped our workforce is. If we're able to meet, and then exceed their expectations. WGU graduates, you are the answer, you are the answer to that question. Because we all know that this degree that you've earned, that you are exactly the hard working, highly skilled folks that they're looking for. And it's in part my job, our job, Indiana's job, to connect you to walk across that bridge with you. So, that's the pitch. You move to Indiana, and you'll have a good job. </p> <p>But wait, that's not all. Low taxes, we've got it. We were just rated best in the Midwest, top 10 in the country. Low cost of living, we're in the top four in the country, we've got that box checked. Thriving cities? I hope you've felt a vibe, all that's going on around you in our capital city. Vibrant rural communities. There's some incredible stuff that's going on out there that's not just changing our state and our nation, but changing the world in our rural communities, scattered all across this great state. And if you move here, we'll even throw in a basketball hoop for your new house, so. [Laughter] </p> <p>I could go on and on and on and on, but I'll stop there. But just, please, give it some thought. Mull it over. And wherever you... end up, on your next step, and the step after that on this journey, just know how incredibly proud of you we are. And incredibly thankful that you didn't settle along the way. And you're sticking close to what you're truly passionate about. I cannot wait. We're going to hear some compelling stories. And I can't wait to hear the next story, and the next story, and the next story and how just infectious your experience has been on the community, on the society around you. </p> <p>I see a lot of talent in this room. I see more wisdom than a tree full of owls. I had to get that in there too. And I know that you are now on the path to accomplishing some extraordinary things for yourselves, and for your families. And if you could do it all here in Indiana that would be great too. We want you. Thank you for allowing me to be part of this absolutely unforgettable day, and congratulations on this well earned, well earned accomplishment. Congratulations graduates. [Applause] </p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: Graduates, please accept our sincere congratulations. All of us at WGU are so proud of the accomplishments, and we welcome you into our now 94,000 strong alumni across the entire United States. I will extend my personal gratitude to each of you who have decided to actually make a difference and change your life. It is truly inspiring to be a part of this, and it is wonderful to see the inspiration that comes from each and every one of your stories. </p> <p>And even while we have 90,000 plus students today, we strive to ensure that every individual has a personal experience, that they have the opportunity to have the support and the guidance and the instruction and the counseling and that individualized experience that ensures that each of you have the potential to achieve the goals that you've set for yourself as well as that as you attain your degree, that you also find a path to new opportunity and to allow you to change your life. </p> <p>For many of you, earning your diploma is the fulfillment of this lifelong goal. The academic degree you have earned at WGU will surely 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 new beginning. I encourage you to explore your dreams, dare to discover, and follow your passions. And whatever you choose to do, do it as well as you possibly can and great things will follow. </p> <p>Some time ago I was asked this simple question: Scott, do you love the world in you, or do you love you in the world? And at first I didn't understand the point of the question, but as I contemplated that, I started to realize that in fact, our world would be a much better place if we in fact loved ourselves in the world because we see ourselves uplifting those around us, that others with whom we associate are better because of our association with them. That we see the opportunity to truly become selfless. </p> <p>In fact, selflessness in many ways, might be the truest characteristic of one who understands their true identity. And so I encourage each of you to also develop a sense of loving yourself in the world, and the great things that you can do in it. </p> <p>Learning is a lifelong journey, and one that is now a habit of both your mind and your heart. I urge you to continue your journey, to reach out to others in pursuit of their dreams. Identify meaningful ways to contribute to your communities, and to your neighbors, to your families, and help us find our way as a united country, to a brighter pathway for our children and our children's children. </p> <p>Now let's take a minute and as is the sign of the time, if you have a phone on, and I've seen some of you taken already, a selfie with the governor. So, if you could, get out that phone, and let's actually take a selfie, if you would. So I'm gonna ask Chancellor Barber, and Governor Holcomb to get up here with me, and we're gonna get all of you in our selfie, but you should stand up and take a selfie so you can get the crowd behind you in that picture as well. </p> <p>Okay! So, [Applause]. Now make sure you take advantage of all the social platforms out there and tag that with the hashtag WGUGrad. Again, congratulations to all of you. It is truly a wonder experience for us to be a part of this, and it is inspiring to all of us, and I'm sure it is inspiring to you, and to your family, to your friends. </p> <p>And now, I ask that we simply remain seated until our graduates have filed out, and congratulations again, and thank you. [Applause] </p>
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