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WGU Graduate Speaker, Adrienne Saulsberry, Winter 2016

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Adrienne Saulsberry, Winter 2016
Western Governors University
<p>Adrienne Saulsberry of Hephzibah, Georgia, was working at a nuclear site, a job that paid well and provided security for the future. Still, she always dreamed of finishing her chemistry degree—but her local colleges simply wouldn't fit her busy schedule as a working adult. Then, when federal sequestration resulted in budget cuts for her plant, Adrienne was laid off. She saw the blessing in disguise and devoted herself to completing her degree. She found WGU, where she earned her B.A. Science Education, and now she has fulfilled her lifelong dream of being a teacher.</p> <p>Adrienne Saulsberry earned her Bachelor of Arts, Special Education degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Good morning, WGU graduates. My name is Adrienne Saulsberry, and my journey to this stage is a story about finishing. After graduating third in my high school class, and completing a couple of semesters of college, I landed a very coveted job at a local nuclear site. This was the job that you could work for 30 years, earning a good middle class income, and retire without any worry.</p> <p>I took the job and worked hard. Throughout the years I continued to take night classes in hopes of completing a chemistry degree. But I was able to work my way up through the company into management but was still unable to finish my degree for various reasons. I met with a lot of frustration, after finding that the local brick and mortar colleges would not cater to working adults. They would not offer the major classes that I needed during the evening.</p> <p>So the only way I could complete by degree was to quit my job or by some other drastic means like taking a leave of absence. So I hit a brick wall. Then, in 2013, after working 23 years on my job, the company was faced with making cuts after the government cut our funding through sequestration. I had always imagined leaving the company on my own terms, with degree in hand, and prepared to do what my heart desired, to work in a career that I loved. Instead, I was laid off.</p> <p>When I finally came out of the fog of what had happened, I realized that this was actually my opportunity to complete my degree and actually do what I love teach and inspire the next generation. Still frustrated with my previous experience, I began to research online schools and found WGU. I was pleasantly surprised about what was offered but was still skeptical.</p> <p>After feeling satisfied though about WGU's national and regional accreditation, the low cost, the exceptional business model of them being student centered and knowledge based. And after reading so many positive comments from recent graduates I decided to give WGU a try. That was absolutely the best decision I could've made.</p> <p>I was finally on my way to completing my goal, so I started courses in March, 2014. And the first semester I was assigned my student mentor, who was able to help guide me through my challenges. In my previous experience at the local brick and mortar college I remember feeling like no one cared one way or the other what I was achieving or whether I would ever complete my goal. Having constant access to my student mentor was key and provided for me the stability and constant accountability that I needed.</p> <p>As I completed my first semester in September 2014, I then set a goal to get accepted into fall demonstration teaching by September 2015, and to graduate by December 2015. This seemed impossible because it meant that I had to pass 16 courses, 50 credits, complete preclinical experience in the spring, pass the Praxis, and then pass the Georgia GACE in the short period of only nine months.</p> <p>Yet I dug in, and set my mind to complete the tasks, but there were challenges outside my control. Number one, I transitioned to a new mentor just as I was getting ready to apply for provisional acceptance with most of the tasks completed. Yet this challenge became a blessing as we worked together. My mentor learned to embrace my impossible goals, [Laughter]... and I learned that she was another great WGU mentor just like my previous one. Thank you both. [Applause] Thank you both Gina and Leone for believing in me, and for all your support.</p> <p>Number two, after overcoming this obstacle and getting accepted into the fall cohort, I was finally engrossed in my demonstration teaching. But after a few weeks, tragedy struck in a way that I could never have imagined. My oldest brother unexpectedly passed away and there was a hole in my heart. You see, I am the youngest of ten siblings, and there had never been a time in my life where there were not ten of us.</p> <p>But through God's grace, I was able to continue. And my prayer to God was for the strength to see my family through and for me to be able to finish before my 45th birthday, on November the 18th, 2015. I completed demonstration teaching on October 23rd. I officially graduated from WGU on November the 10th. And I received my Georgia teachers certification on November 17th one day prior to my 45th birthday. [Applause]</p> <p>So now, I'm finished. And my goal is complete. My brother is smiling down from heaven. I have the support of my wonderful, loving husband, Tommy, who has been my rock, and stuck with me through it all. [Applause]</p> <p>And although they have been proud of me in many other ways, my elderly parents who were not able to be here today, but they have lived to see their youngest daughter complete her education and transition into the career that she loves, being a high school teacher responsible for the education of the nation's youth and able to bring into the classroom all my personal experiences from working over 20 years in environmental safety and health. And now I'm currently working with underprivileged children in my local high school, the same high school I got my start. [Applause]</p> <p>And I'm using all my education and experience to teach these students the value of being well educated in science and math, to be able to compete for STEM jobs in the 21st century. [Applause]</p> <p>But most of all, to say to them, regardless of how you start, or how you get off track, you can finish because I did. So thank you WGU for giving me the opportunity to share with my graduating class and for helping me finish. Thank you.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)