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WGU Graduate Speaker, Alex Sandoval Jr., Summer 2013

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Alex Sandoval Jr., Summer 2013
Western Governors University
<p>Alex Sandoval Jr., a Western Governors University Class of Summer 2013 B.A. in Special Education graduate from San Diego, California, grew up in a neighborhood plagued by gangs, violence, teen pregnancy, and other barriers to academic success. He also faced a rare and debilitating vision problem that nearly derailed his education as an adolescent. But Alex was also equipped with something else: A determination to succeed, and the knowledge that education was how he would get there. Today, thanks to WGU, he has his teaching degree, and he vows to use that degree to give back to the community he grew up in, ensuring education is the path to a better future for kids growing up where he did. He runs an after-school program at his local middle school—and last month, the principal of that school offered him a teaching job for the upcoming school year!</p> <p>Alex Sandoval Jr. earned his Bachelor of Arts, Special Education degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Hello. I first want to say hi to my brother and my nephew watching online. Love you guys. Fellow graduates, we did it. [Laughter] I would first like to thank all of the friends and family who came out to support their respective graduate as well as all of the wonderful WGU faculty and staff for helping us out, especially in times of need.</p> <p>I want to give a special thank you to all of our wonderful mentors who held our hand during this whole journey always providing positive and encouraging words when we needed them the most as well as keeping us on track to help us get to this point: graduation. Dorothy Cox. Where are you?</p> <p>My name is Alex Sandoval. And I majored in Special Education here at WGU. Just like you, there were times when I wanted to pull my hair out, while others I softly cried myself to sleep. [Laughter] Of course there were the many deadlines that were passed and other great triumphs, but I won't bore you with those details. Instead I come to tell you my story.</p> <p>As a kid growing up, I was always pushed to try my best in school. My mom and dad would always say, "I want you to have a better life than what we had." Of course, the occasional scold and a Super Nintendo helped to keep me in line. I grew up in the Southeastern Inner City part of San Diego, where gangs and violence were a common sight. And broken homes were part of the norm. The only positive influence on me were my family and teachers. That foundation of support would continue to be a great influence on me and the decisions that I would make from a young boy to even now.</p> <p>My first life obstacle came to me as middle school approached. I found that my vision was deteriorating and year after year, my sight was getting worse. The many trials and errors with glasses over the years would prove only to be a slight aid to my vision, giving me some hope of complete sight. After years of failing visual support, I gave up on glasses. And the first two years of high school were a complete mess. I honestly don't know how I did it. In order to read anything, I had to have a piece of paper directly in front of my face while squinting to read. This greatly brought down my social efforts and self-esteem. I mean come on, a high school boy who can't see the ladies? [Laughter]</p> <p>Luckily, with the support of teachers, help was found to offer in class support and provide various visual aides to help me succeed, as well as medical services to see what exactly was going on. I came to find out that I had a progressive eye condition called keratoconus. This is the continuous protrusion of the cornea curving to the shape of a cone rather than staying nice and round.</p> <p>It was at this time that gas permeable hard contact lenses were prescribed and eventually changed my life. Once I had them, my grades soared even more and my true personality came out. I joined drama and became lead actor in all of their plays for the remainder of high school. Breakfast Club. Grease. [Laughter] It was also in drama that I met the love of my life who finally said yes last December once I put a ring on it. [Applause] After seven years of putting up with me.</p> <p>But even with this ordeal I still managed to make grades, expand my social life, and excel in school. Finding WGU has been a true blessing and has me to excel and complete my bachelor's program within a year and a half. Having a college degree is a self-gratifying goal and with it, I plan to teach in the community that I was raised in. I currently run an after-school program at my local middle school and I know that helping these kids see a more promising future's my calling. With determination and things I've learned at WGU, I know I can make a positive impact on our children of the future and show them that there is a better path. Traditionally in my family, both on my mom's and dad's side, I should've dropped out of high school, been in a gang, and have had a couple kids by now. No one on either side of my family has graduated high school until I did. [Applause]</p> <p>Being the oldest of four, I felt that I had a responsibility to my siblings. Being the first to change the history in my family was my way to break the cycle and show them that it can be done. You don't have to be a product of your environment or have the past dictate your future. You are in charge of your own destiny. And though there may be obstacles, it is how we handle those moments that will eventually make us who we are.</p> <p>When looking back, I'm amazed at all of the things that I've accomplished. Coming from the area that I'm from, overcoming all the obstacles in my way. And finally changing the history of my family. I'm so grateful of these accomplishments and to all of the great support in my life. Because of them, I'm here sharing my story with you. And as of last month, I received a job offer from the principle that I work at inviting me to a full-time teacher for the upcoming school year. [Applause]</p> <p>Dreams don't have to be wishes that you want but a reality as well. Thank you and congratulations to us, the Class of 2012-'13.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)