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WGU Graduate Speaker, Amanda Chavez

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Amanda Chavez
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Graduate Amanda Chavez spoke at the WGU Bachelor's Commencement in Las Vegas, Nevada.</p> <p>Amanda Chavez earned her Bachelor of Science, Business Management degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Amanda Chavez: Hello, I'm Amanda Chavez. And my WGU journey started in 2013, which was the toughest year of my life. Sharing openly about the trials I endured is still tough for me, because it was filled with agony as my married and world came crashing down.</p> <p>First my father, hero, and role model, was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Seeing his health deteriorate before my eyes was devastating. Simultaneously, I was facing my own physical pain at the hands of my abusive ex-husband. </p> <p>Because of that fear, I dared not speak a word from it. Separated from my family in another state, I had married my high school sweetheart and uprooted my life to be with him when he joined the Army. His drug use, adultery, and theft from my personal bank account plagued our marriage. He became extremely violent, possessive, and controlling.</p> <p>In this midst of this, I discovered I was pregnant. My survival instincts kicked in and after failed attempts to get him help, I started trying finding ways to get me home. Unfortunately this would soon prove to be an uphill battle as my ex-husband depleted my accounts and was keen on seeing me starve. [Applause] </p> <p>A few weeks earlier my dad had helped me sign up for WGU. I had been hiding emails and papers, but this was my shiny beacon of hope. Unfortunately things do not always pan out as we hope. The first day of my semester, my mentor, [Tasha Vatka?] called me while my ex-husband was in a violent fit of rage. The call went to voicemail, but as our mentors do, she called back. This time, I answered, and broke down, and told her of the hell I'd been living through. I'm so blessed to know her, because she has been a strong advocate for me since that day. Thank you, Tasha. [Laughs] [Applause] </p> <p>Next I garnered enough courage to let my family know. Finally the Army and my family were able to get me home safely. Penniless I returned home with one suitcase and my dog. My ex-husband sold my laptop, desktop, my wedding rings, but I felt a mix of bravery, strength, and brokenness all at once. </p> <p>I began to think I would never finish school, but then miraculously, WGU rushed me a laptop, and financial services helped me get money for a desktop. The semester carried out, but I was struggling with my mental and physical health. I was pregnant, depressed, suffering extreme migraines, and my own kidney disease diagnosis seemed too much to bear.</p> <p>Worst, my ex-husband held my WGU welcome kit webcam hostage until I would see him. I didn't have any money to replace it, but once again, WGU showed their unwavering support and sent me a new one. [Applause] </p> <p>I felt as though every step forward was followed by three back. My dog that had been with me through my abusive relationship, died, and my dad was hospitalized. Each time I was offered a term break, I refused. I needed to stay strong. I had always thought of strength in the physical sense of the word. Little did I know that being strong isn't only physical, but it's also the ability to start over. </p> <p>I decided no matter what the odds were against me or my baby who too had endured the abuse, I was gonna start over. After a difficult pregnancy, my daughter was born. She was tiny, sick, but alive. And things began to look up. I was awarded a restraining order against my ex-husband and full custody over my daughter. [Applause] </p> <p>My parents and family have been such a blessing with their encouragement and guidance. WGU stood by my side even when society said, "A single working mother cannot achieve degree." I'm thankful to have been accepted and refer everyone to WGU. My younger brother is now even enrolled thanks to my referral code. [Laughter] </p> <p>I had lost everything: My job, friends, marriage, money, my dog, my health, my car, my good credit, and everything that goes into a home. I thank God and WGU for turning this nightmare into many blessings. I now have my bachelor's degree and have found the -- have married the love of my life, Dallas, hi, who has shown me how love should be. [Applause] </p> <p>We have two happy and healthy daughters and I just wanted to share my journey because of my empathy for those like me who come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, or who have been rejected, or lost everything. I learned that strength is epitomizing by taking back the power and ultimately deciding who you want to be. I know many of you have your own -- have had your own struggles and obstacles, but today we celebrate the triumph and give thanks for the love and support that helped us along the way. Congratulations graduates of 2018. We made it. [Applause] </p>
Western Governors University
© 2018 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)