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WGU Graduate Speaker, Andrea Petty, Summer 2015

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Andrea Petty, Summer 2015
Western Governors University
<p>Andrea Petty of Las Vegas earned her bachelor's degree in Marketing Management from WGU after a lifelong struggle with self doubt, which began with her mother telling her, "You'll never go to college." As a young woman with the responsibility of caring for her two teenage sisters, a career marred by starts and stops, and a future clouded by uncertainty, Andi looked to an online business degree at WGU to give her the security she needed and the career she was dreaming of. She shared her story at WGU's August 2015 commencement ceremony, held on August 15 at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.</p> <p>Andrea Petty earned her Bachelor of Science, Marketing Management degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>You'll never go to college. This statement engrained in my brain for most of my life by my mother was the main reason why I didn't venture into furthering my education until I was 25 years old. I was the product of parents who unexpectedly had me at a young age and my mother always saw me as the reason that she didn't get further in life. She met my father and nine months later she saw the beginning of my life as the end of hers.</p> <p>My father was in the midst of launching his own business when I came along. Working as a DJ in DC, he realized that there was an entire market for fitness music that no one had tapped into. The best comparison that I can come up with for his time of his life was that he was faced with raising two children while developing his career, and was forced to give his attention to the more profitable one, his company.</p> <p>My dad relocated and I grew up being shipped back and forth, East Coast to West Coast between the two of them. I grew up always feeling like I didn't belong and neither place ever really felt like home. The closest that I found to home was when I would visit my dad and help out at his company. Starting at age 13, I tried every job from receptionist to fulfillment. I even started traveling with him to trade shows and learned how to sell product. I was really good at it. Partly because I was driven by the desire to please my dad, but also because I wanted the company to succeed. I didn't want the closest thing that I had to home to go away.</p> <p>After high school, I decided to move in with my dad out West and begin my youngest adult life in the working world full time. I daydreamed about taking over his company one day, and I put all of my focus and energy into being an all star employee. Unfortunately, the lines between home and office life became very blurry, and that combined with the stress of living and working with each other caused our relationship to explode. I returned to the East Coast, the taste of failure in my mouth, thinking I had lost my home forever.</p> <p>After some time had passed with several moves and ventures into different careers, I reconciled with my dad and was reunited with my one true love, my job. I thought I was back on track. I was older, I was more mature, and I was so excited to throw myself back into work. College still seemed irrelevant to me. My future was owning my dad's business, why did I need to worry about an education?</p> <p>What happened next was a whirlwind of events. Two of my younger sisters, under the care of my mother, decided to file for emancipation and turned to me for help and guidance. I became a 22 year old raising two teenagers and working full time. All of my own dreams simply didn't matter anymore. My priority was to make them feel safe, loved, and to help them succeed. I finally thought I had a grasp on things when life threw the next curve ball. My dad's company was going through a massive restructuring and gone was the chance for it to ever be mine.</p> <p>I was devastated. The only somewhat stable home I had known was being wrenched away from me. I was stuck, degree less, with no clue what I was going to do. The stress that had been building up through everything finally exploded, and I got on board the crazy train. I started partying, and acting really recklessly, anything I could do to distract myself and numb the pain of my broken heart. But with everything that I've experienced, I've learned that life doesn't actually want me to fail.</p> <p>The universe stepped in and saved me before I hurt myself or someone else. A DUI charge, drug and alcohol classes, and a night spent in jail finally forced me to get my life together. I helped my sisters finish up high school and get set up on their own, and then I went back out West to finally give this college thing a chance.</p> <p>I found Western Governors University because I needed something that was flexible, fast, and affordable. I had already wasted too much time. I was inspired by the fact that I would be in control of when I graduated, and how hard I was willing to work would determine my success. I was definitely up for the challenge.</p> <p>Anyone who attends WGU knows the struggle of an online degree program. No one is taking attendance, no one is turning off Netflix and telling you to study, and no one is telling you to go to bed early because you have an exam the next morning. All of that comes from inside of you, and I did it. We did it.</p> <p>The support of people like my student mentor, Christopher Prim, combined with the motivation to succeed for myself, my family, and to prove my mom wrong, is what helped me graduate this past December only two and a half years after starting my degree program. [Applause]</p> <p>I now run a successful digital marketing business that I launched last year, and my relationship with my dad is no longer dictated by my connection with his company. Dad, where are you by the way? Can you wave? Somewhere over? [Applause] Okay!</p> <p>I actually wanted so badly to speak on this stage today just so I could say in front of everyone, "Thank you, Dad." You created an entity that will always hold a huge part of my heart. You've taught and shown me so much, and I'm forever grateful for you. You are my absolute best friend, my role model, and my life companion. My desire to make you proud is what keeps me going whenever I feel like I want to give up. And also, since you had no idea I was giving this speech today, surprise! [Laughter]</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
© 2017 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)