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WGU Graduate Speaker, Angie Keilhauer
WGU Graduate Speaker, Angie Keilhauer
Western Governors University
<p>Saturday, April 27, 2019 WGU Commencement in Cincinnati, Ohio. Angie Keilhauer was a graduate speaker. Angie Keilhauer earned a Bachelor of Science, Marketing Management degree.</p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: That's really pretty good. Like who catches the early bird? The night owls. [Chuckles] Hey, Jay, you know it's never too late to finish that degree. I might know a university that could help you out. [Laughter] [applause] </p> <p>Thank you again. And now we have the privilege from hearing from two of our graduates. They are: Rayna Moore, Master of Arts Teaching Science Education from Payne, Ohio. And, as you already heard, Angie Keilhauer, Bachelor of Science, Marketing Management from Nashville, Tennessee, who also sang our national anthem today. </p> <p>Angie Keilhauer: Oh, that was so good. Also made me hungry for ice cream. [Chuckles] </p> <p>"Crazy. You're totally crazy." That's what I was told when two years into my college education I decided to drop out and become a singer/song writer. I still vividly remember calling my parents and telling them the great news. "Hey, mom, dad, I'm letting go my scholarship, dropping out and I'm going to sing and play guitar." They were super stoked. Kidding. [Chuckles] They were very, very scared. [Chuckles] </p> <p>To give you a little background, my parents, right over there, my mom's probably sobbing right now they are the hardest working human beings I've ever met. When I was 11 they moved my sisters and I from El Salvador to the United States. They sacrificed so much, left their home so that me and my sisters could have a better life and access to a world class college education. </p> <p>The privilege and opportunity of living in this country isn't lost on me. But the longer I spent on the traditional college path, the less I felt like it made sense for me. I kept having to turn down amazing opportunities on the road just so I could make it to every Monday lecture at 9 a.m. So, I did what any 19 year old would do, and I gave up my dull dorm room life for an exciting, glamorous life on the road. And I was in for a rude awakening. [Chuckles] </p> <p>My first tours consisted of bars, house concerts, and small venues from the Florida Keys all the way to New York City. I loved sharing my music with the world, but I very quickly found myself struggling. I would go from sold out show to sleeping in my car on the way to the next car. I didn't know things like cash flow and accounting, or how to invest back into what I was doing. I started to revisit the importance of finishing my education, but I didn't think college was an option because I didn't want to sacrifice the momentum I was building on the road. </p> <p>It was around that time that I finally heard about Western Governors University... from my mom. At almost 60 years old, and while working a full time job as an elementary school bookkeeper, my mom decided to go back to college and get her degree from WGU. [Applause] Now you're really going to make her cry. [Chuckles] </p> <p>"Crazy. You're totally crazy." That's what she was told, but still, every morning she woke up early and stayed up late every night. I still remember kind of peeking around the corner and seeing her on the dining room table at almost midnight. All of her notebooks sprawled across the table, her bedazzled reading glasses sparkling from the glare of her laptop. Like many of you in this room, celebrating a graduate, I was deeply moved my her determination. It was that day that I decided to finish my degree at WGU. </p> <p>So fast forward a couple years later, and she graduated. I wiped tears from my eyes, realizing that ever excuse that I ever had to not finish my education: I won't have time, I already have a job, it will be too hard, it's too expensive, I'm not smart enough. All those boulders that I thought were in my path were smashed by someone who had the guts to look up. I think so many people in this world are stuck looking down. Sometimes it just takes one person to point at the sky, that all of the sudden your horizons have been broadened further than you could've ever imagined. </p> <p>So here's a little bit of a plot twist. Two months after I finished my first semester at WGU, I found myself staring directly into the faces of Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Pharrell Williams. I had made it on NBC's "The Voice." </p> <p>As I eagerly chose Team Blake of course I'm not going to lie to you, the commitment I made to a degree was definitely not the first thing on my mind. Still, every week I'd get that same trusty call if I'm being honest voice mail from my mentor [chuckles], always with the same cheery voice. "Hey, Ang, it's Rocky, sorry I missed talking to you. Just checking in. How is the fundamentals of business law going?" [Chuckles] </p> <p>You know, the memorizing legal jargon felt really out of place while simultaneously preparing for a celebrity filled singing contest on prime time television. It was that class that gave me the confidence to actually read the 50 page contract that I had signed. I was able to actually figure out a marketing plan for how to release an album once I was off the show. And the second I came off, that plan is what enabled me to have my first top ten album on iTunes. [Applause] </p> <p>While finishing my degree here at WGU I've also been able to check off a couple of amazing dreams. I was able to release a song for Disney, I've toured all over the U.S. I've just finished a stadium tour opening for Jake Owen. But like I learned from my mom, it's not the accomplishments that we achieve, it's the community that we inspire in the process. </p> <p>So the next time someone tells you, "You're crazy, you're totally crazy," I'm here to tell every one of you, damn right we are. We are not typical. We're a force. This is not a room of people who do not know what they want. Every one of you has a purpose for being here, whether it's in the smiling face of your child, the dream of your very own classroom like Rayna, or maybe like me, their desire to share your art with the world. Whatever it is, it's so powerful. Your purpose is powerful. Because when you work for your purpose, I truly believe it will always work for you. Today is proof of that. </p> <p>So the next time someone tells you to settle, remember sitting in this room. The next time someone makes you feel like backing down or giving up, remember sitting in this room. And the next time someone tries to define what is possible for you, remember sitting in this room. Congratulations graduates, we did the dang thing! [Applause]</p>
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