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WGU Graduate Speaker, Anne Wolf, Summer 2008
WGU Graduate Speaker, Anne Wolf, Summer 2008
Western Governors University
<p>Anne Wolf earned her Master of Business Administration, Management and Strategy degree. On July 19, 2008 Wolf was a graduate speaker at the Winter 2008 WGU Commencement. This WGU Commencement took place at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Anne Wolf: Thank you. And good morning. Congratulations, Class of 2008. It's my pleasure to be here and my honor to be chosen to speak. I know that many of you have your stories that you could tell and I'm happy to have the opportunity to share mine with you.</p> <p>As I reflect on the journey of the last two years I can't help but make the comparison of last time I stood in a cap and gown and received my undergraduate degree from Cal State Long Beach. Like many of you, perhaps, I'm a returning student and there have been quite a few years in between these two events. At that time it marked a special moment, not only for me, but also for our family. I was the first in my family to ever graduate from a university.</p> <p>We had arrived in the United States in 1963 from Scotland when I was only four years old. My father had come over six months before us, typical story of an immigrant family, and worked two jobs to save the money to bring my mum, my sister, and my brother and I to a better life. It wasn't that Scotland was a terrible place, quite the opposite, in fact. But my parents, especially my dad, knew that in America he could offer his family educational and economical opportunities that he couldn’t in Scotland. There, higher education was reserved for the very upper class, not the working class as we were.</p> <p>I've just returned from my homeland this week, in fact, and took my children Megan and William back home for the first time to see what an incredibly beautiful place it is. It's hard for me to imagine how different my life would have turned out if my parents had not made that brave choice to pack us all up and bring us across the pond. Because of that choice my sister Marie, who is here today, also is a college graduate and is currently pursuing her master's degree at Cal State Fullerton. My niece Shauna is also here, and graduated this spring in geology and will soon be pursuing her master's degree in geology.</p> <p>Attending or affording higher education is still unheard of for most families in Scotland, but it's now part of the legacy for our family here in the United States. So when I walked across that stage at Cal State Long Beach in 1982 I looked out at the crowd and realized just what a gift I had been given by my parents. Of course, at that time I was 21, and let's face it, it was still all a little too much about, well, me, as most 21 year olds believe. I remember on that day saying, "I did it." Well, one of the biggest differences is between the journey of receiving this degree versus that one is that I've learned and realized there's a lot less "I" and a lot more "we" in this one. Again, like many of you, I have an incredibly supportive family, they were with me every step of the way on this journey.</p> <p>Quite a few people asked how I could attend an online university without ever stepping foot onto the campus. My answer was that, for me, my campus was the wolf campus in Scottsdale, Arizona. When I look out and look at all of you, I can imagine WGU campuses that sprouted up all over the country, in living rooms and dining room tables, and wherever else you could find a place to study.</p> <p>At my campus more often than not it was my son Will who would encourage me that I could, indeed, make it through accounting. And believe me, that was touch and go. [Laughter] Or my husband Jeff who told me he was proud of me when I finally passed the CMBA. And for those of you who have your MBA, you know what I'm talking about. And of course, my mentor Dr. Bob. Thank goodness for Dr. Bob who was only a phone call away. And my pen pal, and fellow student Pam Berin, who was only an email away.</p> <p>Like many of you, I faced my share of challenges along the way, as well. My biggest challenge turned out to be my biggest inspiration and another part of the "we" of why I'm here today. When I started my degree it was with a clear mind, that I finally have the time and was ready to make the investment to attain my MBA, something that had been a lifelong goal of mine. Our kids were growing up and becoming more independent, my job as a consultant was manageable, and my husband was busy with his job at Apple. There were no distractions to stand in my way -- accept perhaps this hat. [Laughter]</p> <p>Well, my dad always says, "You make plans and God laughs." Well, I don't think he was laughing this time, but shortly after starting my program my daughter Megan came down with a series of symptoms that escalated quickly to a series of very complicated illnesses. This took her through two years of pain and uncertainty as we searched for answers and a treatment for what turned out to be a combination of painful auto immune diseases. Over the course of the last two years she has been out of the hospital about six times, gone through dozens of tests, had her blood drawn too many times to count, and endured treatments that were sometimes painful, and many times frightening. As a mom it was critical that I be with her every step of the way.</p> <p>It would certainly have been easy for me to forgo my studies and forget this whole MBA thing, right? Well, maybe, if you didn't have a daughter like Megan it would be. It's hard to ignore your own studies when you have a teenage daughter who is battling illness but continues to be an honor student herself, and continually asks you, "Hey, Mom, how's that MBA coming along?" She never let me forget my original goal and how important attaining it had been to me. She also let me know, in no uncertain terms, as only she can, that it would not be okay for me to let her illness be a reason for me not to finish my program. Her strength and unwavering commitment to her own excellence drove me to achieving my own.</p> <p>I'm very happy to say my daughter Megan is now 16, healthy and strong, and is here today with my son Will. And I'm very proud of her and everything she has attained to help me be here today. Thank you, Megan. [Applause]</p> <p>I have to say that with the unexpected complications that I faced I don't know that there's any other program in the world that could have accommodated my special circumstances except WGU. Every single instructor was so incredibly accommodating and understanding when I had to make a change or had a delay, there was never a question with them of what my priorities should be which made me want to commit to the program all the more.</p> <p>The guiding force in all of this was my mentor, Dr. Bob Finklemeyer. Again, like many of you, my mentor was my single constant in my relationship with WGU. His guidance through, not only, my academic progress, but also navigating the changes I had to make when Megan was ill was truly extraordinary. And if I could take just a moment to acknowledge every single mentor in the program I would just really like to do that. Thank you. [Applause]</p> <p>So that's the "we" in my story, it's quite a journey from a small town in Scotland to this spot. I look out at all of you and can only imagine the "we" in your stories. I wish I knew all of them and how things worked on your campus that lead you here today, whatever challenged you, whatever inspired you, and whomever in your life helped you arrive in this place will stay with you forever.</p> <p>For me, I will thank my mum, who is now gone. And my dad for making that decision so many years ago. My son Will, my husband Jeff, my brave and inspiring daughter Megan. The rest of my family, my mentor Dr. Bob, the faculty and staff at WGU, and the class of 2008. We did it. Thank you.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
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