You are here

WGU Graduate Speaker, Bob McMillen, Summer 2011

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
WGU Graduate Speaker, Bob McMillen, Summer 2011
Western Governors University
<p>Bob McMillen was a student speaker for WGU's 2011 Summer Commencement Ceremony in Salt Lake City. Bob is from Beaverton, Oregon, and graduated with a B.S. in Information Technology-Networks Administration.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>I would like to start off by saying I am the last speaker and the only one standing between you and your diplomas. [Laughter] And I could talk a long time [Laughter], but I won't.</p> <p>I would like to thank a couple of mentors today who helped me complete my journey to a degree at WGU. My mentor, Scott Steuben. And Scott, although I've only known him for a year, went from dating to engaged, and last month he got married. So congratulations to Scott. [Applause] And it's nice to know that he's taking advantage of the accelerated learning programs here at WGU. [Laughter] I'd also like to thank another mentor who's been a good friend to many of us here in the IT, Dr. Leslie Vance. [Applause]</p> <p>When I was young, I met a partner in life I never asked for. This partner trailed me wherever I went, and when I had some degree of success or happiness, many times it was pulled away by this dark specter. Its name was adversity. Adversity had me when I was six years old and I was led away in a speeding car by my parents to the hospital. The world was going dark around me, and my life was slipping away due to an allergic reaction called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. My right lunch collapsed. My skin and fingernails and corneas were sliding off my body. My stomach began to unravel, and my organs began to shut down.</p> <p>My mother sat at my bedside, and although I could no longer see her, she knew what I was asking: "Mom, am I going to die?" "Not today, son. Not today." By some miracle, I lived through that night, and spent the next several weeks in an oxygen tent. Although the pain was unbearable, I somehow made it through, although I would literally see stars when someone would touch my arm. Then one day, I stood up for the first time in more than a month, and my vision cleared in my right over the next year. Adversity may take me one day, but not today.</p> <p>Although I've had relapses and chronic illnesses that has allowed adversity to stay close to me, and sometimes just lagging behind, other times it's as though it's leading me by a leash. One such relapse kept me from attending my high school graduation, but I vowed when I graduated college I would not let that happen again. [Applause]</p> <p>I am not a victim. I am victorious. And so are you. Many of you today are surrounded by loved ones who may have thought at one time going back to school was not the best idea. Is that right? Yeah. But your success has turned them around and we are all standing here today victorious. Adversity will not have us today.</p> <p>When I went to college in the mid 1990s, there were no degrees in IT administration. I decided to get my Microsoft and other certifications. In my job, I worked my way up the corporate ladder, but one thing employers kept asking me was: "Do you have a degree?" Although certifications were very important, they could not replace a degree.</p> <p>After 9/11/2001, not only did my employment end due to economic issues, but it also gave me another opportunity to stare down adversity. I decided to venture out on my own and start my own business. My first job was a call from a company hired by the government to restore the emails from a company called Enron. I was the only person in the area that the company could find that had the experience and certification working with the systems that Enron used, so the Justice Department approved me to do the email restorations.</p> <p>They handed me a piece of paper. It had a list of names: Kenneth Lay, Andrew Fastow, Jeffrey Skilling, and the rest of the "Dirty Dozen." I completed the job, and I was given orders to tell no one about this until it hit the news. After it hit the news, Enron's stock sunk like a rock, but my company shot up like a rocket, and everyone wanted to know what university I attended. I was once again embarrassed to say I had no finished my bachelor's degree.</p> <p>After ten years of running my company, I had a big office, many employees, millions of dollars of sales, but I still didn't have the one thing that would give me the legitimacy that I needed to complete my career. I searched for an online school that wouldn't take me away from my family or my company. I needed a school that would allow me to graduate on my terms.</p> <p>One day, I was on my own website and there was a Google ad for Western Governors University. [Laughter] Apparently, the advertising works. I went ahead and clicked on it, of course, and I knew within five minutes that this was the program I had been looking for. I signed up right away, and a month later I was back in school. My mentor, Scott, had the knowledge to steer me to all the proper places for study materials, and gave me good advice on approaching my classes. I had enough transfer credits from my certifications and previous schooling that I was able to complete my degree in eight months.</p> <p>People asked me how I was able to accelerate my degree while running a business and not alienating my family. I can only say that the blind and feeble six-year-old I once was caused me to see life differently than people who have never experienced that kind of challenge.</p> <p>Many of you are facing that kind of challenge, and you face it down every day. How many of you are survivors of a deadly disease? How many of you are struggling to provide for your children as a single parent? How many of you are facing crushing debt? And how many of you are fighting every day to control your addictions? Every day you come face to face with adversity, and every day you say, "Not today."</p> <p>So, will we give into disease? Say it with me now. "Not today." Will we give in to poverty? "Not today." Will we give in to hate? "Not today." Will we give in to addiction? "Not today." Someday, our body will give up the ghost. Someday, we will pass on into eternity. Someday our resolve is to the breaking point. But not today.</p> <p>Today we graduate Western Governors University. We celebrate a tangible victory we can show our employers, our families, our friends, and most importantly ourselves. We are winners. We are survivors. We are proud. Congratulations, Class of 2011, Western Governors University.</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)