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WGU Graduate Speaker, Bryon Denton, Winter 2015

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Bryon Denton, Winter 2015
Western Governors University
<p>Bryon Denton, MSN—Education, Danville, Illinois, overcame an early childhood marked by physical limitations and barriers to learning to become a master’s-educated nurse, a single father of a special needs son, and an air-med nurse.</p> <p>Bryon Denton earned his Master of Science, Nursing - Education degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>When I think of the path that led me on this journey to standing before you today, there are two words that clearly define my journey: passion and compassion. I'll talk about these two words again in a few minutes.</p> <p>Now, I knew when I was in high school that I wanted to be a nurse, but I did not know how my path was going to lead there, and many did not believe it would be possible. In fact, I remember a nursing instructor telling me I would not graduate. Well, it's been 14 years, and I have the same degree she has today because of a program that fit my life at WGU. [Applause]</p> <p>My amazing journey really starts as a child, though. As an infant and toddler, I had undiagnosed hearing and vision issues, which resulted in me being totally deaf and blind. As I missed developmental milestones, I was entered into an early intervention program, and multiple specialists and social workers told my parents that I had special needs and would not be able to learn.</p> <p>With testing, they discovered that the reason I was unable to speak was because I couldn't hear. I had so much fluid behind my eardrums that they didn't move. After draining the fluid, I was able to hear, and with vision testing, they found that I was completely blind in my right eye, and the left eye was nearly blind trying to make up for both. At two years old, I got my first pair of glasses. For a visual, picture Ralphie from A Christmas Story. I looked just like him.</p> <p>Even after these treatments, many felt I still would not be at the right level developmentally, and I had heard this many times. That was the beginning of the passion that led me to be better. I grew up in an extremely poor family in the government projects. For a family of six, my parents made less than $20,000 a year. When I was a teenager, my mom made the decision to return to college in order to get a better job, and while working a fulltime nightshift, my mom -- attending the community college, she was taking care of her family at home also.</p> <p>But all of this was too much for her brain to handle, and she had a mental breakdown and was admitted to an inpatient hospital. So at the age of 16, I was at home with my disabled father and two sisters, and I had to take over. I worked 2 jobs and 40 hours a week to try and help pay the bills while attending high school and managing to make honor roll every semester, as well as taking dual credit classes at the local community college. [Applause] You see, I didn't want to live this way my whole life. I was determined I was going to graduate from college. I graduated from high school and was accepted into nursing school the first semester of college.</p> <p>While working in a long-term care facility, I met a patient that taught me about compassion. Joy had psychiatric issues but was active and stubborn, and I got along well with her and was assigned to be her nurse one day after she had fallen multiple times. She had been seat belted to a wheelchair because of the falls, and her most recent fall resulted in her cutting her forehead open, and her sutures were five days overdue to be removed because she would not allow anyone to do it.</p> <p>After spending some time with a very agitated Joy, she agreed to allow me to do it if I bought her a Dr. Pepper. When the removal was complete, I brushed her hair and got her out of the wheelchair to take her for a walk to get that Dr. Pepper. And as we walked down the hall side by side, she reached over and grabbed my hand to say these words that have never left me, "You know, I like you. You're not like the others. You actually care."</p> <p>Now, you ask, what does this have to do with my journey to here? Joy taught me about compassion, and she reaffirmed why I became a nurse. Two years later, I was working as a contract nurse at a children's home when I met a young man named Jason. Jason has cerebral palsy and is practically nonverbal. My first interaction with him, he smiled and said, "I love you." A year later, I adopted him and brought him home to live with me at a single dad at 21 years old. [Applause]</p> <p>There is one thing that all of us have in common. No matter what your degree is or what your profession is, we all affect people. Whether it's fixing their computer, entering their payroll, teaching children, or fixing children, we all affect people in some way. The passion I have to better my life and the compassion I have to teach others and the passion I have for others helped when I finished my master's degree. I want to teach others to be those compassionate nurses.</p> <p>The same passion guided me through both my bachelor's and my master's degree at WGU, and this passion continues to lead me as a nurse caring for patients and educating nurses. Every day, I go to the coolest job, my dream job as a flight nurse, and I strap my helmet on and climb into a helicopter, and I take care of some of the sickest patients, and I have the ability to influence someone's life at the most critical time. I get to go to hospitals and EMS agencies and teach classes as an accredited provider of continuing education for paramedics and nurses.</p> <p>With invitations to speak at conferences and plenty of work, I don't have to live paycheck to paycheck anymore, and none of it would have been possible without the passion for improvement and because of WGU's program. With my master's degree from WGU, I am prepared for the future, and there are no limits on the possibilities.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)