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WGU Graduate Speaker, Christina Fernandez

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Christina Fernandez
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Commencement in Austin, Texas on October 12, 2019. Christina Fernandez earned her Bachelor of Science, IT - Databases Degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Christina Fernandez: Ooh, no pressure. Like most of you in the room today, my journey has been anything but ordinary. Like many others here, I took the long road to a college education. Perhaps some of you have had to approve yourselves. Perhaps you have been told things by people that you love and admire or even perfect strangers who don't know your strengths, that you can't, shouldn't, or won't. I've been told that I can't, I shouldn't, and I won't. But I'm here to tell you that I did, and I will. And so will you. So are you. So are we. </p> <p>After some time as a pastry chef, the hip issue I was born with became more pronounced and working in hot kitchens became too painful. I had to reassess what that meant for me and my family. I was working in customer service and found it to be the most soul sucking job. [Laughter] Food service and retail had nothing on those phone calls. I was on the phone with a "lovely" customer who called me a name that I actually had to Google, when I realized, I am so much better than this. I deserved more. </p> <p>I took the first step by transferring into a tech support role, but I knew finding a satisfying career would require a bachelor's degree. I began researching careers that would leave time for my amazing husband, and weird and wonderful children who are over there making noise. [Chuckles] I found data science, and data analysis. Then I researched colleges that would help me reach that goal. I found WGU and my life has never been the same. </p> <p>Like others in this room, I had to obtain some sort of IT certification to be admitted into WGU's IT College. So I studied hard, watched Professor Messer YouTube videos, and took the exams. I became A+ certified, which made me the first person on my team to obtain any IT certifications while also working full time. That was the easy part. Then the courses started. Some I progressed through very quickly. Thank you spreadsheets for the easy win there. And for one of the English composition courses, I quoted the CEO of the company I work for. He requested to read the completed paper and he responded with positive remarks and ended the email with, "Don't ever give up." </p> <p>It reminded me of when Dory said, "Just keep swimming" in Finding Nemo. His email is still in my inbox from 2017. Of course not all courses went as smoothly as those two. Ya'll know. Without the help of course instructors, most especially Joe Barnhart, and Maria [Shink?] and some fellow students, I probably would've imploded from stress and confusion. But I just kept swimming. </p> <p>I'd also joined a non profit organization, the Dallas Pinup Dolls, who work with organizations all over the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex volunteering in everything from making sandwiches for the homeless, to gathering school supplies for low income students, to raising money for animal adoption charities. The skills I acquired at WGU allowed me to become the secretary and treasurer, and eventually the VP. </p> <p>Meanwhile, working in tech support, I was moving up pretty quickly. After my last tech support promotion, my step dad passed away, and his passing hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. But I had to keep swimming. My new goal was to finish this degree and make my mama smile. She's probably over there crying happy tears right now. I had to keep swimming so my step dad would be proud from above. </p> <p>I started knocking out courses like Babe Ruth hit homeruns. Another term was complete. I was down to my last and most difficult term. It was at that time I emailed the manager of the business intelligence department at work to see how I could give myself an edge when I completed my degree. As it turns out, they had an opening, and he had me meet with him that afternoon. Let me tell you, this little girl was starry-eyed up there on that bright and shiny third floor. This was where the "smart people" worked. I was a nervous wreck, kind of like now. </p> <p>But I guess he saw something in me, because I interviewed with him and his team two more times. The third time I was not leaving anything to chance, and I pulled out all the stops. I brought in homemade chocolate chip cookies and Promised Land milk the real deal. I was that serious about this position and they were that serious about eating cookies. [Laughter] </p> <p>I started as a business intelligence analyst on February 25th, and became the first female on my tech support team to be promoted. And the first person, male or female to work their way up from customer service to a corporate level position. [Cheers and applause] On my first day my new boss jokingly told me to finish my degree or I'm fired. [Laughter] Just keep swimming indeed. </p> <p>Along this road I was told I was not qualified for the various positions I held. I was told I would never make it in this profession. But in the words of my clever punk rocker daughter, "Don't tell me what to do, I don't have to listen to you." [Laughter] When someone tells you that can't, shouldn't, or won't, prove them wrong. Don't argue with them, just show up and do it. Just keep swimming. When you're told there is no way, make a way. Just keep swimming. </p> <p>I leave you with these lyrics from one of my favorite bands, The Interrupters. "What's your plan for tomorrow, are you a leader, or will you follow?" I choose to keep swimming and lead; obviously following was never my style. [Applause] </p>
Western Governors University
© 2019 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)