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WGU Graduate Speaker, Christopher Dann, Winter 2013

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Christopher Dann, Winter 2013
Western Governors University
<p>Christopher Dann of Port Orange, Florida, tells the story of earning his B.S. in IT degree online at Western Governors University as a speaker at WGU's winter 2013 commencement ceremony at Atlanta's Philips Arena, Feb. 9, 2013. Chris is the father of three teenage boys, a busy football dad, and working IT professional who was finally able to earn his degree thanks to WGU's flexible competency-based learning model.</p> <p>Christopher Dann earned his Bachelor of Science, Information Technology degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far... [Laughter] sorry, wrong speech. Hey, I'm an IT graduate, I'm a geek! In all seriousness, around six years ago, was when my journey began. I had just landed a job with a major state university at one of their satellite offices as a computer specialist. Beyond finally finding a good job with benefits I had hoped that the opportunity would finally be there for me to attend college and get my IT degree.</p> <p>My hopes were soon dashed when I found out that all the IT programs that the university offered were at the main campus which was over an hour away, and that there were no online classes offered in my area of expertise. With work, my wife, and my three teenage boys involved in school, and in sports, it seemed very unlikely that I would ever have the opportunity to attend college.</p> <p>However, as time went on, I finally settled into my new job, an opportunity finally presented itself. Almost two years later, during my annual review with my manager, he brought up the idea of me attending school and getting my degree. I chuckled at the time because it reminded me of the age old question: What do you want to be when you grow up? And it harkened me back to when I had a discussion with my three sons when they were very, very little and asking them, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And my oldest son told me, of course, like any little boy, "I want to be a police officer." My youngest son said, "I want to be a fireman." And my middle son said, "I want to be a suspect." [Laughter]</p> <p>My manager and I talked at length about going back to school, and about the subject, and I expressed my concerns with him about attending school because of all the lack of time and my family. To my surprise I found out that my manager was attending WGU and was getting ready to graduate. Over the next couple of months we talked and continued to talk about me going back to school, and how great the program was.</p> <p>Reluctantly having had bad experience with another online university, I was a little reluctant at first. And with a little pressure from my wonderful wife I finally gave in and decided to at least give WGU a call. After speaking with one of the representatives, and gathering more information about their IT program, I could not contain my excitement. Here was a program that was not only affordable, and completely online, but was also competency based, regionally accredited, and worked around my schedule, and at my pace. And after over 16 years in the industry, not only would I have the opportunity to finally obtain my bachelor's degree, but by the time I finished I would have numerous IT certifications under my belt.</p> <p>Before I knew it, I was enrolled in school, and honestly it was a little tough at first to get back in the game. I began developing carpal tunnel syndrome, my eyes began to bug out from staring at the computer, and my hair started falling out. I'm kidding. [Laughter] In all seriousness though, I had to juggle work and life in general, making sure I set enough time aside to study, and get my homework done without neglecting my family. But surprisingly I found the transition to being a WGU student much easier than I had expected.</p> <p>The online interface with my classes was simple and intuitive. The study materials and instructive software were easy to access, and dive into, the online community, message boards, fellow students, faculty, and staff were friendly and helpful. And if I had any questions or concerns, someone at WGU with the answers, was a simple phone call away.</p> <p>Before long, with the loving confidence and support of my wife, kids, and family, and a great mentor. Nannette, if you're out there, you're awesome. The WGU faculty, staff, and a great manager and workplace to support me, I knocked out 25 competency units and obtained my first certification during my first term at WGU, and I was on my way to getting my degree.</p> <p>But that's not the end of the story. Almost two years into the program one of my greatest supporters, my father, suddenly passed away. It was tough, and although I struggled to stay on top of my schooling, with all the support for me from my family, and WGU, I pushed through, as he would've had me do. And I finished my degree, and now I stand here before you today.</p> <p>As I look back on my time at WGU, it has been an incredible journey and learning experience. Not only for me, but for my family. You see, I have three teenage sons, and as a teenager, you can't make an argument for not having enough time to complete an assignment or conjure up a good enough excuse as to why you didn't turn in your homework when your father, who is working 40 hours a week, running a football booster club, helping with school projects, run down a long list of honey do's while finishing his homework, and going to school full time. It's not happening, boys.</p> <p>In all honesty though, they have been my three biggest supporters whether it was boosting my confidence before a big exam the night before, or through their praise and congratulations when I passed. I can only pray that I've been a good example to them, and they see in me what one person can achieve with hard work, determination, and the support of family and friends.</p> <p>In closing I would like to say thank you to the staff and faculty at WGU for always being courteous, always being there, always being helpful, pointing me in the right direction whenever I had questions. To my mentor, Nannette Riggs, who was always supportive, offered great advice, gave me a confidence boost when I need it most, and was always, always just a phone call or email away.</p> <p>To my wife, Julie who is my rock, my support, and my biggest fan, I love you. To my sons, Caleb, Noah, and Jonah, for their love, support, and understanding, when I couldn't always be there. Remember... failure is not final until you quit. [Applause]</p> <p>To my mother in law, and my father in law, Pat and Dan, my sisters in law, Andrea and Christy, and all of the family, who I love so dearly, for supporting our family in any way they could during this long adventure. To my sister Sarah, and my brother in law Gabe, for their love, laughter, and support. And last, but definitely not least, to my mom, Sharon, who was by my side every waking moment as I fought cancer as a child, watched me struggle growing up as a teenager, loved me unconditionally, and who helped me become the man I am today. And to my father, Steve, this one's for you, Dad. This one's for you. Thank you.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)