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WGU Graduate Speaker, Dallan Jones, Winter 2011

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Dallan Jones, Winter 2011
Western Governors University
<p>Dallan Jones, from Salt Lake City, Utah, was a student speaker at WGU's 2011 Winter Commencement. </p> <p>Dallan Jones earned his Bachelor of Science, Information Technology degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>You'll have to excuse the tassel. Greetings to all my fellow graduates, their families, the faculty of WGU, prospective and current students. I want to begin my time up here by thanking the faculty and administration of this wonderful school for the incredible program that they have developed. I thank you all greatly for giving us this opportunity to reap the benefits of higher education, and for giving us the ability to gather here and celebrate our accomplishments.</p> <p>All through my life, my parents instilled in me that education is the single most important aspect of life. My parents, both being Salt Lake City Police officers, always discouraged me from following in their footsteps. [Applause] "We never want you to experience what we see every day. Education is the key to that big corner office job." This mentality followed me into the beginning of my educational years. They enrolled me in Montessori-style schooling for kindergarten, continuing through age ten. This type of schooling is hands-on, team-oriented, and encourages students to explore beyond standardized curriculum.</p> <p>Moving forward to the high school years, I was enrolled in a private high school here in the Salt Lake Valley. Being an 11-year-old in high school is a bittersweet experience. The graduation requirements for this school were not typical, as students were required to pass the GED diagnostic exam with a college freshman level, as well as completing and defending a thesis. </p> <p>After my third year at the school, I decided it was time to move forward to higher education. I scheduled my exam and was given a full summer to compose my thesis. I'll tell you what, being a 14-year-old stuck inside all day during summer was painful. Nevertheless, the hard work paid off. After passing my exams and composing a thesis with a final page count of 160, I was finished with high school, although the joy I felt was fleeting because I knew that it was about time to hit the college books.</p> <p>It quickly became apparent to me that the college admissions process was long, difficult, and sometimes cold. I was told by many a local university that they had no idea how to handle a 14-year-old in a college atmosphere. After being told this by every local university in the valley, I didn't know where to go.</p> <p>During the time of searching, I earned my Eagle Scout award. I was in the midst of planning my Court of Honor ceremony when my mother looked at me and said, "Why don't we invite John Huntsman to come present you with your Eagle award?" John Huntsman was the current governor of Utah, and I thought to myself, "I'm sure he had much better things to do with his time." Much to my surprise, about a week after my mom sent the letter, Governor Huntsman's secretary called us asking for more details. Long story short, Governor Huntsman showed up and presented my medal to me.</p> <p>After the ceremony, I pulled him aside and asked for some simple advice. I asked him, "Where do I go from here?" His answer came to him quickly. He said to me, "Have you ever heard of Western Governors University?" [Laughter] This is truly when my WGU story began. He said as long as I can pass the entrance exam and demonstrate that I can be disciplined and ready for higher education, there's no reason WGU would not accept a 14-year-old kid. Therefore, I heeded the advice and applied. The guidance that WGU provided during this process was incredible, and never once felt cold.</p> <p>Before starting WGU, I didn't know a microchip from a motherboard. It was intimidating going into an IT program not knowing anything about computers, but I knew that's what school is for; learning something that you've never learned before. And the passion for learning the newest technological advancement is what motivated me to continue.</p> <p>I remember the first time logging into the student portal. Looking at the AAP was terrifying, but also encouraging. I remember getting set up with the Education Without Boundaries course and thinking to myself, "This is really happening. I'll never forget the first call I had with my wonderful mentor, Cheryl Bagshaw. She called me one morning and we exchanged greetings, followed by a pause. The pause was then filled with Cheryl saying, "Are you really 14?" [Laughter] Cheryl was the key to everything I accomplished at WGU. She was always by her phone or her email inbox ready to assist her students. I am so grateful for her and the opportunity to have her as my mentor. She was there for us, and we built a friendship that will last further than WGU. I truly could not have done this without her.</p> <p>I remember the late nights with my friends all huddled around a table at a local coffee shop studying and trading ideas. The WGU schedule was instrumental in allowing me to maintain a social life, a working life, and a school life. The assessments were tough, the material was thorough, and the resources were in depth. I know the education I received here at WGU is rock solid. The school is producing incredibly competent graduates that will be successful in whatever they do.</p> <p>At age 15, I began my working career as a sales associate at CompUSA. I am now 19 years old, and because of WGU, I am a full-time systems administrator, and have started my own IT consulting business. [Applause] Thank you.</p> <p>My family and friends were incredible motivators and supporters. I thank them for putting up with my frustrations and turmoil, and then being there to celebrate the victories. I thank my mom for making the connection with Mr. Huntsman, and for her steadfast support during these trials. I thank my fellow graduates for being there to encourage and motivate. Never once did I feel we were in competition with each other.</p> <p>To all the graduates, I commend you. A WGU graduate can be held to a standard of excellence, professionalism, and well-rounded discipline. Your work and strength during this journey cannot be matched, and education is something nobody can take away from you. And I am confident that every one of you will achieve greatness and success in life.</p> <p>I think of life as less of a straight line and more of a spiral always spinning into a new direction. Recording artist Maynard James Keenan said it best: "Ride the spiral to the end. You may just go where no one's been." Thank you.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)