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WGU Graduate Speaker, Danielle Smith

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Danielle Smith
Western Governors University
<p>September 15, 2018 WGU Regional Commencement at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C. Danielle Smith earned her Bachelor of Science, Business - Information Technology Management degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: And now we have the privilege of hearing from two graduates. They are Danielle Smith from Yonkers, New York, who is receiving her Bachelor of Science and Information Technology Management, as well as Nicole Ibarra Vogel from Ashburn, Virginia, who is receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Special Education. Please join me in welcoming first to the lectern, Danielle. [Applause] </p> <p>Danielle Smith: Prior to enrolling at WGU, I was on a quest to become a business analyst. I wanted a shiny title to go along with the work I was already performing at my current position. Far too long I pursued the position, submitting multiple applications, sitting through four interviews and sadly, I never received the promotion. I have to admit, I felt defeated. </p> <p>It was clear that despite having the work experience, lacking a bachelor's degree kept me from attaining this new position. How was I ever going to get there? I honestly felt like going back to school was nearly impossible. At this stage in my life, I was juggling so much from work, to managing the affairs of a disabled parent, to being a significant other, and most importantly, a mother to three children. </p> <p>The average age of WGU students is 37, many of which have families who require much of their time. I know I stand with many of you when I say the thought of going back to college brought about uncertainty, and uneasiness. But I am so fortunate to have a good friend, and work colleague, Marty Henderson, who calmed those fears. </p> <p>Marty is the reason I am here today. He referred me to WGU. I'm proud to say that Marty earned his second degree from WGU, a master's degree. And if it weren't for this hurricane, he would've walked earlier this morning. Other than being one of the best business consultants I know, he is one of my biggest supporters. </p> <p>In addition, my company, Anthem Blue Cross, places true value on a college education, provided me with tuition assistance. I have been at this company for over 11 years and I'm truly thankful to be part of a company that promotes a "one company, one team" mentality while making all efforts to help their employees reach their true potential. </p> <p>In life, we are aided in many different ways and mine is no better or worse than the next. It is what we do with those aids that is truly important. They must never be taken advantage of. </p> <p>As many of you know, WGU provides program mentors that are pivotal to our success. Cathy [Garington?]was my mentor and was wonderful, constantly reminding me to take a breath whenever I felt overwhelmed. I joked with Cathy, I promise to rest when I'm done. </p> <p>That has always been an attribute of mine that I'm proud of. I work hard to successfully accomplish my goals. Though I cannot take credit for all that I am I came from two hardworking parents, one of which who grew up in segregation in the mid 40s and early '50s in Warrington, North Carolina. A parent who spoke about having to sit on the back of the bus, going to a segregated elementary school, and had a separate entrance at the movie theater. </p> <p>I am grateful for my parents who instilled this hard work ethic. I cannot recall a day when my parents missed a day of work no matter how tired they were. I loved getting up with my father, watching him get ready. Every morning 5 a.m., he would trim his beard, put on his suit, carry his suitcase out the door by 6 a.m. He never missed a beat. And he never complained. </p> <p>Or my mother, every night, tired as she would be, leaving the house at 11:30 p.m. just to make it to her nightshift at midnight. I was always told I had to work twice as hard to get half as far. </p> <p>WGU allowed me the opportunity to put this work ethic to use. As an adult student I loved WGU's model which allowed me to advance at an accelerated pace. Ten months and four days. This is how long it took me to complete [applause] </p> <p>Ten months and four days. This is how long it took me to complete my degree at WGU. Some may be dismissive at how quickly I finished my degree thinking it came easy. But I smile and say, "10 4 4 5." Ten holidays passed while I was in college which is always a time for family to celebrate. I missed them all. Four hours I promised to my family each day. Four hours I'd dedicate to studying, and five hours' worth of sleep. All of this on top of working a demanding job. I know many of you can relate. I was on a mission to complete school and get my family back to equilibrium state. </p> <p>The path I took was riddled with exhaustion, tears, and self doubt. But it was necessary. I had to carve my own path just as all of you. I believe the sacrifices that we made, and the struggles we endured is what college is all about. Being a student at WGU I had to learn how to learn, how to be self sufficient, and how to produce only quality work. </p> <p>WGU taught me to understand my limits and to know how to know that to be successful, you must be prepared to fight through those challenges. I'll forever be determined to better educate, train, and develop myself for the future. We all come from different backgrounds, yet we're here as one. </p> <p>In life, happiness is not always guaranteed. There will be ups and far too many downs. But today, we stand proud with the understanding that one thing this life cannot take away from us is our knowledge. </p> <p>Throughout this experience I have come to learn success comes when opportunity meets preparation. I started at WGU September 2017 and earned my degree July 5th, 2018. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, 7:30 a.m., my family and I will embark on a new adventure as we relocate down to Georgia in pursuit of the shiny job title as a business analyst. [Applause] </p> <p>So if you ask me, "Will my degree at WGU help me attain the position I am looking for?" My response is simple, "Without a shadow of a doubt." [Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
© 2018 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)