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WGU Graduate Speaker, Erin Bishop, Summer 2017

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Erin Bishop, Summer 2017
Western Governors University
<p>WGU 2017 Summer Commencement Speaker Erin Bishop. Erin Bishop earned her Bachelor of Arts, Special Education (K-12) and Master of Education in Instructional Design degrees.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>WGU paved the way for me to live a life I never thought possible. WGU paved the way for my children to live a life far different from the life I experienced growing up. WGU paved the way and adequately preparing me for a career that I love. The home I grew up in was one that was plagued with addiction and poverty, trials and obstacles seemingly around every corner. My mom a single mother of four young children had out in the workforce other than that of her GED. Money was tight and bills were paid according to their importance. Our schooling was put on the back burner. As a child I had many extra responsibilities placed on me that centralized keeping our household afloat rather than being able to focus on my academics.</p> <p>As I grew older I lost myself and I developed an extremely low sense of self-esteem. At one point in high school I moved out of my house to escape the environment I was in. Working part time while trying to make ends meet and keeping my grades up was challenging to say the least. Crunching numbers I realized I could dropout, go to work full time and make more money to sustain my way of life. Not looking at the longevity of the situation, this is what I did, I dropped out. I dropped out until a life saver showed up, my teacher Mr. Jones. He refused to give up on me. He refused to let me repeat the cycle. Mr. Jones saw my true potential and didn't want me to continue on without seeing it myself. He encouraged me to get reregistered. He took it upon himself to work out a plan with the school counselor. Knowing my situation he also had the counselor discuss different options available to me to graduate a little early if I was willing to put forth the effort. Mr. Jones sent a clear message to me that day and that was that I was worth it.</p> <p>I wish this is where I could say I got my life back on track, but it's me, my life is all about trial and error. The second half of my senior year I found out that I was pregnant. What was I going to do? How was I going to do it? When I told Mr. Jones I fully expected a lecture of disappointed about my life choices, but there was none of that. He helped me figure out the rest of my schooling and he did it all without complaint.</p> <p>I was able to finish my senior year just a little ahead of my class and obtain a full-time job with been knits in order to pay for all my medical expenses. Following the birth of my son, I had a job, but I did not have a career. I was struggling and I knew that my son deserved better, yet college seemed so far out of the realm of possibility. Growing up I always admired people that obtained college degrees because to me that was something that seemed so rare. I had the perception that only certain types of people were able to successfully go to college and they weren't like me. They were better. They grew up in the most stable of homes. They were smart and intelligent. These were the people that had the resources readily available, everything that I didn't. I checked into it and quickly realized how demanding a college schedule was especially with a little child while working full time. It seemed impossible. One day I went back to Mr. Jones to visit him. I tier any told him about the guilty felt knowing the trials that I faced were self induced, yet they impacted the life of my child. I felt like a failure.</p> <p>As Mr. Jones sat there with me and my son, he reminded me of all the strength and resilience that I had. He reminded me of all I had already overcome. He looked at me and said something that clicked. Erin, you can do hard things. After a failed marriage and attempts at other colleges I heard about WGU. By this point I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a teacher. If it weren't for Mr. Jones I wouldn't have even graduated high school. I felt if I could at least be one child's someone, that could be my way of giving back. Sorry, I'm kind of getting choked up because Mr. Jones, this isn't part of my speech, he is still so humble and insists that he didn't do much, but 14 years later he's sitting here with his family in the audience. I wasn't going to cry. He's going to hear about that later.</p> <p> Earning my bachelor's degree in 2013 from WGU was one of the hardest yet most rewarding things I had ever done. Little did I know what I did for my master's. My grandparents helped me with my children. My exstepfather and his wife opened their hearts and home to me and my children while I was student teaching. Days were long. Nights were short. And break downs happened. I missed my children. I missed being a mom. I can't put into words how great it felt when I was offered my first teaching job before I even officially graduated. After being in the classroom for about a year I had this insane idea that maybe just maybe, I could go back and earn a master's degree. I mean, I earned my bachelors, right, master's is going to be that much harder. Yeah, I was wrong. It was harder, a lot harder. There were many late nights studying just to have the alarm clocking off four hours later. There was many times my mentor spent more time on the phone helping me, encouraging me. I can be kind of bratty. I can be kind of feisty and every time I had a moment, she handled it like a champ. Sometimes she even gave me some tough love, letting me know that I might have actually been wrong. Maybe it wasn't the evaluator's fault after all. Many times she would say, Erin, you can do this. You can do hard things just as Mr. Jones had so many years ago.</p> <p>Life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls. Often things don't go as planned. There probably isn't one graduate sitting in this audience that didn't experience a trial or hardship during their schooling process. Life can surprise you by bringing people into your life from the most unexpected plays at the most unexpected times. Graduates you are here because you branched out and allowed yourself to do hard things. Continue to shine and continue down the path of success. Feel proud.</p> <p>WGU, thank you for helping me through life's journey. Since graduating, I have been able to purchase my own home, different vehicles, take my children on multiple vacations where we get to create lasting memories together, and last but not least I was offered a district position as a behavior specialist. I will forever be grateful and indebted to my cheerleaders along the way. If it weren't for them I wouldn't be here and I want to be me. Congratulations to you all.</p> <p>[applause]</p>
Western Governors University
© 2017 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)