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WGU Graduate Speaker, Jeffrey Rahmlow, Summer 2014

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Jeffrey Rahmlow, Summer 2014
Western Governors University
<p>Jeffrey Rahmlow graduated with his network administration degree online from Western Governors University to better his life, break out of a dead-end job and make a future for his family of nine. He celebrated his success as a commencement speaker at the online, nonprofit, accredited university's 27th semiannual commencement in Salt Lake City on July 12, 2014.</p> <p>Jeffrey Rahmlow earned his Bachelor of Science, Information Technology - Network Administration degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>President Mendenhall, distinguished guests and mentors, friends, family, and especially you, my fellow graduates of Western Governors University, the fine institution we will all soon call our alma mater.</p> <p>Tell us your story. Those four short words remained anticipatingly on my computer screen for some time as I first prepared for this moment. And as tell us your story swirled in my mind, I began to recall that your story, my story, our story is exactly what has brought each of us here to the 2014 Summer Commencement of Western Governors University.</p> <p>Like many, my story begins with me doing what was expected right after high school, continuing my education at college, where I learned only that it was going to take a long time for me to get a degree that I didn't think I needed. And after two attempts at a traditional university, I eventually walked away with a handful of credits and just a bit of my pride still intact.</p> <p>My story picks up a few years later, where I was working in manufacturing. That was the phrase that I used to mask the embarrassment of knowing that I was not working at my full God-given potential. I was an unskilled laborer, who, for too many years, ran a saw. I took big, long pieces of metal, and I cut them into short little ones. Sometimes, I even got to run the shearer, basically a 10-foot long industrial scissors that I used to cut big metal rectangles into smaller metal rectangles.</p> <p>Now, don't get me wrong. Manufacturing is a respectable and rewarding profession for many people much more skilled than I, people like my father. I got to know my dad and his story during those years that I spent working in manufacturing, and I wouldn't be the man I am today if not for all that he has taught me. But after about 10 years, I soon realized I had only one story to write, 7 mouths to feed, and 0 opportunity, and that needed to change, and that's when I discovered the Western Governors University story.</p> <p>Our big family decided early on that this wasn't going to just be my Bachelor of Science in IT degree. Our family degree would require the cooperative efforts of two parents and all six children. A fancy piece of paper to hang in a frame on the wall was not an effective motivator when I needed quiet study time. So the motivating mantra in our home quickly became, "Now, kids, Daddy needs to study so we can take that airplane trip to Utah." [Applause]</p> <p>And I can assure you that few things in life will ever compare to the sight of my children as we strolled into the airport to finally board that plane to Salt Lake City. Wide eyes and awestruck grins told their story to the world last Wednesday. The untold story was the one that I heard at home for several years prior. "Are we ever going to get to go to Utah?"</p> <p>You see, when my mentor, Bill [Inaudible], and I first spoke, neither of us realized that my story would span more than five volumes unabridged. Fortunately, my version of "work at your own pace" gave me a unique opportunity to witness firsthand the power of our stories. I told everyone that I was going to Western Governors University, the biggest nonprofit, fully accredited online university that you've probably never heard of. I loved to tell WGU's story, but I soon began to realize that it was not just WGU's story. It is my story. It is your story. It's our story.</p> <p>I find great comfort in knowing that God is the author of my story. Even [Applause] -- thank you. Even when halfway through my degree program and shortly after the end of my first marriage, this single father, who is raising five children alone, is laid off from that working in manufacturing job that I despised, God continued to provide hope and strength not only through the exchange of stories but also through the characters that He had carefully written into my story. My loving parents, my friends and family, my mentor Bill, my new wife and our patient children all have played a consistent, encouraging role in my story.</p> <p>They've helped to keep me moving forward, to support my sometimes meager efforts, and to give me a kick in the rear when I needed it, but I'll never forget what Bill had said one day when I was particularly down. He said, "Jeff, you're never going to stop life from getting in the way of life, but when it does, Western Governors is going to be the most flexible part of our life because we want you to succeed. We don't succeed until you succeed." And it was then that I was determined that my story would also be a Western Governors University success story.</p> <p>May of 2013. After finishing a job interview, the interviewer and I walked along the hall, continuing the post-interview small talk. And as we reached the doors, he paused, looked at me, and out of the blue, very simply shared his story. "My wife graduated from WGU." His confident testimony hung awkwardly in the air for a moment, and then with great pride, he shared how WGU had allowed his wife to earn her teaching degree while he served our country in the Navy. He added, "I watched how hard my wife worked. So when you shared how Western Governors prepared you by making sure you were actually competent in what you knew, I knew exactly what you meant." And even though I had yet to finish my degree, I knew already that my story is a WGU success story, and by the way, I got the job. [Applause]</p> <p>Friends, family, and fellow graduates, my story is no more amazing or unique than any of the hundreds of success stories that will walk across this stage in Utah in just a few short minutes. We're not here because of 19 United States governors that had a vision of this 17 years ago. The stories written before us and the stories being written here today have brought us to this stage. We will leave here as WGU alumni and not just with a piece of paper to hang on the wall but with something much more valuable, a personal, unique version of our story, the WGU story that has the power to change the world around us. Our Western Governors University story, when told to the world, will spark the yet unwritten chapters of countless more Western Governors University success stories. So fellow graduates, tell us your story. Thank you.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)