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WGU Graduate Speaker, Jennifer Knaack

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Jennifer Knaack
Western Governors University
<p>Saturday, February 9, 2019 WGU Commencement in Orlando, Florida. Jennifer Knaack was a graduate speaker at the WGU Master's Commencement. Jennifer Knaack earned a M.S. Nursing - Leadership and Management degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Scott Pulsipher: I would now like to introduce our graduate speakers. They are: Jennifer Knaack, Master of Science, Nursing Leadership and Management from Becker, Minnesota. And Junne Lim, Master of Business Administration from Kissimmee, Florida. Please join me in welcoming first to the lectern, Jennifer. [Applause] </p> <p>Jennifer Knaack: Welcome fellow graduates, faculty, family, and friends. I have the honor today of speaking to you about my journey toward earning my master's degree. </p> <p>My higher education journey started off great by earning my associate's degree in nursing through a community college in Minnesota. The plan was then to go back to school for a certified registered nurse anesthetist. I had this goal in mind and it was picture perfect. Nothing was going to get in my way... or so I thought. </p> <p>I had my first child during my and program, and then added one more child after that. I attempted taking general education courses through two different universities to achieve my goal. I even met with a dean for a nurse anesthetist program to ensure I was on the right track. </p> <p>I completed training to work in the ICU as a critical care nurse at the acute care facility I worked at. After realizing my passion for ICU, I planned to step down from leadership in the unit that I worked at. Bring in child number three. I struggled immensely in completing courses on time, and finding the motivation to continue on this path. The thought of finishing my end goal was exhausting, and I lost all motivation. I didn't want to complete assignments, I just wanted to snuggle with my three little children. I felt defeated, I felt like a failure, so I quit. Yes, I said it, I quit. </p> <p>I settled with the fact that the traditional path to a graduate degree would not work for me and my new family. I had had my last child in case you lost track, that's number four and was working in ambulatory care as a site manager. This is the point when I fell in love with leadership. To this day, I am very passionate about it. </p> <p>During this time, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to be a hockey player. She had never seen the inside of a hockey arena, let alone ice-skated. I will be honest, the first time watching her was rough. At the end of her first practice I prepared myself for tears, and the last time I would ever have to smell that horrific smell of hockey gear. None of that happened. She came off the exploding with joy. She was going to be a hockey player. I was shocked. My SUV would never smell the same. [Laughter] </p> <p>My second daughter started playing soccer, so now both of my daughters were playing sports. They struggled at times due to feeling like they were not good enough. When they doubted themselves, we talked about what was causing them to feel this way. Nine times out of ten, it was due to them being their own worst enemy. It was during one of our conversations that it struck me: I am my own worst enemy. I had found passion and love for leadership, why am I not pursuing a degree in it? If it means that much to me, why am I willing to give up on myself so quickly? </p> <p>I learned about WGU through one of my co workers who was a WGU student. I spoke to my family and decided that this was it. This was the university I was meant to attend. Four months later, I enrolled in my first course with WGU. Through multiple breakdowns, explanations of why I needed to complete an assignment to my children, and breaks to refill my WGU coffee mug, it happened. All of my courses were marked "complete." There is nothing more satisfying and fabulous than accomplishing the stuff that finally add up to a degree. It feels like winning the lottery except there is no check. And it didn't happen my chance. It happened because of the passion, grit, and dedication you find deep within yourself. </p> <p>All of us sitting here today happened because you believed in yourselves. You are here because when you were faced with challenges, you changed your perception and chose to persevere and not give up. When I finally finished my degree there was a celebration of ugly crying, jumping up and down with the kiddos, and texting my family the exciting news. I realized that I was no longer going to allow anyone to stand in my way, including myself. I was no longer going to be my own worst enemy. </p> <p>I have gained valuable insight and experience from my children, learning that there are never small successes. Every success is gigantic and deserves a celebration. I am extremely proud of what we all have accomplished, and I am proud to be a WGU alumni. To all my fellow night owls, congratulations. [Cheers and applause] </p>
Western Governors University
© 2019 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)