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WGU Graduate Speaker, Karyn Halverson

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Karyn Halverson
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Commencement in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 3, 2019. Karyn Halverson earned her Master of Education, Learning and Technology degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: And now, we have the privilege of hearing from two of our graduates. They are Karyn Halverson, Master of Education, Learning and Technology, who is joining us from Abu Dhabi. And Christopher Woods, Master of Science, Management and Leadership, from Indianapolis, Indiana. Please join me in welcoming first to the lectern, Karen. [Applause]</p> <p>Karyn Halverson: Good morning! You all look amazing. And I hope I represent all of you up here well done, and congratulations on today. I'm going to take a minute and take something from a military playbook of thanking your people first, so I don't get to the end and forget. I want to thank my parents, [Coreline, Lamont?] Espline. I want to thank my amazing spouse, Scott Halverson; my siblings, and my three children, Taylor, Joshua, and my angel, Ashley. I'm so grateful for your support and I wouldn't be here without you.</p> <p>When I was in the sixth grade, I wasn't very athletic. Truth be told, I'm still not. Much to my family's surprise, I entered a 20 mile walk a thon across the Nevada desert. I had no idea how long it would take me to walk 20 long miles in the southern Nevada heat.</p> <p>I started off strong. As some friends quit, or went ahead, or fell behind, I had to decide if I was going to keep going or catch a ride to the finish line. It just wasn't in me to quit.</p> <p>Whether it was to prove to my brothers that I could do it, or if I was just plain stubborn, I'm not sure, but I kept going. I had a trick. When I was really overwhelmed with the distance, I would count the telephone poles ahead of me and I would just say to myself, "Okay, just make it to the next three telephone poles." Then I would make it past those three poles. I would say, "Okay, make it to the next stop sign." And then, when I made it to the stop sign, I would again look for the next three telephone poles.</p> <p>Countless telephone poles and stop signs later, I made it. It felt like such an accomplishment. That course of action of facing things a bit at a time has been the key to how I face my life.</p> <p>When my husband was deployed with the military and I was home with three little kids, I didn't wish time away, but with the distance, fear, and the absence of a spouse, I again had to look for my telephone poles in the form of milestones, trips, accomplishments, and reunions.</p> <p>During our time apart, my husband and I set goals to give us telephone poles to count until we were together again as a family. During one of our year long military deployments, we set a goal to run a half marathon to celebrate the halfway mark when my spouse would come home for R&R. Our telephone poles became training, comparing notes, making plans, and then reuniting and accomplishing our goal. I don't know what it is with me and distances, but it seems to be something that challenges me.</p> <p>After years of being a stay at home mom, and a family volunteer for the U.S. military, I decided to go back into the education workforce. My telephone pole was getting hired. This was a slow process starting with substitute teaching, then a long term subbing job, and finally getting hired as a full time teacher after years away from the classroom.</p> <p>I then found my next pole and obtained a teacher librarian endorsement. I was breezing past those telephone poles, and meeting and exceeding my goals. Then, a little under two years ago, I lost my 23 year old daughter, Ashley, to an undiagnosed illness. I didn't know how I was going to face the first night, the first morning, the funeral, the loss. I really had to look for those next telephone poles.</p> <p>Those poles went something like this: Just get out of bed. Shower. Get dressed. Plan a funeral that will make her proud. Take care of my husband. Take care of my kids. Take care of my house. Go back to work. Make a new plan. Set a new goal. Plan a new project. Work on my faith. Remember to pray. And to look for God in the details. Each new day I made it past a few more poles. This doesn't mean that loss doesn't hurt every day, but looking ahead at those poles and knowing I would make it past a few more kept me going.</p> <p>Soon after this life changing event, my husband retired after 30 years in the military, and we were planning to move to a foreign country for his new job. I was still reeling from the loss of my daughter, and we once again were completely starting over. I needed a new goal. This is when WGU became my next telephone pole to keep me going. I needed something to improve my confidence, my job prospects, and honestly, something to give me deadlines and accountability.</p> <p>I felt that gaining new knowledge would help me give my footing back in a world that had completely changed for me. So at the age of 49, I set a new goal. A goal to get my master's degree before I turned 50. I started my first course with WGU. It was tough, and I wondered again if I could do it. Am I too old for this to take this on? Is this the right time in my life? Then one course at a time, one mentor call at a time, I made it through. I just kept looking ahead, one mentor call at a time, and I started counting those telephone poles.</p> <p>This year, with six weeks to spare before my 50th birthday, I completed my master's degree in learning and technology, and I've been hired to teach at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi, an international school in the UAE. [Applause] And if you haven't heard of Abu Dhabi, you probably have heard of Dubai, and we are the next big city close to Dubai.</p> <p>What's my point? Through achieving our degrees we have made it past and to the next telephone pole. Our life experiences that we have embraced, earned, and overcome, define us and have made us who we are. Our accomplished learning here at WGU has taught us that we can do anything we set our minds to, and we can go as far as we want to, one telephone pole at a time. Thank you and congratulations to my fellow graduates, well done. [Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
© 2019 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)