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WGU Graduate Speaker, Lisa Santiago, Summer 2008

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Lisa Santiago, Summer 2008
Western Governors University
<p>The trip to Salt Lake City from New York was exhausting, but the journey Lisa Santiago experienced to get to graduation would be one she will never forget. Lisa was traveling to Salt Lake City for WGU's summer graduation ceremony for which she had been chosen to be a graduate speaker. She delivered her speech to 100 other graduates in her primary language, American Sign Language (ASL).</p> <p>Lisa was born and raised in New York and attended a special school for deaf students until the sixth grade. She was mainstreamed into the public school system and learned the importance of having specialized teachers for hearing impaired students. This experience stayed with Lisa through most of college, until she found WGU. "I had become frustrated by the lack of support services at other universities, such as professors not being able to meet to clarify concepts, assignments, ideas and tasks," Lisa says. "However, I was determined to earn my degree and decided to look on the internet for an online college or university." </p> <p>Lisa has worked as a teacher's aide in a school for the deaf for over ten years. Now, having earned her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies degree, Lisa can now have her own classroom.</p> <p>"Even though I am deaf, I am very proud of myself because I have proven that I am capable of earning a very challenging degree just like people who can hear," said Lisa.</p> <p>Santiago earned her Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>[Sign Language - narrator speaking] </p> <p>Good morning, WGU faculty, students, friends, and family. It is a great honor to be invited as a presenter at this celebration. Western Governors University was one of the greatest experiences in my life. </p> <p>Getting my bachelor's degree was a great challenge for me, as I'm sure for you. The added challenge, being deaf. American Sign Language is my first language and I had to learn to adapt to the online environment without having the advantage of picking up the phone to call my mentor or being able to hear the teleconference sessions. This was a challenge for me as a student, but WGU taught me how to be an independent learner. I had to learn how to plan my time, use resources in order to achieve my goal. My mentor, Leslie Rose, worked with me, answered many of my questions about tasks and assignments that I did not understand. She was extremely patient with me when I was frustrated with my studies. </p> <p>WGU was very different from my other college experience. Before attending WGU, I faced the frustrations of lack of services at other universities, professors not working with me to clarify concepts and ideas. There were also times that the note-taker or interpreter would not show up when I needed assistance with course work or assignments and tests. After facing this, I decided that I was not going to give up on getting my degree and I was going to try a new approach. I looked online and found WGU, decided to try and see if I could make it in an online environment. </p> <p>I researched WGU further, researched its programs and accreditations. I knew I had the goal to be a teacher of deaf students. I wanted to serve and give back to the deaf students and act as a role model and was happy when WGU accepted me into the teacher licensure program. </p> <p>Upon telling my friends and family that I was going to attend WGU, which was an online university, they responded in shock and warned me that it would be hard. I told them not to worry and that I would be fine and was going to take on the challenge because it was worth the risk if I wanted to become a teacher. Regardless of being deaf, I knew I could learn and succeed if I was given the right program to do so. With the right support system, I could do it.</p> <p>Two things that would help me learn everything I needed to know in order to be an effective teacher. I started September first of 2005. That's a day I'll never forget. I was excited, but at the same time anxious. It was a new experience for me. I didn't want to face the same struggles I had at previous universities, become frustrated, discouraged at the lack of support. Initially, I informed the mentor that I worked with and students that I am deaf and use American Sign Language. I felt it was important to know who I am and to be aware of the unique challenges that I face being deaf. </p> <p>WGU made it possible for me to become successful. It offered me the support that I needed in times of confusion over an assignment, a project, assessments, anything related to my education. The WGU staff worked with me, was extremely friendly and helpful. I appreciate what they did for me, the support and encouragement and feedback they offered me. E-mail and instant messaging was the best way for me to communicate with faculty and students. It would've been nice to have a face-to-face environment as well. My mentor was an amazing person. We worked closely together without even seeing each other. Leslie Rose was understanding and patient with me any time I struggled with any concept, she would sacrifice her time to explain it to me in each area needed, each area of studies, and offering tips to help me navigate through the way. If she was unavailable, then Sarah [inaudible] would help me as well.</p> <p>The WGU assignments were difficult, they were challenging. But I made it through with a lot of support from my mentors, from my friends, other student, and my family. The assignments helped me to achieve better literacy and the pre-assessments, oh man, [Laughter] they were tough. I had to study non-stop. So many questions. I had to take the practice tests several times. Being an online student worked well while working full-time. It was difficult, but I learned to survive and to know that I could reach my dream. </p> <p>Every day I would spend five to six hours completing assignments and many days I would spend more than that. I am here. I finally made it. I'm getting my degree. I've waited such a long time. Being deaf and accomplishing this makes me very proud. To show that I am capable of achieving this challenging degree on par with those students who can hear.</p> <p>I've learned so much from WGU. The university brought challenges for me to face, fears to overcome to show that I could work through my disability. I'd like to thank the WGU administration, staff, faculty, and my mentors for their support; making sure that I felt welcome and that I could accomplish my goal of getting a degree in education. Students, I say congratulations.</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)