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WGU Graduate Speaker, Lori Williamson, Summer 2014

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Lori Williamson, Summer 2014
Western Governors University
<p>Lori Williamson earned her Master of Arts in Teaching, Elementary Education degree. On July 14, 2007 Williamson was a graduate speaker at the Summer 2007 WGU Commencement. This WGU Commencement took place at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Lori Williamson: Welcome everybody, and a particular welcome to those watching online, those of us who could not be with us today. This is not my first experience with a WGU commencement. I actually watched two of them as I was trying to finish the program for encouragement. And if there are any of you out there watching who are in that position, look at all of us here as a promise that through perseverance, you, too can accomplish your goal.</p> <p>We've all been brought here today by different paths that began with imagination and believe that our dreams can come true. And sometimes you just have to have a different dream than the one you started out with.</p> <p>The day that I signed up for the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at WGU was the day that my husband and I decided that our struggle to try to have a second child was going to be over. And this was not our first experience with this. We had been through it before, and fortunately have a beautiful son who's celebrating his seventh birthday today. But I knew that without a second child coming, and having a four-year-old, that it would soon be time to say goodbye to precious preschool moments and hello to new beginnings.</p> <p>So I always thought teaching would be something I would be good at, and I knew I wanted to be there to watch every moment of my son growing up as well, so it was very important for me to find a program that allowed me to be with him as much as I could. I loved the idea of a competency-based program, and as I searched -- found Western Governors University, that really made the most sense for me so that I could be the kind of mother I wanted to be while he was still there, but also be on my path to a new dream.</p> <p>Of course, you do have to have a little competency to be in that kind of program. And my undergraduate was in a bachelor of science in hotel administration, which is a far cry from elementary education. And in the beginning I thought, "Well, you know, I'll get a new laptop and I'll hang out at Starbuck's and be on the internet. How hard could it be?" [Laughter] But I was really wrong about that. And I was astounded at the depth of the Western Governors University program.</p> <p>When I did my demonstration teaching, there was another student from a different online program also doing their student teaching, and that student had to be observed twice by somebody who was completely unaffiliated with the elementary school, who did not have any ownership in that school, would just come and watch and leave. When I shared with her that I was being supervised by the principal of the school, that I had to be observed eight times, and that I had to meet with her before and after every observation for a total of 16 meetings, she was blown away, and the teachers there were amazed at that. And when I even share that with fellow teachers now, they are just so amazed at what we were expected to do.</p> <p>So I thank WGU for allowing me to walk onto one of the most elite campuses in my city, Memphis, Tennessee, and have it look like I knew exactly what I was doing. [Laughter] They were surprised at classroom management skills and at instructional theories. They asked me for advice. They were just amazed, and they were really surprised that I was a brand new teacher.</p> <p>When you struggle with fertility and being able to have your own child, you realize that each child is an amazing gift, and that just brings it home to you. And I remember a child during student teaching who was struggling. He was a little first-grader. And I looked at him and I said, "You are a smart boy." And he looked at me and he said, "But, Mrs. Williamson, I wasn't smart until you came." And for that moment, he believed in himself because somebody else believed in him. So WGU has helped me to realize my new dream of working with children. And I get to spend my day making small difference to them, and they, in turn, make a mighty difference for me.</p> <p>I recently had the opportunity to visit the summer homes of Ford and Edison. Edison was several years Ford's mentor, and when Ford shared his idea of wanting to create a gas engine, Edison was the one who encouraged him and told him to go for it and helped him. So I'd like to say thank you to all of our mentors who have encouraged us, especially Jennifer Jackson. As you have seen that power in your lives, never forget that you have that power in other people's lives. So whether you're going to continue on in education or business or IT or the health professions, use your gifts and talents to encourage others, even for what might seem to you the smallest moment. You will never know how much you encourage someone else.</p> <p>On that note, I'd like to thank those people who encouraged me. I don't think I saw the inside of a grocery store for about two-and-a-half years. My husband and son got very good and doing that routine and cooking and a tremendous support. And I'm just amazed that I have about 25 family members who've traveled here from five different states to celebrate with me today. And so thank you to them. So today is a day to remember where we've been, celebrate where we are, and then imagine, dream, and believe in the hope for tomorrow. God bless you.</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)