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WGU Graduate Speaker, Matthew Brimer

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Matthew Brimer
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Graduate Matthew Brimer spoke at the WGU Bachelor's Commencement in Austin, Texas. Matthew Brimer earned his Bachelor of Science, Information Technology - Security degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Dr. Steven E. Johnson: And now we have the privilege of hearing from two graduates, two amongst you. They are Matthew Brimer, Bachelor of Science in IT Security. And Taylor Crow, Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. [Cheers] </p> <p>Following their speeches, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Marni Baker Stein will confer your degrees. Please join me welcoming first to the lectern, Matthew. [Applause] </p> <p>Matthew Brimer: Thank you faculty, staff, fellow graduates, course mentors, student mentors, to those that studied and worked on assignments into the early hours of the morning, to the wives, husbands, partners, children, various family members and anyone else I may have missed to help us get to this stage today. </p> <p>To all the military veterans, and to all of my Army brothers and sisters, Whoop! And finally, to all the precious moments some of us may have missed so we could work towards our dreams, we say thank you. And I say "we" because they say it takes a village to raise a child. And apparently to help a grown one graduate too. </p> <p>Everyone in this room has a story of how they got here today. I'm humbled to be able to share mine. I'm a disabled Army veteran. I joined the Army towards the end of my junior year of high school. I spent six years in the U.S. Army until I was injured and couldn't be a soldier anymore. </p> <p>With my body used up, I decided I needed to start working with my mind instead. I was lucky enough to get a job at the Department of Defense where I became a lead database administrator and information security specialist. After eight years I parlayed these skill sets into a security and database manager position at a pharmacy services company. </p> <p>Now, up until this point, I had prided myself for getting as far as I had without a degree. Fast forward a few years later, and the Director of IT position, what I had viewed as my dream job, becomes available. I applied for this position, and I made it to the final two candidates. It was between me and another gentleman outside the company. </p> <p>We were told that we would be graded on our interviews, and whoever had the highest interview score would receive the job. I went to through the interview process, and I felt really good about how well I'd done. About two weeks later I was called into the COO's office and I was asked to sit down. He went on to explain to me that even though I scored higher than the other person on every other category, I scored a 0 on education because I didn't have a degree. Therefore, it wiped out all of my other scores. </p> <p>I was crushed, angry, and a little bit embarrassed. And the first time in my career, not having a degree was holding me back. Now I will admit that the reason I came to WGU was strictly out of sheer anger and spite. And I'll also admit that at 32 years old, with a wife, a daughter, and another daughter on the way, I was terrified of going back to school. </p> <p>A few months after getting rejected, I started my first semester at WGU. And then something happened that I didn't expect. I found my passion for learning again. I finished one class, and then another, and then all of the sudden my first semester was over. And as I looked at the little donut chart showing me how much progress I had made towards my degree [laughter] and I realized I was closer than ever I was before. </p> <p>However, after about a year or so into my WGU journey, I received a job offer for what I would soon learn was my actual dream job. But, this job didn't care if I had a degree or not. The clients I would soon be working with, with Ivy League degrees, advanced degrees, and at major companies in Silicon Valley, they didn't care if I had a degree. </p> <p>So I came to a crossroads. Should I continue my journey with WGU or should I drop out? After talking to my wife, and my mentor at the time, Bob Curtis, I realized that while I no longer needed the degree for my current career path, I wanted the degree. [Applause] </p> <p>I came this far, and thinking to myself as a father and a husband, I realized that my family sacrificed just as much, if not more, to get me to this point. I decided I had to finish. Not just for them, but for me. I need to earn this for me. And here we are. [Applause] </p> <p>Because I decided to finish what I started, and the superb knowledge that I gained at WGU, I was able to help start the security decision of my company. I was able to consult with clients and speak at conferences for the Air Force and the FBI. I'm also proud to say that I'm now pursuing my masters degree in cyber security at WGU. [Applause] </p> <p>The last thing I want to say is, as you leave here today and go forth with your lives and your careers, I can remember applying for jobs while I was still working towards my bachelors degree, and sitting in interviews across from those with "traditional" degrees. And they were remarking, "Well, you're going to a non traditional college." When you hear those words I want you to smile and say, "You are correct, I am non traditional." We no longer live in traditional times and I'm well prepared. Thank you. [Applause] </p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)