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WGU Graduate Speaker, Michael Updike

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Michael Updike
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Indiana graduate Michael Updike spoke at the WGU 2017 regional commencement in Indianapolis.</p> <p>Michael Updike earned his Bachelor of Science, Information Technology degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Michael Updike: Hi. My name's Michael and I'm an alcoholic. [Laughter] May 12th, 2010 is the day after I checked myself into Fairbanks Hospital for the second time. And it's the first day of my continuing sobriety. I'm one of those people you heard about, maybe you know someone like me. I could not make myself stop drinking, not for long periods anyway. </p> <p>It's something I had struggled with since right after high school. I had had the chance to go to a lovely, expensive liberal arts college where I flunked out very spectacularly. After, I had some jobs. I worked in warehouses, I waited tables. I knew that I didn't like doing those things really, so I decided I wanted to work with computers. I had a natural aptitude for it. </p> <p>I tried a local community college and I did not finish. I earned a couple of IT certifications somehow, and I managed to have something resembling a career in the field, a technician job here, and a consulting job there. But my drinking never really allowed me to advance much. By May 11th, 2010, I wasn't capable of almost anything anymore. The small business I had helped to start had never succeeded. I was in a state of complete and utter despair that is hard to describe. </p> <p>There's a saying amongst recovering alcoholics though, that the people in church don't want to go to hell, and the people in AA have been there, and don't want to go back. There is truth in that. So I went to Fairbanks Hospital to dry out, safely get through acute withdrawal symptoms, and then I went to live in a sobriety halfway house called The Progress House. </p> <p>I learned how to pray. And one day, after many months of working the 12 steps of AA, I found that a miracle had occurred: The desire to drink had left me. Since I still had a home [Applause] thank you. </p> <p>Since I still had a home to return to, I did. I thought about the opportunity to go to college that I had squandered in my youth, and I became determined that I would find a way to earn a degree. I found out about WGU on the Internet and I saw that it was fully accredited, so I made a leap of faith and took out federal loans and I got started. </p> <p>I managed to get a better job working as a help desk analyst, and that business I worked for went out of business. I had started dating since I got sober and my girlfriend, Kenna, worked for a little school called the Oaks Academy. I hadn't heard of it before, but she said they desperately needed IT help. So I got a part time job there and I got their antiquated technology working well in fairly short order. And soon, a few months I believe, I became their first full time Information Technology Director. [Applause] </p> <p>My girlfriend, Kenna, and I got married and we had two beautiful children, all the while I stayed sober. And at night, when everyone else was asleep, I worked on my WGU education. And I'm still the IT Director for the Oaks Academy. </p> <p>Since I began working there in 2011, our school has grown from one to three campuses, and we've gone from being the best kept secret in education to being highly regarded nationally. I'm proud that I had a role to play in that and I'm proud to continue to serve as their IT Director, now with a four year degree from WGU. </p> <p>My education at WGU helped me take their technology infrastructure to new heights of sophistication using inexpensive hardware and open source software. Our technology infrastructure is now second to none. And each year, I have the privilege of innovating, improving, and rethinking how our school can best leverage IT to further its mission to be a Christ centered school that exists to provide a rich, classical education to children of diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, preparing them to succeed in a rigorous secondary educational program, and to demonstrate spiritual, social, and emotional maturity. </p> <p>Thank you. I'm really proud to be a WGU night owl. [Applause] </p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)