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WGU Graduate Speaker, Michael Varno, Summer 2010

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Michael Varno, Summer 2010
Western Governors University
<p>Michael Varno of Georgia, earned his bachelor's degree in Information Technology online at Western Governors University, and spoke at WGU's July 2010 commencement ceremony in Salt Lake City. He shared his story of accelerating his online IT degree program while working full time.</p> <p>Michael Varno earned his Bachelor of Science, Information Technology degree. </p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>I would like to open my speech by quoting the late Groucho Marx. "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into other room and read a book." This quote can present itself in numerous ways, but to my fellow graduates and me, today, it explains our opportunistic drive to succeed beyond the ordinary. Oftentimes when a television set was turned on at night, we had to retreat to our studies, and in the case of Groucho, this was obviously very educating. </p> <p>Personally, the biggest challenge of my WGU career was maintaining a successful career while accelerating my education. At times, I felt that being a full time student at WGU and a full time employee was impossible. But my mentor, Jose, gave me the confidence to succeed while teaching me how to successfully balance the multiple endeavors that come with life. </p> <p>He was always there to answer my questions regardless of the hour. In fact, I actually educated my mentor. Because of me, he learned the importance of adding the caller ID feature to his phone. [Laughter] ]But because of Jose, I was able to set realistic goals that with hard work, were well within reach. The innovative approach that WGU exhibits allows us to achieve the required competencies at our own pace. Depending on our drive, this can be a good or bad thing. Unfortunately, my experience falls within both categories. </p> <p>A good example I experienced was that I was able to complete 96 competency units within 8 months. [Applause] This is an achievement I am very proud of. I was only able to accomplish this by learning how to prioritize my schedule and set realistic and achievable goals. WGU has taught me how to better hone this attribute which has improved my professional skills in the workplace. </p> <p>A bad, or rather less than optimal example, was when I revised a Task Stream assignment during a movie at a theater on my phone. [Laughter] Now the reason it was less than optimal, and not bad is because it was a movie I was not particularly inclined to see. You know, the stereotypical franchise that has vampires glistening in the sunlight. The name as escaped me the moment, but... Anyway, by the time the credits were displayed, I had just submitted my revision for grading. Needless to say, after that adventure, I can now text with the best of them.</p> <p>These two appearances are firm examples of how WGU not only helped us, but also provided us with unique ways of achieving our goals. I personally cannot think of any other school that provides this much flexibility to ensure that their students will succeed. Participating in online education has taken tremendous strides for the better. However, before WGU, they lacked the ability to identify competencies that a prospective student may possess. To me, each online education that I researched touted their excellent curriculum and frugal pricing. But it all seemed like marketing. I did not have the feeling that my past 11 years within the IT industry would be accounted for. Then I came across WGU.</p> <p>Their slogan is simple: Online, accelerated, affordable, and accredited. Not only is this approach easy to understand, to me it states "Use your knowledge to fortify an accelerated education." And it has. WGU has given me a new sense of direction in life while I am enthralled to better myself not only academically, but in anything that I do. This is quite infectious, and I would not have gained this attribute through a typical school.</p> <p>I have a very hectic work schedule where I'll often find myself traveling. I cannot fathom accelerating at the pace WGU allowed me to at any other school. Since my graduation at WGU, I have been promoted from an IT Technical Advisor, to an IT Operations Manager. [Applause] Just think, if I had gone through a traditional university, I would not have had this opportunity until years down the road.</p> <p>But do you know what really impressed my employers? The way I was able to succeed with my professional and collegiate career in parallel. They told me that my achievements displayed the qualities of a true leader. And as I gaze out at this graduating class, that is exactly what I see. A group of college graduates that not only have the skills to deliver today, but the skills to deliver that we can ensure - I'm sorry - that we can - oh! I almost had the finishing down good, sorry. But the skills to ensure that we can deliver tomorrow. Thank you.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)