You are here

WGU Graduate Speaker, Nicki Nelson, Winter 2013

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
WGU Graduate Speaker, Nicki Nelson, Winter 2013
Western Governors University
<p>Rochester Hill, Michigan, resident Nicki Nelson shared her story of losing her hope of a college degree after becoming a teen mom - and then realizing that dream years later thanks to WGU at the February 2013 commencement in Atlanta's Philips Arena.</p> <p>Nicki Nelson earned her Bachelor of Science, Human Resource Management degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>I had very ambitious expectations for myself as a child and teenager. I was not interested in the traditional girly things like getting married or having babies. All I ever wanted to be was a doctor. I carried good grades through school, and had great expectations for my life. When I was 16 I became pregnant. My family was shocked and devastated. I was the child with the life's ambition, how could this happen?</p> <p>I had to drop out of high school because of medical problems during my pregnancy. I received my GED instead of my high school diploma. When all my friends and classmates went off to college, I was potty training my son. Then came the big question: What do I do now? How do I support myself and my child? All I had ever thought of being was a doctor. I had no back up plan for my future and medical school was not an option with a toddler.</p> <p>I was a perfect example of a non traditional student. As I floated through my 20s, I waited tables and running a cash register at the local grocery store. I realized I still wanted a job, but I wanted a career more than a job. I knew without an education I could never realize this dream. Employers' requirements had increased, gone were the days where you secure long term employment with a high school education. I knew I wanted a career that meant something, but I just did not know what I wanted a career in, and I sure didn't know how to get the education I needed.</p> <p>I figured I would start working with something I was good at: Math. After receiving a diploma in accounting from a local business college I fell into a role at a long term care facility. This role included payroll and personnel. I really liked the personnel side of this job. I was good at benefits and employment law. I decided I wanted to be in human resources.</p> <p>Wanting more in this career I moved to a human resource assistant position with a local factory, a meat packing plant with 1200 employees. Wow, talk about human resource training at its best. I thought I had really seen all human resource had to offer by working at that plant. I was wrong. No day is ever the same. Regardless where you work, there's always something new.</p> <p>Human resources fulfilled my excessive need for knowledge and excitement. No situation was ever the same. There was always something new to learn. Everything I had been through in my life gave me guidance to assist the employees with issues that interfered with their work lives. My kids would joke by saying they were going to hang a sign above my office that read, "Dr. Phil's Assistant."</p> <p>As I progressed in my career into management, I found it was getting hard to move up that ladder that I wanted to conquer. It was getting hard to secure a position and back up my knowledge without a degree. I dreaded that interview question that I knew was coming: What education have you received in your field? I knew I needed my degree if I ever wanted to go any further.</p> <p>I guess I did want marriage and children after all, because I was married, and at that time I had three teenagers of my own, and two step children. With my kids schedule the only time I had for my own education was late at night, and sometimes on weekends. I kept asking myself, "When will I have time to go to school?" I wasn't getting any younger. It was now or never if I wanted an education. I did not have time to dedicate to a full time school schedule and attending part time, it would take me ten years to get an education I needed.</p> <p>The only option I thought I had for education was a community college, and the curriculum was just not what I wanted. Then I found WGU. I was amazed at the work at your own pace concept. I didn't think it existed in higher education. Through my discussions with an admission counselor I learned that I would be able to move quickly through material I already knew. I wouldn't be stuck in a lecture hall with 100 other students, limited to 12 semester hours or taking time away from my family and work.</p> <p>I could do all the things I currently did and get my degree. Was that really possible? I was sure gonna find out. I enrolled in the bachelors of science and human resource management program. After surviving my husband deploying to Iraq several times, one son deploying to Iraq, several kids graduating high school, relocating to another state away from my family, and becoming a grandmother, here I am.</p> <p>My mother always told me, "God only gives you what you can handle." There are times I questioned that statement, but now I know she was right. Without my life experiences, I could not be the person I am today. I stand before you, WGU faculty, fellow graduates, and family, my husband, my mother, my children, and the rest of my family watching at home. For the first time in my life I'm in a cap and gown. Man, it feels great. [Applause] I think I looked at my passing capstone a hundred times. If I could still look at it now, I would. I just wanted to be sure I completed that program.</p> <p>I am a college graduate with a bachelor's of science in human resource management. I actually did it without sacrificing time with my family or income from leaving a job to go to school. WGU gave me the tools to succeed in my education. I now have a great career at Global Titanium in Detroit as a human resource manager and I love it. [Applause]</p> <p>I have the education to take me where I want to go in my career, so why stop now? I reenrolled in the MBA program at WGU. [Applause] I could not be here without my mentor, Andrea Johnson. She was there for me when I didn't think I would ever get that task completed. When I said, "I can't," she was always ready to say, "Yes, you can, and you will." When I was ready to hang it up, she was right there saying, "No way." When I became frustrated with school or life, she would say, "It's okay to be frustrated, let's try to get through this together."</p> <p>I give a special thank you to my husband, who never questioned my abilities. And my kids, who supported my education journey, even though they ate Hamburger Helper a lot. To my mother, although you gave me lots of traits I complain of a lot thanks for giving me the good ones like ambition and willpower to get me through anything life hands me.</p> <p>WGU is truly a unique and fulfilling education experience. It has been one of my greatest achievements in life to be on this stage in this cap and gown. I am proud to say I am a WGU graduate. Without a school like WGU, I could not have reached my educational goals. Thank you WGU.</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)