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WGU Graduate Speaker, Nicole Ibarra-Vogel

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Nicole Ibarra-Vogel
Western Governors University
<p>September 15, 2018 WGU Regional Commencement at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C. Nicole Ibarra-Vogel earned her Bachelor of Arts, Special Education degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: And now we have the privilege of hearing from two graduates. They are Danielle Smith from Yonkers, New York, who is receiving her Bachelor of Science and Information Technology Management, as well as Nicole Ibarra Vogel from Ashburn, Virginia, who is receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Special Education. </p> <p>Nicole Ibarra Vogel: Good afternoon, graduates and guests. We've all had the debate with ourselves at one point or another throughout our lives. Some of us have struggled trying to answer it, others are still trying to figure it out, while some have never had a doubt about it. The questions are simple, easy to understand, yet can take a lifetime to answer. What's my dream job? What do I want to do with my life? How do I want to leave my imprint on this world? </p> <p>I struggled with these questions as I grew up, as many of you probably did too. A lawyer, a veterinarian, and a baker were only a few of the career choices I fiddled with as I went through grade school. But the one that just wouldn't go away was that I wanted to be a teacher. </p> <p>Many people have had similar responses to this realization. "Why would you want to be a teacher? They don't get paid very well. Those kids are bigger than you." [Chuckles] These, along with a variety of other questions and comments are things a lot of educators have heard before. But this career isn't about the money, it isn't about knowing we have a solid 9 to 5 job. It's not even that we get a "whole summer off" which we all know isn't true. </p> <p>I work in special education because I know I'm making a difference in a child's life. This career path is about knowing that the work I'm doing be it difficult or easy, is going to make a child's tomorrow better for them. </p> <p>When I relocated to Virginia from Florida over six years ago, I applied for my first employee position in a school system. I was a paraprofessional that worked with students to develop important life skills. Skills such as paper shredding, book sorting, dishwashing and mail sorting; everyday skills that would help my students live a life of their own. </p> <p>When I began the job, I knew I would never leave the field. I remember thinking to myself, "Yup, this is my passion, this is where I need to be." I'd been working in a variety of special education positions for over four years when I realized I wanted to do more for these students. I wanted to teach them. I wanted to help figure out which learning styles worked best for each specific student. Students who were my very own. But I couldn't do that with just an associate's degree. I needed to get a bachelor's degree. </p> <p>This is when I found out about WGU from a very good friend of mine. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, not by any definition of that word. After being out of school for several years, I struggled to get back into that mentality. But once I got the hang of it, I was gone. Hit the ground running became my mantra for the next two and a half years. With a full time job, a part time job, a two hour minimum daily commute, seven to eight courses per term for a year and a half, and up to seven practices and state tests in the span of two months, it was definitely a lot of work. </p> <p>I was tired. There were days I wanted to cry, or I just wanted to stop. Days when my anxiety had won. But I'm standing here in front of you with my fellow graduates to show you that hard work does pay off. [Applause] </p> <p>Sometimes you see the results of hard work immediately, like the immediate gratification you experience when you see the result of an assessment. Other times, you're surprised by those results because you forgotten you ever put work into it. </p> <p>As educators often do, I think about my former students. One student in particular sticks in my mind. When I think of her, I remember working tirelessly to help her study for an important social studies test. We worked together on this for several weeks. When her teacher returned the graded exam, she was ecstatic that she had passed with flying colors. She eventually graduated, left the school, and my life, but not my thoughts. </p> <p>Since then, I have often wondered how she was doing. I am happy to announce that she is thriving in the real world. She is working and enjoying her job, attending classes at a local college, and is an independent and thriving member of society. It warms my heart to know that years later, she remembers all the hard work and effort we put into her grades to ensure she was keeping up with the rest of her classmates. </p> <p>Because of the hard work that I put into my degree at WGU, I now have my own classroom where I know that I can help so many more students like her. I can be there to support them, help them learn, and allow them to thrive in ways I could never have imagined. I'm able to help my kindergarten class transition from being with their parents full time, to starting their educational journeys in school. </p> <p>As a teacher, we have long hours, take our work home early, and stay late. We often find ourselves asking: Is it worth it? The answer is absolutely. [Applause] </p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)