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WGU Graduate Speaker, Patricia Knight, Summer 2014

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Patricia Knight, Summer 2014
Western Governors University
<p>Patricia "Bliss" Knight grew up in a one-room log cabin, doing homework by kerosene lantern and dreaming of being an airline pilot in a day when girls were not encouraged to dream such dreams. More than 50 years after high school, Bliss is now an MBA, thanks to Western Governors University's online MBA program. She runs a nonprofit that she started as part of her capstone project, and she teaches flying lessons on her remote ranch in Arizona. Bliss shared her story as a speaker at WGU's 27th semiannual commencement ceremony July 12, 2014, in Salt Lake City.</p> <p>Patricia Knight earned her Master of Business Administration, Management and Strategy degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>My name is Patricia Bliss Knight. Some of you know me as Patty. It's lovely to be here today graduating with all of you. I have a story to share about the value of online education. When I was a young girl growing up in Alaska, there was no television. So I read during the many hours of darkness about far-off places in books like Gunga Din, Marco Polo, and Bomba: The Jungle Boy. I found that I yearned to see the world, how other people lived. I looked out windows at the clouds and the sky and daydreamed of the independence and freedom learning to fly would offer.</p> <p>So at the tender age of nine, I decided that I would become an international airline pilot. Pursing this goal gave my life direction and purpose. Living in a one-room log cabin without the amenities of running water or indoor plumbing, we bathed once a week in a galvanized tub all in the same water. This was embarrassing for a pubescent girl. We had light from a single bulb when the generator would start, but when it wouldn't, I did my homework by kerosene lantern.</p> <p>Attending a one-room territorial school, I listened carefully to what the older children were learning. I found I also wanted horses in numbers. Black Beauty was among my favorite books. My mother always said that "horse" was my middle name. It wasn't really. My middle name is Bliss, the one I go by. I was named after an Army Post after Fort Bliss. I guess it's good I wasn't born at Fort Huachuca. [Laughter]</p> <p>My parents thought this fascination with flying was just a child's passing fancy. Women didn't have flying careers. They were mothers and homemakers. They feared for my future and were not supportive. I found it was discouraging and expensive to start so many classes in college that I wasn't able to complete because I was always out of town flying.</p> <p>Life has had a lot of firsts for me. I was a first child. I flew for one of the first air ambulance companies, airlifting patients and medical teams for Stanford and the University of California hospitals. I was the first woman smoke jumper pilot and air tanker pilot with an initial attack rating on contract to the United States Forest Service. I instructed professional flight engineers for their pilot's licenses at Flight Safety International. I flew for three airlines as one of the first women pilots and retired from Delta as a captain. I got to fly the elegant Lockheed 1011 TriStar internationally. My dream realized, I got to see the world.</p> <p>Appointed as an FAA designated pilot examiner, I administered tests and issued most flying licenses in aviation. I've written about my adventures in commercial aviation in my first book called Air Affair, but it was not until the advent of online classes accredited that I have been able to complete my education, 48 years to a bachelor's degree after high school and 52 years to a master's. [Applause]</p> <p>And I am first in my community to receive my Master's in Business Administration from Western Governors University. I wanted to learn about business, should I decide to run my husband's refinery, truck stops, and gas stations. I study with my computer set at a large antique dining room table positioned in front of a fireplace. There's a surrounding view of trees and mountains on my Arizona ranch and of my many horses and cattle.</p> <p>During financial analysis, my husband of nearly 30 years passed away. My student mentor, Maureen Hinckley, gave me emotional support, encouragement, and direction. Without her, I'm not sure I could have continued. Course mentor for financial analysis Ken Cassell understood and was unwavering in his support as one term passed into the next. For weeks, I wasn't able to concentrate. Allan Jones, course mentor for decision analysis in that new term, was kind to patiently explain things that I found interesting and innovative in assembly-line calculations and project management. Somehow, I strengthened and returned from these stunning events.</p> <p>A term late and with a vacant and heavy heart, I kept going. I developed a 501c3 nonprofit called Aqua Sun Foundation as my capstone project, obtaining tax-exempt status for donors. The organization purchases solar water purification units to send to disaster-ridden and needy areas of the world. Shortly after, I put together a for-profiting marketing LLC called SAM, an acronym for Superior American Marketing.</p> <p>I'm here today proudly accepting my master's degree from Western Governors University knowing that I was only able to undertake such a challenge because it was online. I've been able to run my remote ranch and give flying lessons off my landing strip while studying. Online education has filled the void and is absolutely the most innovative and best idea in education ever. Thank you, Western Governors University, for giving me this opportunity to share with my fellow students my successful journey to my MBA through online education.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)