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WGU Graduate Speaker, Pedro Ortega
WGU Graduate Speaker, Pedro Ortega
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Commencement in Austin, Texas on October 12, 2019. Pedro Ortega earned his Master of Science, Cybersecurity and Information Assurance Degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Pedro Ortega: Good morning everyone. Or as they say, "Howdy!" My name is Pedro. Now, let's get this straight, I'm not here to solicit your vote for class president, nor am I here to make your wildest dreams come true. Are we clear on that? [Laughter] All right. However, I would like to share with you the story of a South Texas kiddo with a farmer's tan, whose wildest dream is coming true today as we sit here. </p> <p>But, why should you listen to this story? Aside from you being stuck in your chair for the next hour or so with nowhere to go but the restroom, you'll be amazed to see how you can relate to many of the situations that this kiddo endured on his trek to the finish line. Just like you, I'm sure you'll recall all those sleepless nights trying to catch up on cohorts, or working through the entire night... [sigh] oh, the endless hours of collegiate writing, only to be sleep deprived the next day at work. All due to never-ending wait for that infamous "pass" brought to you by the courtesy of TaskStream. [Laughter] </p> <p>So much work, so little time, yet we persevered thanks to the wonderful liquid motivation we so chronically learned to abuse. Anyone with me? Yeah? All right. So many wonderful stories, everlasting memories, and today this kiddo would like to share his story with you. </p> <p>I was born in Brownsville, Texas, truly yay! Truly a hidden paradise, yet it's considered to be one of the most underprivileged cities in the country. I did not speak a word of English until grade school where I was enrolled in ESL classes. Now, I could've easily become a statistic as well. However, I had to choose to defy the odds, and I'll tell you why I had to choose. But I chose to defy those odds. </p> <p>I worked my way through high school as a band geek and a theater junky. [Chuckles] You know what it's like, you know what it's like with a knack for computers, building a love/hate relationship with what we used to call in my day, "the information super highway." I'm not that old though. Thank you AOL for all those gratuitous nine hour CDs you kind of forgot at Walmart. Thank you. </p> <p>My parents always taught my siblings and me to work hard to achieve our goals, with the constant reminder, "You can do all things, as long as you trust God, and you trust yourself." And so I graduated number seven in a class of nearly 500 students throughout my high school. Now onto college. College was not what I envisioned, and I quickly realized that I was not ready. I failed and dropped every single one of my courses that first semester, and so I decided to join the workforce thinking, "I don't need no education." </p> <p>Boy, was I wrong. I was 18 years old. Working so much for so little. Living on my own. Things got quickly out of hand, and they turned for the worse so bad that I ended up jobless, and living outside of a Whataburger. I still recall that phone call with my mom and dad in which they asked me to come home with the condition that I would go back to school. Thanks, Mom and Dad. [Applause] </p> <p>I soon graduated with an associate's from a brick and mortar school, and kicked off my career in IT. Years went by and things were working out, I guess. Decent salary, I was learning so much when suddenly, I fell head or heels for her. Love you, babe. She made my stomach gargle, and it wasn't just because of that excellent Texas cooking, and Mexican food. Oh! Well, needless to say, soon we were married, and the kiddos came. All of the sudden I ended up splitting a salary for one into three, and that definitely was no fun. I worked harder and harder to try to get promotions and see very small salary increases. I technically became a professional job hopper, chasing all the small salary increases. But each time that I got an increase, a kiddo came. So I said, "Yeah, this is not working out, so we need to stop," and so we did. Three. [Chuckles] </p> <p>Needless to say, I knew something had to be done. And during the summer of 2015, while watching late night TV, a nerdy owl no offense, Sage, wherever you're at but a nerdy owl, promoting an online university that sounded too good to be true, introduced me to WGU. But I opted to purchase the P90X instead. [Laughter] </p> <p>As much as I tried not to think of it, this creepy owl kept haunting me with my reality. [Laughter] I'm gonna get it. Sorry, Sage. [Chuckles] While the rest of the world progressed, I was simply standing by. So I took the plunge, and I enrolled in Western Governors University. I was ready to conquer the world, but soon realized that things were more difficult than I anticipated. I struggled with time management and was unable to complete all of my courses that first semester. No shame in it, I know we've all been there a time or two. </p> <p>But, thanks to my incredible mentors, Teresa, Natasha, wherever you're at, I was able to turn things around. Being a husband, a father of three, and having to travel 80 percent of my time for work made it so difficult to succeed. Somehow I was able to find myself a quiet place with plenty of caffeine. Thanks Starbucks. </p> <p>After four years of madness, I earned my Bachelor of Science in IT Security from Western Governors University. The end of the beginning. I was so pumped. And so I chose to go where no one in my family had gone before. Let's get that master's degree. I wanted to set higher standards for my kids. You always have to be, and will always have to be greater than Mom and Dad. Love you guys. </p> <p>Months into the program, I found myself traveling again, and trying to find the time to study while trying to be a husband and a father. It was so exhausting. And my wife was exhausted as well. She was lonely, and she needed me. And so I made a promise to her. Once I finish this master's degree, we will be together. And so here we are, together, celebrating the fruit of our labor and our sacrifice. Yes, Gabby, Camila, Ivana, Peter ours, as this accomplishment is just mine, and it's as much mine as it is yours. Not only is Dad a master's degree graduate, but he is now senior cyber security engineer in the oil and gas industry. [Applause] </p> <p>Our life is a huge collection of stories. And today, we write a happy ending to one of the greatest. Night owls, whether you're here, or at home, close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Savor this moment as this is our moment. Be proud night owls, we did it! Thank you. [Applause] </p>
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