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WGU Graduate Speaker, Raylene Laird, Winter 2007

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Raylene Laird, Winter 2007
Western Governors University
<p>Raylene Laird earned her Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies degree. On February 10, 2007 Laird was a graduate speaker at the Winter 2007 WGU Commencement. This WGU Commencement took place at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>WGU faculty, mentors, honored guests, family and fellow graduates, it’s an honor to be speaking to you today. And I am so excited. In the words of my five-year-old grandson, I have happy feet. That’s his favorite saying now. There was a few things that I was hoping I would find her today. First of all, that we would all be wearing the traditional WGU uniform – jammies and slippers – instead of cap and gown. [Laughter] The other thing I was hoping to find was that we would have our e-mail addresses on our graduation caps so that as I looked out into the audience I could match familiar e-mail addresses with faces. Wishful thinking, I guess.</p> <p>As I was preparing my speech my son gave me this advice. “Don’t be profound, mom. Be real.” How ironic, telling me to be real while speaking at the graduation from a virtual university. But I am here to tell you that my experiences at WGU couldn’t have been more real. The high quality of my education was very real. The friendships I formed were very real. And the degree I earned is very real.</p> <p>In 2005 I was forced by the No Child Left Behind Act to make a choice: either go back to school and finish my teaching degree by January of 2007 or lose my job. I knew there was no way I could go to a traditional university. I have four children, was working fulltime and was caring for both mine and my husband’s sick and elderly parents. I needed flexibility, to say the least, but was not willing to compromise the quality of my education. I guess you could say I wanted it all, and WGU had it all. My WGU journey was about to begin. That was in July of 2005. And what a journey it’s been.</p> <p>I, like many WGU students, have limited computer knowledge and found Tasksteam to be a bit challenging at first. [Laughter] Wow, has that changed. I’m pretty technologically savvy right now. Isn’t it funny how Taskstream, tools of engagement, affectionately nicknamed Taskstream, tears of discouragement at times, became our way of life? How many of us are actually willing to admit our obsession with checking Taskstream every hour to see if that task had been released yet? At last count I’ve logged in personally over 3,000 times. [Laughter]</p> <p>The reasons that brought us to WGU may be different but there are common threads that bind us. A desire for greater knowledge, a quest for personal growth, and of course, a degree. Those looking for an easy way to earn a degree soon found that WGU wasn’t the place to get it. As we’ve all learned, becoming a successful WGU student meant dedication, self-discipline, perseverance, excellent writing skills and of course, determination.</p> <p>The WGU programs and academics were not only rigorous and challenging but in-depth and extremely relevant to our field of study. Everything I learned was easily transferrable to my workplace. I love the WGU communities. You could find just about anything in the message boards, the links or the study guides except how to write a graduation speech. Trust me, I checked. There is not one study guide, one link or one Taskstream assignment dedicated to speechwriting. But I did thoroughly enjoy interacting with WGU students, sharing insights and perspectives with other students from the East Coast to the West Coast and everywhere in between.</p> <p>It was in the EWB community that I met a student who has become one of my dearest friends, almost like a sister to me. She has blessed and enriched my life tremendously. In fact, last summer my husband and I traveled over 800 miles round trip to meet her and her family in person. It was definitely the highlight of our vacation. We can’t wait for another visit.</p> <p>There have been a number of faculty at WGU who were key to my success and I want to thank you for your support, patience and dedication. I especially want to thank my mentor, Rachel Gregson. Rachel, you are an incredibly awesome mentor. Your compassion and concern shines through in your dedication and willingness to work individually with each student, helping to ensure their success. One size certainly doesn’t fit all with you. You knew my timeline was extremely tight. There was no room for error. Yet, somehow you managed to stay one step ahead at all times, ensuring I had Taskstreams and communities open, allowing me to sail through my program, to use your words, “at breakneck speed.” Rachel, you are the gale force wind beneath my wings.</p> <p>But most importantly, I would like to thank my family for their support and believing in me, especially for my sweet and very patient husband. My family gave me the gift of time, taking over most household chores and allowing me needed time to study and complete tasks. They deserve as much credit for this degree as I do for without them it would never have been made possible. My husband has only one request. Will I start cooking again soon? [Laughter] After the graduation is over, dear, I promise, at least until I start into the Master’s program. [Laughter]</p> <p>The reality of my graduating didn’t hit me until I looked in the mirror in full cap and gown. It brought tears to my eyes for you see, I, too, am the first person in my entire family – parents, grandparents or siblings – to have ever attended or earned a college degree. Graduating from college has been a lifelong dream not only for me but also for my parents.</p> <p>Even though both of my parents have recently passed away I know they are very proud of me and are here in spirit celebrating right along with me. I am proud to say that my four children are following in my footsteps. We have become a college-bound family.</p> <p>Even though our time at WGU has come to an end, this phase of our education complete, in reality it is merely a beginning, the commencement of a whole new world of opportunities. We leave here changed. More knowledgeable, competent and full of potential. Our work was real. Our dedication was real. We’ve achieved our dreams and our success is surely real. My fellow graduates, congratulations on a job well done.</p>
Western Governors University
© 2017 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)