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WGU Graduate Speaker, Sarah Biermann, Summer 2016

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Sarah Biermann, Summer 2016
Western Governors University
<p>"We are the hard workers. The problem solvers. We are the time managers and overachievers. We are the overcomers, up at dawners, never-give uppers. We are caretakers, moms, dads, daughters, sons. We’re brothers and sisters. We’re employers and workers. We are WGU."</p> <p>Sarah married her high school sweetheart at the age of 18 and moved to New York City with plans of pursuing a career on Broadway while her husband went off to serve in the Navy. Soon after her arrival in the Big Apple, Sarah received news that she was expecting the couple’s first child. She faced struggles as a young mother and recalls the day they were completely out of formula and diapers, feeling hopeless with only 36 cents in their bank account. Determined to improve her situation, Sarah decided right then and there that it was time to pursue a college degree. After earning her bachelor’s degree in 2013, Sarah began working as a nurse in an addiction center with long-term plans of becoming a nurse educator. She enrolled in WGU’s M.S. Nursing – Education program the same year and now utilizes the skills she has obtained at WGU to help educate those she works with. This degree will help her achieve her dream of working as a nurse educator in the future.</p> <p>Sarah Biermann earned her Master of Science, Nursing - Education degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>To the honored guests, family, friends, and graduates of 2016, you have no idea how thrilled I am that this speech doesn't have to be written in APA format. [Laughter] Well, I guess you probably do.</p> <p>I'm so honored to be speaking here today, and I hope to inspire all of you as you have inspired all of me. You see, even though I do not know you, I still feel like we're a family. What do you think of when you think of a typical college student? Do you think of a teenager or a young adult, single, childless? Do you think of someone who lives in a dorm or at home with their parents? These questions were really directed to the guests, family, and friends of the graduates. Because what makes all of us family, and not strangers is that we've had to overcome adversity to get here today.</p> <p>Not the average college adversity, but more. We all have a bond, a shared understanding of how special and wonderful this moment at our graduation is today. What adversity did you have to overcome to get here today? I want you to imagine those things, to picture them in your mind, and despite all of those things, here you are today graduating.</p> <p>My main adversity, what I picture is the number 36. When I was a child, I decided I would be a Broadway star. My life revolved around acting and singing and dancing. I was fairly talented, but what I lacked in talent I made up for in determination. No one and nothing was stopping me from achieving my dream. Not my family, not my boyfriend. My plans after high school were to move to New York and to see my name in lights.</p> <p>So you're probably wondering why I'm here to accept my masters in nursing. As an idealistic 18 year old, I made a few interesting decisions the summer before I left for New York. One of them was to elope with my high school sweetheart, now husband, John. Why? Because I thought marriage would be fun. Marriage. Fun. [Laughter] Love you, honey.</p> <p>After my wedding I did go to New York and I left my husband behind so that he could join the Navy. Shortly after I got to New York, I started to get very sick. I was throwing up constantly day and night, unable to keep any food down. I thought it was stress, I thought maybe it was the heat from the stage lights. But after a week or so of not being able to hold anything down, and being so weak I could barely walk, I went to the emergency room. The doctor informed me that I was pregnant with my now ten year old daughter, Anna, who is here today to see her mother graduate. Stand up, sweetie. This is for you. [Applause]</p> <p>Being a teen mother was a grueling struggle. A stressful, confusing, emotional, climb uphill battle. There were family members who wouldn't even talk to me, some people blamed me for ruining my husband's life and mine. I was called named I can't even mention. I was a child, and was somehow expected to care for a child of my own. At one point when my daughter was a very small infant, we had run out of both diapers and formula. It was a Monday, and both my husband and I were to receive our measly paychecks on Friday, and we had $.36 in our bank account.</p> <p>Thirty six is my adversity. I never, ever wanted to feel that hopelessness ever again. I heard on a TV show that only one percent of teen mothers graduate from college. I couldn't even find statistics on teen mothers graduating with their masters degrees. Overcoming my adversities has made me appreciate my degree so much more. I am so proud of myself, and that's such an amazing feeling. And I'm humbled to be surrounded by all of you because you're all so amazing to have gotten here. I know you had all to overcome multiple adversities to get here. Think about the people you've inspired and the examples you've set. Think about the lives you touch by living the example of determination.</p> <p>Elizabeth Kubler Ross said, "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."</p> <p>We are the non traditional students who chose a non traditional education path. I've actually had people say to me, "Aren't you worried employers won't take your degree seriously because it was from some online school?" To those people I reply that not taking it seriously would only be the employer's loss. In a lot of ways, our degree speaks so much more about us than a traditional degree.</p> <p>We are the hard workers, the problem solvers, we are the time managers and over achievers. We are the overcomers, up at dawners, never give uppers. We are caretakers, moms, dads, daughters and sons. We are brothers and sisters. We are employers and workers. We are WGU.</p> <p>Never give up. Never give in. Keep that fire and determination and the future is unlimited. Congratulations class of 2016, let's do this!</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)