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WGU Graduate Speaker, Scott Saunders, Winter 2009

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Scott Saunders, Winter 2009
Western Governors University
<p>Scott Saunders has a special way to mark major milestones in his life—he gets a tattoo—and thats precisely what he did when he completed his degree in Information Technology from Western Governors University. Scott was selected by the online, nonprofit university to speak at its winter commencement, which was held on January 24 in Salt Lake City. Scott is an IT supervisor for the State of California who worked more than 60 hours a week while he earned his degree. To celebrate completing his degree, Scott headed to the local tattoo shop and had a graduation cap, diploma, and his graduation year inked on his left bicep, a lasting reminder of his hard work and achievement.</p> <p>Scott Saunders earned his Bachelor of Science, Information Technology degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Two years, one month, and four days. That was my journey with Western Governors University to obtain my bachelor’s of science. [Cries] Excuse me. In information technology security concentration. I told everybody I'd cry. I couldn’t even get through the first sentence. [Chuckling] All right. Here we go again.</p> <p>For me, the tipping point occurred during a normal workday in 2006. I was working for the State of California as an IT supervisor, responsible for statewide networks, servers, and information security. I was sitting on a hiring panel, reviewing applications for a vacancy. When it came time to review the previous education certification section, again, I had that conversation about additional weight for those who had two or four-year degrees. </p> <p>See, I had worked my way up through the ranks, always believing that my knowledge, skills, and abilities would compensate for not having a degree. And at that moment, I asked myself, "What's stopping me from getting a degree?" I deserved to get bonus points, too. I found WGU from the distance education and training council and immediately knew this is where I needed to go. The program was affordable, accredited, and accelerated. </p> <p>During my journey with WGU, I had a job that expected more than the standard 40 hours a week. Many weeks, my workplace expected 60-plus hours of my time. Miscreants don’t limit their malicious doings to just Monday through Friday 8:00 to 5:00. Fitting in school was going to be difficult, but I wanted the bonus points, and I wanted another promotion. Going back to school in your mid 30's, well, really kind of a culture shock. I never really liked school. For nearly 20 years, I was in and out of community college, never able to string together enough time to actually finish a program. Instead, I'd become a workaholic, very much what is expected of someone climbing the corporate ladder.</p> <p>To maintain my drive and dedication, no matter how tired I was, I would come home from work and log into the WGU student portal. I would read the recent posts to the various communities. I would go to my study space, read a chapter, write a paper, or run through practice tests. I even watched previous commencements, telling myself, "I will walk that stage." This became my religion. [Cries] When I actually finished the last assessment, I was a little numb. I grabbed my pro-metric printout, walked calmly out to the car, texted my wife that I passed. And just that still, I remember saying, "I am done. Oh, my god. I am done." [Cries] [Applause] Thank you. </p> <p>That's when the emotion took over, believe it or not. The past two years, one month, and four days was over. The tears just started flowing. As is typical for permanently commemorating events in my life, I headed to the local tattoo shop, inked in a graduation cap, diploma, and "2008" on my left bicep to symbolize all the heavy lifting. [Chuckling]</p> <p>I also ordered a class ring that I proudly wear everywhere. See, to me, this is about more than just punching a ticket or bonus points on a resume. This journey has become a way to prove to myself that I could start and finish something. And more importantly, that I am smart enough to graduate. </p> <p>Even six months after completing my degree, when called about the honor of speaking to all of you today, I found the emotions just as strong. I'm not sure who asked the question, but a few minutes into the interview, they asked me how I felt about getting a degree. I remember opening my mouth to answer, only to get choked up. I muttered something really profound, like, "It means a lot." [Chuckling]</p> <p>What I really wanted to say is that this journey has meant the world to me and has truly changed my life. Since beginning my WGU program, I gained the confidence to sit for the certified information systems security professional examination and passed on the first try. [Applause] Yes, it's an accomplishment. [Chuckling]</p> <p>I am now the chief information security officer for Northern California Electric Utility, and two of my primary responsibilities are protecting our customers' personal identifiable information, and the other is safeguards for protecting one of our nation's critical infrastructures. Also, I've been working on a committee with our local state university to assist them with creating a new continuing education program related to information security assurance and training for new information security officers. </p> <p>My journey of two years, one month, and four days is not the end but actually the beginning. I've registered to being the masters of science and information security assurance beginning here in February here at WGU. [Applause] Thank you. I see the master's program as the next logical step in silencing that voice of self-doubt. I also have my eye on a PhD program when I finish the master's. I now like school. [Chuckling]</p> <p>In closing, let me thank the best mentor any student can have, Wendy Campbell. [Applause] Wendy, you have no idea how much your steadfast support guided me during this journey. Also, I'd like to thank my wife and simply say thank you. I love you. [Cries] [Applause]</p> <p>In the words of Thomas Edison, our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. I am thankful I tried one more time. Congratulations to each and every graduate. It is up to each of you to carry forth your success. Whatever your next journey, know in yourself you can do it. Believe in yourself, and just don’t give up. Thank you.</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)