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WGU Graduate Speaker, Sean Coghlan, Summer 2010

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Sean Coghlan, Summer 2010
Western Governors University
<p>Sean Coghlan earned his Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies degree. On July 17, 2010 Coghlan was a graduate speaker at the Summer 2010 WGU Commencement. This WGU Commencement took place at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Walter Elias Disney is a man who has become one of my greatest personal influences. He was once quoted saying, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." Well, as fun as impossibility might have been for Walt Disney, my own dreams of getting my degree in education and becoming a classroom teacher seemed to become more and more of an absolute impossibility as the years have crept by for me.</p> <p>See, I grew up, for most of my life, struggling to support myself. So I never had the chance to go to a traditional university. I couldn't afford it, and I couldn't afford the time that it would take since I had to continue my own career. It wouldn't be until a balmy July evening in 2009, in the midst of battle, that I would fully come to understand the realization of a once impossible dream.</p> <p>It was around 6:30 in the evening, and I was seated in an old office chair, listening to an ancient air conditioner do its best to sputter out some kind of cool air in the muggy room that I had situated myself in. My fingers were tapping against the metal field desk that I had set up, and on top of that metal field desk was an open laptop computer, where I was sitting, diligently, trying to finish one of my final task missions for Task Stream to be submitted for my semester at Western Governors University.</p> <p>A sudden static ridden, broken squawk kind of broke me out of the pensive trance that I was in, and I came out of the world of educational testing and assessment strategies and back into the sun stained desert tundra that I had called home for the last eight months. The radio above my head began to come alive again, and it was a call to one of our reconnaissance platoons that was stationed at my outpost. Two of their soldiers, both very good friends of mine back in the States, had been caught in the threshold of on IED blast, and they were now on their way back for urgent medical treatment at my facility.</p> <p>As the medical authority in charge of my small tin can aid station, I began to prepare for the casualties. But as I was doing it, I stopped for a moment. And I balanced over at the open laptop computer that was still on top of the metal field desk, except now it was covered by IV lines, and bleeding control devices, and I started to laugh. And I laughed because it was then that I realized this eternal paradox that had become my life in Iraq. One minute I was struggling to save the lives of my fellow colleagues, my brothers in arms, and the next minute I was struggling to figure out the correct APA format for submission for college. [Laughter] [Applause]</p> <p>And this was all without having to walk more than ten feet away. The famed quote of Walt Disney crept into my mind right there, while I was standing waiting for the helicopter to arrive. And I couldn't help but smile. The United States Army and Western Governors combined had made what I had once looked at as an unachievable obstacle, and less than foreseen future, and almost surreal but present reality.</p> <p>If my time at Western Governors has taught me anything, it is that the future is not a result of choices that are offered to us by present situations, it's something that I am constantly creating every day. [Applause]</p> <p>The words of Walt Disney suddenly made clear sense to me. Given that the future is created anew each day by me, I always have ultimate control over what is, and is not impossible. [Applause]</p> <p>During my time in Iraq, I was able to complete almost two years of course work in the nine months that I was deployed leaving me with just one more course to complete, my demonstration teaching, or student teaching experience. And like a kindergartner on their first day of school, I walked up to the old doors of my elementary school. I had butterflies in my stomach as I opened the doors to what would soon become my future. As I leisurely strolled through the hallways I remembered so fondly from my youth, I was suddenly overcome by this intense sense of absolute happiness.</p> <p>But that happiness was short lived, as always. [Laughter]) Because during my time student teaching, I learned that state cutbacks would result in loss of several jobs throughout the state in education. And as a new teacher just graduating, it was becoming increasingly dismal to find a job. But I remembered the lesson that I had remembered from Walt Disney while I was in Iraq, and I continued to go through with a vigorous enthusiasm.</p> <p>Well, it must be true that belief in the dispositional ideas of hope and faith really do work miracles. Because as I was finishing my student teaching, a third grade position in my district just happened to open up. Now each morning I'm able to walk through the hallways of my old elementary school, and admire all of the beautifully colored bulletin boards before I stop in front of a wooden doorway that leads to my classroom. [Applause]</p> <p>And I have developed a ritual. I unlock the door, turn the knob, I take two steps inside, flick on the light switch, and then I pause for just one minute to take a look at a place that's just above my desk where the now immortalized words read: "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)