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WGU Graduate Speaker, Veronica Etier
WGU Graduate Speaker, Veronica Etier
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Commencement in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 3, 2019. Veronica Etier earned her Bachelor of Science, Business Management degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: Thank you so much, Ken, for those inspiring words. And now we have the privilege of hearing from two graduates. They are Veronica Etier, Bachelor of Science, Business Management from Mercer Island, Washington. As well as she will be followed by Codie Sprinkle, Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies from Mary, North Carolina. Please join me in welcoming first to the lectern, Veronica. [Applause]</p> <p>Veronica Etier: Thank you. Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets said, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned in life. It goes on." Life does go on regardless of the cards that we're dealt. It's how we play them that matters. The events in my life that have had the most profound emotional effect on me have made me the person that I am today.</p> <p>I'm happy with who I am, but I'm also always trying to strive to be better. With the support of the Mary Graham Children's Foundation, and WGU's Women in Leadership scholarship, I have earned my Bachelors of Science in Business Management through Western Governors University.</p> <p>Mary Graham holds a very special place in my heart and has been a big part of my life. I've been part of the organization since before I was three, and until I aged out of the system at 18. Throughout my childhood, I was bounced back and forth from foster homes and Mary Graham home. All of my belongings put into a trash bag. Sleeping in someone else's sheets, eating someone else's food, staying in their house, rarely feeling comfortable enough to call anywhere home.</p> <p>My mom and dad weren't there to show me how to ride a bike, to make sure that I did my homework, to teach me how to drive, or get ready for prom. I was often very angry and got into a lot of fights. I was even expelled by eighth grade. My social workers thought I was going to be a lawyer because I wanted to sue everyone in the foster care system. [Chuckles]</p> <p>When you grow up in foster care, you don't receive the guidance and support from parents and family. When 18 hits, you're on your own. There is no back up plan, there is no safety net. At 18, I was not ready to be on my own, but I didn't have a choice. And a week later, I gave birth to my son, and felt love for the first time in my life. At 21, I had my second son, and two weeks later I took in my brother and sister who were six and eight because I didn't want them to grow up in foster care the way that I did.</p> <p>I made mistakes, but I did what I thought was best at the time with the resources that I had available to me, and we all survived. My little brother even has a baby of his own now. It's crazy to look back on my childhood and then to look at my children now. They mean the world to me and there's nothing that I wouldn't do for them. My youngest, Jaden, will be a sophomore in high school this year and my oldest son, Roosevelt, is a pilot and he's going to college in 19 days to pursue his dream of becoming a commercial pilot. [Applause]</p> <p>Over the years, I tried several times to go back to school for a degree. But being a single parent of four kids with no support system, a degree seemed just out of reach. In 2016, I was talking to my boss, and she so kindly pointed out that, in order to pursue my career that I needed to go back to school and work on my degree.</p> <p>We looked up WGU, and within a month I was enrolled and taking classes. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but I didn't. My Information Systems Management class almost broke me. There was so much information, I didn't know if I could keep up. I almost gave up several times, but I didn't. I'd wipe the tears from my face, I'd sit back down at my desk, and I'd try again. Things finally started to click, and I understood the concept of how hardware, software, networking and big data all worked together. And now I can look back on those experiences and say that I am truly grateful for those learning moments. It may have hurt at times, but I grew tremendously as a person. I gained more from that course than what the text provided me. I gained a higher level of respect for myself and admiration of my own achievements.</p> <p>The lessons that we've been taught are not just processes, procedures, and formulas. They are high level, with an ethical filter of honesty, humility, and integrity. We have been taught to listen to others with respect, to initiate cross functional collaboration, to step outside of the box, and that everyone's voice can add value. The edge that we received gives us the tools to add value to the world.</p> <p>As WGU alumni, our class walks away today with the power to make a positive difference. We have fought to be here, we have earned our "night owl" status, we have sacrificed sleep, and time, and God knows what else, to earn our degrees. Today we leave here knowing cyber security, information management, we are teachers who will love and nurture our children and fight for their rights to education. We also have the skills to create new businesses and our own non profit organizations. We also are nurses and health care professionals who understand not just our physical bodies, but the need for attention for mental health.</p> <p>Throughout my journey, there have been people to help me make my life better, people who changed my world. And I would like to thank them. To my pre K teacher for having shoes for me in class, and teaching me about butterflies. To my kindergarten teacher for catching that I was dyslexic and getting me into tutoring. Miss Price, my ninth grade teacher, for putting up with my disrespect, seeing through all the negativity, and showing me that you cared. And most of all, thank you for buying me a jacket and loving me.</p> <p>Thank you to Grandma Johnson and Papa Robert. Even though we weren't blood, and our time was short, you are my mom and dad, rest in heaven. Thank you to my children for cooking dinner and not letting me starve during my journey to my degree. And finally, thank you WGU, class of 2019. I can't wait to see the future progress that our alumni makes. Please make a difference. Always remember that a person is never too old or too young for you to make an impact on their lives. We all have the ability to affect change, even if it's only change our own minds. Thank you. [Cheers and applause]</p>
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