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WGU Master's Ceremony, August 2019
WGU Master's Ceremony, August 2019
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Master's Commencement in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 3, 2019. Order of events: Processional; National Anthem sang by Sarah Abraham; Welcome and Opening Remarks by WGU President Scott Pulsipher; Commencement Address delivered by All-Time "Jeopardy!" Champion, Ken Jennings; Graduate Speakers are Karyn Halverson and Christopher Woods; Conferral of Degrees by WGU Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Marni Baker Stein; Closing Remarks by WGU President Scott Pulsipher; Recessional.</p> <p>Saturday, August 3, 2019 Western Governors University Master's Commencement in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ken Jennings, the All-Time "Jeopardy!" Champion delivered the Commencement Address. This is a recording of the WGU Master's Ceremony.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Angie Besendorfer: Welcome to the 73rd commencement for Western Governors University. Graduates, families, and friends, thank you for joining us as we celebrate this special occasion. Our ceremony is being recorded and streamed live over the Internet. A special welcome to all of our online participants joining us across the country and around the world. Please silence your cell phones, but keep them nearby as there will be an opportunity later in the program to share your achievement on social media. Please stand for the processional, and remain standing for the national anthem. </p> <p>[Processional and National Anthem] </p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: Thank you. Please take your seats. We'd like to thank Sarah Abraham from Sandy, Utah, who is graduating with her Master of Business Administration for performing our national anthem. Let's give her a round of applause. [Applause] Good morning, everyone. It is my honor to convene the 73rd WGU Commencement in Salt Lake City, Utah. On behalf of the entire university, and our board of trustees, we welcome our honored graduates and we congratulate you on completing one of life's great achievements. </p> <p>We also extend our warmest welcome to the many family members and friends who are here to support their graduates. In addition, we want to recognize and welcome the many graduates, who, together with their family and friends, are watching this event via our live webcast. Let's all give them another round of applause. [Applause] </p> <p>Graduates, it is likely that today would not have been possible without friends and family at your side. Would all of you, the friends and family of our graduates please stand? [Applause] Graduates, applaud them in appreciation for all that they have done.</p> <p>At WGU, we also often have family members graduating together. If you're graduating with a family member, would you please stand? [Applause] What a special moment It is to see families share this occasion together. </p> <p>WGU is honored to be recognized year after year as a military friendly university. We would like to recognize the military members who are graduating. Would the graduates who are active duty, reservists, veterans or military spouses, please stand to be recognized. [Cheers and applause] Thank you, sincerely, for your service to our country. </p> <p>And last, but not least, if you, our students and alumni, are the lifeblood of this institution, then the faculty and staff are its heart. With you today are many of our WGU mentors, instructors and other employees. If you've been a beneficiary of the time and dedication that they've put into their work, please put your hands together one last time, and give them a round of applause. [Applause] </p> <p>Twenty two years ago, WGU was officially founded. Twenty years ago, WGU enrolled its first student. The university now has more than 150,000 graduates. Since our last commencement in June, just two months ago, 5,319 students have graduated from WGU. Today, more than 1,290 of you are joining us at our two ceremonies here in Salt Lake City. We expect to individually recognize you for earning this incredible milestone in your life. </p> <p>Among these, there are 591 have earned bachelor's degrees, and 699 receiving their master's degrees. [Applause] You represent 43 states, Canada, the Northern Mariana Islands, and military installations overseas. Of the 1,290 attending today, 778 are from the state of Utah. Thank you for all being here. It is truly our privilege to be among all of you, and among those who are here in support of you. </p> <p>Let me share some additional facts about today's graduating class, including both our master's and bachelor's graduates. Your average age is 38. Seventy percent of you are women. [Applause] On average, you completed your graduate program in one year and six months. What took you so long? [Chuckles] </p> <p>It's inspiring to look at all of you and to consider your achievements, knowing that you've juggled priorities and faced many challenges along the way. You are the reason that we have gathered here. And for all of us at WGU, the reason why we believe in the importance of our work. Today's commencement celebrates you, our graduates, for setting and accomplishing a significant goal and moving to a new stage in your life. You join only nine percent of adults in the U.S. who hold a master's degree. Much will be expected of you as you continue your life journey. You will take leadership roles at work, and in your homes and in your communities. </p> <p>Education is the greatest predictor of success. You worked hard to attain an educational milestone that will change the course of your own history and influence future generations. You have aspired to greater things. Thank you for letting all of us here at WGU to be a part of it, in the fulfillment of your dream. Thank you so much, and congratulations. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>I'm now pleased to introduce our commencement speaker, Ken Jennings. Ken Jennings is an author, a computer scientist, and a record breaking gameshow champion, gaining hero status in 2004 when he won 74 games and $2.52 million on "Jeopardy!" [Applause] And we learned that that record nearly got beat recently, but he still holds it. </p> <p>Today, Ken writes a weekly quiz based on the previous week's news on Slate, and publishes Connections trivia puzzle online and in Parade. He has co invented the trivia games: "Can You Beat Ken?" and "Quizology" and has published three books: "Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious Competitive Compulsive Word of Trivia Buffs," "Map Head: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks", and "Because I Said So: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids." </p> <p>He lives in Seattle with his wife, Mindy, his son Dylan, and daughter, Katelyn, and a small, excitable dog named Chance. Please welcome, the Michael Jordan of trivia, Mr. Ken Jennings. [Applause] </p> <p>Ken Jennings: Thank you, Scott. I feel like you shouldn't even mention Michael Jordan in this building. Am I wrong? Karl Malone of trivia, maybe. Good morning, everybody, how do you feel? [Cheers] Have you guys ever had one of those dreams where everyone's wearing the same outfit except you? I'm like having that in real life for the first time right now. </p> <p>Well, I'm glad you're excited. You should be excited. You have done something remarkable today. In earning this degree, you have transformed yourself in a way. You have reinvented yourself, and in many cases you've done it against long odds, at great personal cost, and with great personal sacrifice. Sure, you had the resources of this unique and unconventional university. You had the support of your devoted faculty mentors. I hope you had your own support system as well pulling you through family, friends, loved ones. Let's pause one more time to congratulate them as well. I know a lot of them are here today. Please remember to thank them today, they are so proud of you. [applause] You guys are going to get clapped for many times today, you'd better get used to it. </p> <p>But listen, reinvention it's hard. It's not just that it takes a lot of hard work to turn yourself into a new person with new abilities – as you all have done but it does. It also takes courage. Sacrificing and stretching to trade in one life, one viewpoint of yourself in for another, that's scary. I want to talk to you a little bit today about reinvention, just to put your accomplishment in perspective. </p> <p>Here is my own reinvention story. In 2004 I was a fairly unhappy computer programmer living right here in beautiful Salt Lake City. Actually, 15 minutes south of here in Murray. Wow, Murray in the house? [Chuckles] For those of you don't know, Murray is pretty much the same as Salt Lake City, people are a little older and the Costco is a little bigger. That's about the only difference. </p> <p>So why was I unhappy in 2004 in Murray? It was my own damn fault. As far back as I can remember, the main thing that I was good at was knowing stuff. Koala fingerprints are pretty much identical to human ones. The real name of "The Skipper" on "Gilligan's Island" is Jonas Grumby. The longest word ever to name a billboard number one hit? "Bootylicious." Utah is the only U.S. state with an official state cooking pot. Does anybody know what that is by the way? Well everybody knows, the Dutch oven, that is correct. You guys have control of the board. [laughter] And if you are from Utah, and you did not know your official state cooking pot, shame on you! [Laughter] What kind of a citizen are you? Now you know.</p> <p>As a kid, as this kind of weird kid, I would run home every day from the school bus in time to watch "Jeopardy!" which came on at 4 o'clock where I lived. I never missed "Jeopardy!" But I never took that obsession with knowing stuff all that seriously. I certainly never had a guidance counselor tell me that it was a career. </p> <p>So in college I studied English. I liked to write, and I liked to teach. I hoped maybe I'd be a writer or an English teacher someday. But then the spring that I graduated, I got engaged. And then I got worried. Those are often two things that go together, by the way, as you may know. I was worried that I was not going to be able to support a family doing what I loved, on this vague idea of maybe being a writer or a teacher. A friend told me a joke, "What's the difference between an English major and a large, pepperoni pizza? At least the pizza can feed a family of four." [Laughter] I know, right?! Don't tell your friend that. </p> <p>So the whole enterprise started to seem a little bit shaky. Instead, I Went to work for a friend's little Internet start-up, as was the style at the time, this was the year 2000, as a computer programmer. And as it turned out, there were only two problems with this. Number one, I didn't enjoy computer programming, and number two, I was not any good at computer programming. I'll bet there are people her today graduating with Computer degrees. Am I right, anyone? Computer degrees? Make some noise. See, any one of you people could've had my job because I was terrible at it. </p> <p>You can probably see, sitting there from your comfy seats, what I had done wrong. I had made a bad decision out of fear. I was afraid that the things that I was good at, the things that I loved weren't good enough because they didn't seem safe. Or they didn't seem easy. I hadn't believed in myself. </p> <p>Last night I emailed my wife, Mindy, and I asked her if she remembered some of the ideas that I had been throwing around, around this time, to try to figure out my life and start over. She sent me this list. </p> <p>Number one: Quit my job, become a free lance web designer. Number two: Take the foreign service exam, join the State Department, move to Romania or someplace like that, stamp visas in a U.S. embassy. Number three: Start a business painting murals for elementary schools and children's bedrooms. I didn't even remember that one. Number four: Apply to law school. Wow, you can see how desperate I was, right? So I was all over the place. At the end of the list, by the way, at the end of the list she wrote, "The funny thing is, you never did anything about any of them, you just complained." [Laughter] Thank you, honey, I appreciate that. That's very helpful. She's not wrong though. I did not actually do any of those things. </p> <p>As it turned out, spoiler warning, I lucked out. On a whim, one weekend I drove down here from here in Salt Lake, all the way to LA with a friend, and tried out for "Jeopardy!" We both passed the test. We were so happy. A year later I was sitting at work, and the phone rang. "Ken, this is Bob at 'Jeopardy!' We want you to come be a contestant on the show in three weeks." Three weeks? He added, "Oh," and the last thing he said on the call was, "Oh, by the way, you know about our recent rule change, right?" </p> <p>Now I was a 30-year-old dad with young kids. I was not watching "Jeopardy!" every night. In college, you watch "Jeopardy!" As a kid you watch "Jeopardy!" And you hit a certain age in America, and then your start planning your evening around "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel." maybe you guys have parents or grandparents that you cannot call during the "Wheel/Jeopardy!" block. But, as a young, harried dad, I had not watched "Jeopardy!" in years. But I didn't want to say that. So I said, "Why don't you tell me which rule change you're talking about, and I'll tell you if I know about it." [Laughter] </p> <p>He said, "We used to retire champions after they won five games. But now you can just keep playing until you lose." Here is what I said, "Okay, Bob, thanks. I'll make a note of that." But here's what I thought, "Like who cares? What are the odds that this rule change is going to affect me?" But of course it did. That tiny rule change, which they had happened to make just a few months earlier, coincidently turned out to be the thing that changed my life. </p> <p>Now I write and I speak, and I know about stuff full-time. That's my job, and I couldn't be happier. But it wasn't the plan. It was a game show of all things. I got lucky. Not you, my friends, you had a plan. You were smarter than me. You could win on "Jeopardy!" 76 times, I think. You got to a point in your life where you wanted something better. You thought, "You know what, there is something I can be excellent at, and I'm not there yet." And you figured out how to get there. You did the work. Here you are! That's how I know you're going to go on to do great things. </p> <p>Scott Fitzgerald once said, "There are no second acts in American lives." But I know for a fact that he's wrong because I'm in my second act. And after today, so are all of you. There are between 50 and 75 trillion cells in the human body. And over time, each one gradually gets replaced. The lining of your stomach and intestines regenerates every four days. Skin cells live for two or three weeks. Blood cells live between four months and about a year. Even skeletal muscle cells get replaced after 15 years. That's the warranty on your bicep. </p> <p>What this means is that you are, at a cellular level, an almost entirely different person than you were 10 or 20 years ago. The you sitting in your seat today is, on average, about seven years old. Your body will be keep re creating itself as long as you live. So reinvention is not a one time event. Likewise, we are all of us, works in progress. There are moments ahead of all of us where our situations will change, our fields will change, the world will change, and we will have to change with it. We will have to adapt. </p> <p>Reinventing yourself time and time again, over the course of a lifetime is not easy unless you're Bob Dylan or Madonna. For the rest of us, it's very easy to get set in your ways, to do what everyone is doing, to do what worked last time, to do what seems easy and comfortable. But you have to fight that because we don't live in a world anymore where there's one default path to American middle class security, like there used to be. it used to be you get into college, you do what you're told, and somehow it all works out, you're set for life. But work isn't like that anymore. Today there isn't a one size fits all solution. You have to figure out what you can do well and then keep creating niches where you are indispensable. Your story will be different from anyone else's. You will start a new path where there are no footsteps and you'll keep blazing that trail. </p> <p>Here is what I learned about reinventing from my own experience. If you remember anything I say today, and based on my memories of commencement speeches past, I think those odds are not great. But if you remember any of this, please remember what I'm about to say now. First, obsession is destiny. The thing that keeps you up late every night and gets you out of bed every morning, make that the center of your life, and the focus of your goals. For you it's probably not "Jeopardy!" That's okay. Your rule of thumb should be: How much time did I spend today doing the thing that I'm best at? The thing you love, and the talents that you have are sacred things. Take them seriously. </p> <p>Secondly, education is power. The things that you know and the skills that you've mastered are what makes you you. Because we are all the sum of the things that we've learned. And that education doesn't stop just because the bell rings at the end of a class or a diploma gets handed out at a commencement. We should keep learning something new every hour of every day for our entire lives. And you do it just by paying attention. That is the secret. The one thing I've noticed about every "Jeopardy!" champion is they're not weirdoes sitting at home memorizing the encyclopedia. Maybe a few of them are. But for the most part, they're just curious, normal people, but they're curious about everything. They pay attention. </p> <p>Third, and finally, time is short. When you make a course correction a few decades into your life like I did, like maybe some of you did, you become so aware of how precious every day is. There is no time to waste, there is so much good work to be done. What's the meaning of life? Why are we here? We are here to go. So go! Go forth! The world needs you. Change the world. Thank you so much, everybody, congrats again. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: Thank you so much, Ken, that was wonderful. And now, we have the privilege of hearing from two of our graduates. They are Karyn Halverson, Master of Education, Learning and Technology, who is joining us from Abu Dhabi. And Christopher Woods, Master of Science, Management and Leadership, from Indianapolis, Indiana. Please join me in welcoming first to the lectern, Karen. [Applause] </p> <p>Karyn Halverson: Good morning! You all look amazing. And I hope I represent all of you up here well done, and congratulations on today. I'm going to take a minute and take something from a military playbook of thanking your people first, so I don't get to the end and forget. I want to thank my parents, [Coreline, Lamont?] Espline. I want to thank my amazing spouse, Scott Halverson; my siblings, and my three children, Taylor, Joshua, and my angel, Ashley. I'm so grateful for your support and I wouldn't be here without you. </p> <p>When I was in the sixth grade, I wasn't very athletic. Truth be told, I'm still not. Much to my family's surprise, I entered a 20 mile walk a thon across the Nevada desert. I had no idea how long it would take me to walk 20 long miles in the southern Nevada heat. </p> <p>I started off strong. As some friends quit, or went ahead, or fell behind, I had to decide if I was going to keep going or catch a ride to the finish line. It just wasn't in me to quit. </p> <p>Whether it was to prove to my brothers that I could do it, or if I was just plain stubborn, I'm not sure, but I kept going. I had a trick. When I was really overwhelmed with the distance, I would count the telephone poles ahead of me and I would just say to myself, "Okay, just make it to the next three telephone poles." Then I would make it past those three poles. I would say, "Okay, make it to the next stop sign." And then, when I made it to the stop sign, I would again look for the next three telephone poles. </p> <p>Countless telephone poles and stop signs later, I made it. It felt like such an accomplishment. That course of action of facing things a bit at a time has been the key to how I face my life. </p> <p>When my husband was deployed with the military and I was home with three little kids, I didn't wish time away, but with the distance, fear, and the absence of a spouse, I again had to look for my telephone poles in the form of milestones, trips, accomplishments, and reunions. </p> <p>During our time apart, my husband and I set goals to give us telephone poles to count until we were together again as a family. During one of our year long military deployments, we set a goal to run a half marathon to celebrate the halfway mark when my spouse would come home for R&R. Our telephone poles became training, comparing notes, making plans, and then reuniting and accomplishing our goal. I don't know what it is with me and distances, but it seems to be something that challenges me. </p> <p>After years of being a stay at home mom, and a family volunteer for the U.S. military, I decided to go back into the education workforce. My telephone pole was getting hired. This was a slow process starting with substitute teaching, then a long term subbing job, and finally getting hired as a full time teacher after years away from the classroom. </p> <p>I then found my next pole and obtained a teacher librarian endorsement. I was breezing past those telephone poles, and meeting and exceeding my goals. Then, a little under two years ago, I lost my 23 year old daughter, Ashley, to an undiagnosed illness. I didn't know how I was going to face the first night, the first morning, the funeral, the loss. I really had to look for those next telephone poles. </p> <p>Those poles went something like this: Just get out of bed. Shower. Get dressed. Plan a funeral that will make her proud. Take care of my husband. Take care of my kids. Take care of my house. Go back to work. Make a new plan. Set a new goal. Plan a new project. Work on my faith. Remember to pray. And to look for God in the details. Each new day I made it past a few more poles. This doesn't mean that loss doesn't hurt every day, but looking ahead at those poles and knowing I would make it past a few more kept me going. </p> <p>Soon after this life changing event, my husband retired after 30 years in the military, and we were planning to move to a foreign country for his new job. I was still reeling from the loss of my daughter, and we once again were completely starting over. I needed a new goal. This is when WGU became my next telephone pole to keep me going. I needed something to improve my confidence, my job prospects, and honestly, something to give me deadlines and accountability. </p> <p>I felt that gaining new knowledge would help me give my footing back in a world that had completely changed for me. So at the age of 49, I set a new goal. A goal to get my master's degree before I turned 50. I started my first course with WGU. It was tough, and I wondered again if I could do it. Am I too old for this to take this on? Is this the right time in my life? Then one course at a time, one mentor call at a time, I made it through. I just kept looking ahead, one mentor call at a time, and I started counting those telephone poles. </p> <p>This year, with six weeks to spare before my 50th birthday, I completed my master's degree in learning and technology, and I've been hired to teach at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi, an international school in the UAE. [Applause] And if you haven't heard of Abu Dhabi, you probably have heard of Dubai, and we are the next big city close to Dubai. </p> <p>What's my point? Through achieving our degrees we have made it past and to the next telephone pole. Our life experiences that we have embraced, earned, and overcome, define us and have made us who we are. Our accomplished learning here at WGU has taught us that we can do anything we set our minds to, and we can go as far as we want to, one telephone pole at a time. Thank you and congratulations to my fellow graduates, well done. [Applause] </p> <p>Christopher Woods: Don't let what you're going through stop you from getting to where you're going to. WGU graduates, friends, family, faculty, and staff, we made it. I don't know what ya'll had to endure to ensure your success, but I am sure that we all share similarities in our journeys. Tina [Tapey?]wherever you are, thank you. Your Tuesday morning motivational calls will be missed. </p> <p>To get here today, I have endured the distractions of daily living, death, and personal destruction. I probably only sleep about four hours a night. All I know is work. If a man does not work, he shall not eat. For me, work isn't necessarily a job either. I take pride in working hard, smart, and consistent in every aspect of my life. I am a son, a husband, a father of three boys, a brother, an uncle to two girls whom I love like daughters. Not to mention I am a mentor to many, a self published author, a physical therapist assistant, a writing coach, and a team builder. And now I can add to my resume, a Master of Management and Leadership. [Applause] </p> <p>But this degree didn't come easy. During this journey I lost my job, I lost my house, my brother died, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. I've had hospital stays and many ER visits with my children. It's been quite a ride. But just like Peter when he was trying to walk on water, I couldn't allow the storm that was going on around me to distract me from my goals. I guess when I reflect on this journey, I was merely trying to be an example to my kids that my parents were to me. </p> <p>The most important lesson that my father taught me when I was growing up was about self accountability. When I was probably about nine years old, it was a cold, snowy Saturday morning in near December, and I could remember running home from bitty basketball just crying, just in a furious rage. And I knew my father, I knew he would be home Saturday morning to comfort me and help rebuild my ego just because things didn't go well. </p> <p>And after running about two blocks home, I finally made it. And I slammed the door as hard as I could. And I began to pace back and forth and cry and make gestures. But my dad, he still didn't show his face. So for added affect, I slammed the door again. [Chuckles] This time I got my father's attention. "Son! What's wrong?" My dad yelled out to me. And I shouted back, "I ain't never going back. My teammates don't pass me the ball, my coach don't like me, and he barely puts me in the game." </p> <p>At this time my father's face, it went from a look of concern to one of confusion, and disbelief. As his facial expressions changed, so did mine. He then covered his face, he began pointing at me, and laughing. He was saying, "He's crying about basketball. He's crying about basketball." Now at this point I'm completely thrown off. Here I was, I was expecting my father to comfort me, and tell me how I was best, and my coach was stupid, you know? But not my father. Not Noble Woods. </p> <p>What happened next changed my life forever. My father yelled with everything in his body, "Take off your coat. Now pull your pants legs up." And now I'm thinking, I'm like, am I about to get a whooping for this? [Chuckles] But instead, you know, my father began to look me up and down. Up and down, he just started yelling, "Let me see your elbows. Let me see your knees. I don't see any scrapes. Where are the bruises? How many loose balls did you dive for? How many rebounds did you go after? How many steals did you get?" </p> <p>At this point, it got real. I guess realer than it already was, but... [chuckles]. My father got down on one knee, and he grabbed me by my collar, and he got forehead to forehead. And he told me, with everything in his might, "as long as you live, don't you ever tear, cry, or complain about what somebody didn't do for you. If you want something bad enough, you got to work as hard as you can, and go get it yourself." [Applause] </p> <p>And as he stood up, still gripping my collar, he looked at me in my eyes and he said, "If I was your coach, I wouldn't play you either." [Chuckles] And pushed me out of the way. About three years after that, on Thanksgiving Day, my father died. And I watched my mother become a real life superhero. I began to learn another valuable lesson in life, and that was work ethic. She was up every morning at 4:30 cleaning the house before going to work, two, sometimes three jobs. And then she'd come home and still cook a meal for us. </p> <p>Because of the words that my father told me, and the examples that my mother showed me, I know no other way. Work hard. Work smart. Work consistent. Today, all of us in this room are living proof of the lessons that my parents taught me. When you set a goal, and have the dedication, determination, and discipline to achieve, you will succeed. Obstacles cannot stop you, problems cannot stop you. Most of all, other people cannot stop you. The only one who can stop you is you. You have the power to be as great as you want to be. Believe in yourself and remember, success is waiting on you. WGU, let's go! [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Marni Baker Stein: What incredibly powerful and inspiring stories. Thanks to our speakers once again, Karyn Halverson, Christopher Woods, let's give them another round of applause. [Applause] </p> <p>Okay, here we go. We will now recognize each of our master's degree graduates. [Cheers] All right. Would the candidates for master's degrees and educator endorsements please rise, including those of you watching this through the webcast, wherever you are. Come on, stand up. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Upon the favorable recommendation of our faculty, and the authority vested in me, by the board of trustees, and member governors of Western Governors University, I hereby confer upon you the master's degree or endorsement you have earned to include the Master of Arts, the Master of Arts in Teaching, the Master of Business Administration, Master of Education, Master of Science or Educator Endorsement with all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining. Congratulations and welcome to the community of learned professionals at WGU. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Okay, I'll ask you to please be seated for a moment. Folks at home, you can sit down too. Our master's graduates wear a hood bearing the color of their discipline. The following leaders from each of our colleges will now present the diplomas to our graduates. </p> <p>Dr. Rashmi Prasad, Academic Vice President College of Business; Daren Upham Academic Operations, Vice President, College of Health Professions; John Baldaree, Academic Operations Vice President, College of Information Technology; and Dr. Deb Eldridge, Academic Vice President, Teachers College. </p> <p>[Reading of Graduates] </p> <p>Scott D. Pulsipher: Let's hear it one more time for all of our graduates. Congratulations. [Cheers and applause] And just a word of advice to all of our technology Master's, it's always the software. [Laughter] If any of you want to linger around and help out our crew, we might have a job for you. Ken, you might dust off your coding skills. Thank you for your patience though, and we hope that all of you really appreciate this day. </p> <p>Please accept our sincere congratulations, and you now join the ranks of or 150,000 WGU alumni. I love the words that were shared congratulations. [Applause] And I love the words that were shared my Ken, and Karyn, and Chris, and just the reminder that sometimes you have to make sure that you are prepared for small breaks like a "Jeopardy!" rule change. You never know. It could be worth two and a half million dollars. You know, you might want one of those small breaks.</p> <p>I love also this notion that reinvention, that each of us may say, that I am better than the person I used to be. I also love the words that Ken used around "obsession becomes destiny," and following your passion. Karyn, you reminded us of the importance of perseverance and resiliency and the phrase that all of us may walk away with is "just make it to the next pole." And lastly, let's just all remember the words of Chris' father, and that "we should never care, cry, or complain about what someone else didn't do for you." I'm so grateful for the words that each of them have shared with us. I'm grateful for the inspiration that we felt this morning as we've recognized each and every one of you. </p> <p>You'll be happy to learn that we have an active alumni community, and we invite you to stay involved. You can find that community at Alumni.WGU.edu. Connect with your fellow Night Owls, and take advantage of the many benefits and resources to you. </p> <p>For many of you, earning your diploma is the fulfillment of a lifelong goal. The academic degree you have earned at WGU will open doors for you, and allow you to explore new opportunities. But it's important to remember that commencement, it is not the end, it represents a new beginning. I encourage you to explore your dreams, dare to discover, and follow your passions. And whatever you choose to do, do it as well as you possibly can, and great things will follow. </p> <p>Learning is a lifelong journey, and one that is now a habit of both your mind and your heart. I urge you, as you continue your journey, reach out to others in pursuit of their dreams, identify meaningful ways to contribute to your communities, and to your neighborhoods, and help us find our way as a united country, to a brighter pathway for our children, and our children's children. </p> <p>Now, as is consistent with the time that we live in, we have to make sure we have a memento of this moment, so if you have a phone on you, take it out, and let's take a selfie. So I'm going to invite Marni up here, and I'm also going to have Ken come up here, because I'm going to get my phone out, and you're going to be my backdrop. So let's do this. You've got to turn this way. Right here. Okay. Let me turn it around. Okay. Here we go, one, two, three! [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>We love to celebrate this event on social media. We hope that you also share it with all of the friends and family that couldn't be with you here. Remember, as you do so, to use that hashtag, "WGUGrad" and we love to actually share the trending event from today. This now concludes our commencement ceremony. Please remain seated until our graduates have filed out. Thank you and congratulations again. [Cheers and applause]</p>
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