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WGU Master's Ceremony, June 2018
WGU Master's Ceremony, June 2018
Western Governors University
<p>Order of Events: Processional; National Anthem sang by Mikela Crockett; Welcome and Opening Remarks from WGU Nevada Chancellor, Dr. Spencer Stewart; Commencement Address delivered by the Governor of the State of Nevada, the Honorable Brian Sandoval; Graduate Speakers are Blanca Martinez and Gregg Moretti; Conferral of Degrees by WGU Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Marni Baker Stein; Closing Remarks by Dr. Stein; Recessional.</p> <p>Transcript of video: </p> <p>Dr. Angie Besendorfer: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 66th commencement ceremony for Western Governors University. Graduates, families, and friends thank you for joining us as we celebrate this special occasion. Our master’s 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 stand for the processional and remain standing for the national anthem.</p> <p>[Processional]</p> <p>[National Anthem]</p> <p>Dr. Spencer Stewart: Thank you. Please take your seats. We'd like to thank Mikela Crockett from Richmond, Virginia who is graduating with a Master of Business Administration Healthcare Management for performing our national anthem let's give her a round of applause.</p> <p>[Applause]</p> <p>Good morning everyone. It is my honor to convene the 2018 WGU commencement in Las Vegas on behalf of the entire university, we welcome our honored graduates, and congratulate you on completing one of life's great achievements. We also extend our warmest welcome to the many family members and friends who are here to support our graduates </p> <p>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 give them a round of applause too.</p> <p>[Applause]</p> <p>There are many others here to celebrate your success we are joined by our provost and chief academic officer Dr. Marni Baker Stein and other members of our university leadership team and executive boards. We’re also honored to have Governor Brian Sandoval with us and we'll be hearing from him later today in the program.</p> <p>Standing here I see the many family and friends of our graduates. It is likely that today would not have been possible without them at your side. In fact there are over 11,000 gas attending today's ceremonies and many more watching online to support and celebrate you. You are a much-loved crowd with all of you the friends and families of our graduates. Please stand up please stand up graduates let's put our hands together and show.</p> <p>[Applause]</p> <p>Now at WGU, we often have family members graduating together could we please have these family members stand and be recognized. It's a special occasion to see family members sharing this moment together let's give them a round of applause. </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 with the graduates who are active duty reservists and veterans please stand and be recognized. Thank you so much for your service.</p> <p>And last but not least, a few our students and alumni are the lifeblood of this institution, then the faculty and staff are its heart. With you today are many WGU faculty mentors and employees. If you've been a beneficiary of the time and dedication they put into their work please put your hands together and give them a round of applause</p> <p>[Applause]</p> <p>Twenty-one years ago WGU was officially founded. 19 years ago WGU enrolled its first student. The university now has more than 110,000 graduates. Since the beginning of the year WGU has awarded nearly 12,000 degrees. Today we recognize the achievements of more than 1500 graduates who are attending the ceremonies in Las Vegas. Today among these there are 756 individuals receiving their bachelor's degrees and 748 receiving their master's degree. You represent 47 states, Canada, the District of Columbia, and military installations overseas. Thank you for being here.</p> <p>Now some additional facts about our graduating class. 39% of you are the first in our families to earn a college degree. We extend a special congratulations to you. Your average age is 39. The youngest is 18 and the oldest is 86. 91% of you are over the age of 27. Among you receiving master's degree on average it took you one year and seven months.</p> <p>[Applause]</p> <p>Rituals and ceremonies play an important role in our lives. They separate extraordinary moments from the daily flow moments that have special meaning and should always be remembered. It is an inspiring and a lifting moment to look out upon you and consider your achievement despite your many priorities and challenges that you had to juggle to attain it. You are the reason that we are gathered here today. </p> <p>Today's commencement ritual is an emphatic punctuation that you our graduates have set and accomplished a significant goal and are moving to a new stage in your life. Since you join the less than nine percent of adults in the U.S. who have earned a master's degree, much will be expected of you as you continue your life's journey; taking leadership roles in businesses organizations and your communities. </p> <p>It has been said that the door of history swings on small hinges you have made the choice and put forth the effort to attain a milestone that will change the course of your own personal history. You have set an expectation for yourself, your families, and your loved ones you have lifted your gaze and aspired to greater things. Never forget the privileges and responsibilities of your education. </p> <p>And finally, a sincere thank you for letting all of us at WGU be part of your journey. We are proud of you and know that you will do great things.</p> <p>Now it is my honor to introduce our keynote speaker. I'm pleased to introduce Governor Brian Sandoval. Governor Sandoval was elected the 30th governor of Nevada in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Prior to serving as governor he served as the United States District Judge for the District of Nevada. Governor Sandoval has also served as Attorney General in Nevada, Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, and in the Nevada legislature. </p> <p>Governor Sandoval's accomplishments as governor include working to make Nevada the most veteran and military friendly state in the nation, restructuring Nevada's approach to economic development, expanding health care coverage, implementing new innovative gaming policy, and leading the effort for an unprecedented investment in and modernization of Nevada's public education system. In addition Governor Sandoval has been a strong proponent of WGU bringing WGU Nevada to the silver state in 2015. </p> <p>Please help me welcome Governor Sandoval.</p> <p>[Applause]</p> <p>The Honorable Brian Sandoval: Good morning everybody. I'm really excited and honored to be here. It truly is a privilege. Chancellor, thank you for the kind introduction.</p> <p>I want to welcome all of you our distinguished guests our faculty members of the graduating class of 2018. Everybody that's joining here I know you've many of you have travelled from all over the country. Those that are joining us online we're all here together to celebrate this milestone achievement in the lives of our graduates.</p> <p>You know as the governor of Nevada it's really a special honor to welcome our 1500 graduates from 47 states. I mean that was really impressive, Chancellor. Washington, D.C. this really is a truly a special day for all of us. </p> <p>You know and being here in Las Vegas we know a little bit about hospitality and we're thrilled to host all of you in the entertainment capital of the world. And for those of you that are hockey fans, GO KNIGHTS GO! </p> <p>Right, but no matter what state or part of the country that you're from today you're all members of what I like to call the Nevada family. And we're honored to share in this momentous occasion so let me begin with a word of congratulations to each member of the WGU graduating class.</p> <p>You know Chancellor said it but I'm gonna say it again. I know that this achievement has been hard fought and that the journey that has brought you to this moment has not always been an easy one. In fact most of the graduates have faced a lot of unique challenges and have overcome those challenges through sheer determination and belief in their ability to succeed and accomplish great things.</p> <p>WGU strives to serve as many students as possible. And as the Chancellor said including underrepresented and first-generation college students, those with modest incomes, and others who lose lives or geographic locations don't allow them to attend traditional campus based colleges.</p> <p>You know 71% of the student population are in one or more of these underserved populations. Many of you are moms and dads. And nearly all of you are working professionals. And boy I bet your families are so proud of you got this exact, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.</p> <p>It has not always been easy, but today I joined your family members your friends the WGU faculty, in saying to each of you, “Congratulations. You did it. Job well done.”</p> <p>Gave me goosebumps when I saw our members of the military extend up just a few minutes ago. So, I want to give a special recognition to our graduates representing our military and Armed Forces. And I'm told that we have a number of graduates who are watching from military installations overseas. Yeah that great. So, we started this week with Memorial Day paying tribute to the heroism and valor of the warriors who have fought for our freedoms, and made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation. </p> <p>I want to recognize the brave men and women who in addition to working hard to earn their college degree through WGU are also serving in uniform to keep our nation safe. We owe you a debt of gratitude we can never fully repay and on behalf of everyone here and the people the state of Nevada thank you. </p> <p>Now over the past year I've had the great opportunity to serve as chairman of the National Governors Association and working with my fellow governors I've been able to learn more about our sister states many of which obviously are represented here today. And as NGA chairman, I've led an initiative which I called Ahead of the Curve. The initiative has been dedicated to studying the innovations and changes in technology that many are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution. </p> <p>We've spent the last year exploring the vast opportunities associated with unmanned aerial systems, driverless cars, and automated technologies with the Internet of Things, and expanding the role of digital technology in our daily lives. </p> <p>These changes in technology have already had profound impacts on the way we live and work the way we learn, like WGU, write, travel and interact with one another. And make no mistake these changes will have long lasting effects on our economy. And will define the job opportunities of today and tomorrow. </p> <p>Now, I have to admit I didn't know enough about WGU a few years ago. You know I've got to talk a little bit about a Nevada because I am Governor of Nevada. But since June 2015 WGU Nevada's enrollment has grown from 900 students to over 3,000 students. That's really impressive. And today one in every five students in Nevada study and exclusively online in a bachelor's or master's degree program is enrolled at WGU Nevada. Since 2015 over 1,400 students have graduated and are enjoying their professional careers right here in our great state. WGU is a game changer for us, for you, and the state's where you live. Now here in Nevada we've seen a resurgence of our economy. One that is becoming more modernized and diversified. We are once again the fastest growing state in the nation. And what I like to call the new Nevada economy is being built on emerging industries, like advanced manufacturing, logistics data storage automated systems, renewable energy, information technology, and other dynamic areas. But at the same time, because of our rapid growth, we are in desperate need of more professionals in education, business, and healthcare. So all of you from other states, stay in Nevada, all right? We need you here. [Chuckling] So, and I know what is occurring here is happening all over the nation, in your respective states and your communities. WGU has anticipated these developments, and has worked to make sure that you have the skills you need to take advantage of the opportunities available to you in the 21st Century. WGU is the right university at the right time and the right place, which brings me to my message that I wanted to share with all of you today. </p> <p>Now I've already said this word several times, and I want to share a few more thoughts about that word: Opportunity. Opportunity. Because it’s a word that we use all the time, and sometimes, I admit, it can ma-, it can become a little bit routine. But I want you to take a moment and really think about what that word means to you, because it means something really special and personal to me. </p> <p>Now, you don't – probably, a lot of you don't know about my background. I come from a pretty humble background and small beginnings. I wasn’t raised by a family of lawyers or judges, or there were no politicians in my family. My dad was one of ten kids. My mom and her sister lived in a little two-bedroom house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My parents moved to Nevada looking for opportunity. So what did that mean to me? My first job, cleaning sheep pens. A second job, bussing tables. A third job, scrubbing pots. A fourth job, loading and unloading trucks. And after that, I was a casino tour bus greeter. True story. </p> <p>Now it wasn’t glamorous, and in fact, it was a lot of really hard work, but it taught me a lot. In fact, everything that I've come up or that I have done up until this day has really prepared me for what I've done – for what I do now, especially cleaning the sheep pen part. [Chuckling] Now I’ve learned the value of hard work, the importance of not giving up. The lesson of sacrificing for the things that matter to you. And I learned that opportunity to succeed is all the more fulfilling and rewarding when it’s earned through struggle and difficulty.</p> <p>Now a wise man once said that satisfaction is in direct proportion to the sacrifice and hard work that you put in. And that anything easily accomplished probably isn’t worth a darn. I never imagined that from my small beginnings that I would have the opportunity I have now to give back to my community, to give back to my state, and have the ability to make a difference in the lives of my fellow citizens. </p> <p>So today, there are more than 1,500 WG gr-, WGU graduates celebrating their decision to pursue your own opportunities in education, health professions, business, information technology. You’ve all made the decision to be the best that you can be. To be successful in your careers, no doubt, but also, and just as importantly, to make the world around you a better place. So to all of our graduates who are taking the next step in your journey as educators, raise your hands. Let’s see you all. Yes. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>You have the opportunity to shape the future. Your role in society cannot be overstated as you invest in the lives of your students and empower them to be leaders, innovators, inventers, entrepreneurs, and the creators of tomorrow. You have the extraordinary opportunity to change the world one student at a time. Seize that opportunity. </p> <p>Now to our graduates from the College of Health Professions taking the next step as healthcare providers, let’s see all of you back there. [Cheering and applause] You’ve been given a remarkable gift. No everyone can provide the compassion, skill, and expertise under pressure that you're able to offer to the most vulnerable among us. Having reached this new point in your careers, you have acquired a special set of tools that will enable you to save lives and to give hope for those most in need. You have the opportunity to change the world one patient at a time. Seize that opportunity. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>To our graduates from the College of Business, let’s see all of you. Yeah. [Cheering and applause] You are on the front lines of this emerging economy, what I mentioned, the fourth industrial revolution. Your optimism and creativity will drive the innovations that continue to redefine our communities. You have the extraordinary opportunity to ensure that these advances in commerce and technology and the innovations behind the 21st Century economy are not only profitable but elevate our quality of life as well. Seize that opportunity.</p> <p>And to our graduates from the College of Information Technology, let’s see you from way back there. [Cheering and applause] You play an invaluable role that will continue to expand as we further integrate technology into more and more aspects of our daily lives. Cyberspace is the new frontier, and whether you're working to keep our cyber infrastructure safe and secure or protecting personal and private data for consumers, or helping design software and information solutions that sustain our digitally connected global community, you have the extraordinary opportunity to apply new technologies in ways the rest of us haven’t even imagined. Seize that opportunity.</p> <p>Now a very, very close friend of mine told me that anything is possible. Anything is possible, and she’s right. No matter what program you’ve completed, or where you're headed in your next professional career, each one of you represents why opportunity is more than just a word. You're proof positive it’s real. Your hard work and your belief in yourself is why no matter who you are, where you came from, all of you can pursue your dreams because as I stand here before you today, I’m living proof that opportunity is not defined by what your last name is, your income bracket, how old you are – and by the way, an 87-year-old graduate? Is that person here with us today? Well, if they're watching online, well done. [Chuckles] [Applause]</p> <p>Your zip code doesn’t matter, or the color of your skin. Rather opportunity is defined by your willingness to believe that you can reach your full potential, that you can achieve great things, and that you can make a difference in the world. That idea is the very essence of what we’re talking about when we refer to the American Dream, and I believe the chancellor talked about that. </p> <p>Now I had to research where American Dream came from, and I was really surprised. But it was a phrase that was made popular by a writer named James Truslow Adams in 1931. He wrote that the American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone. With opportunity for each according to ability or achievements. A dream of a society in which everyone can attain their fullest potential and be recognized for who they are, regardless of the circumstances of birth or position. </p> <p>WGU has offered you the opportunity to pursue your own American Dream, and you have seized that opportunity. For that, I congratulate each one of you, and I encourage you to all embrace that next great opportunity that comes your way. So again, thank you for the privilege and the honor for being able to participate in the ceremony today. And again, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the people of the great state of Nevada, congratulations WGU, Class of 2018. [Cheering and applause] God bless all of you, and God bless the United States of America, the greatest nation on earth. Thank you. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>Dr. Spencer Stewart: Thank you, Governor. And on a personal note, thank you for your last eight years of service. Your leadership, your courage has meant all the difference here in Nevada. [Applause]</p> <p>And now we have the privilege of hearing from two graduates. They are Blanca Martinez, Master of Arts in Teaching, Elementary Education; and Gregg Moretti, Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. Following their speeches, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Marni Baker Stein, will confer your degrees. Please join me in welcoming first to the lectern, Blanca. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>Blanca Martinez: Wow, there’s a lot of you up there. [Chuckles] Okay. Good morning, everyone. While I don't know any of your personally, I know that you all have your own stories to tell about how you got to graduation day. And I just want to take a second to thank you for listening to mine. </p> <p>I don't know if you can tell, but I am naturally a really shy person. I knew that speaking in front of many of you was going to be a challenge for me. Yet I decided to go through with the application process anyway. I wanted to overcome this challenge, and I think that pretty much sums of the essence of me. I overcome challenges. </p> <p>The birth – the first big challenge I explicitly remember occurred when I was six years old. My parents moved my sister and I from Mexico to Las Vegas for better job and educational opportunities. This was a huge culture shock for us. I remember crying every day in my first grade classroom because I didn’t understand what everyone was saying. I tried to speak to the other kids, but nobody understood me. It was like they were speaking another language, but my young mind couldn’t comprehend that they actually were.</p> <p>My teachers made an effort to label everything around the room with a picture of the English and Spanish word for each item. They were so patient with me, and they took the time to really help me learn the language. As you can see, their efforts were successful, and within a few months, I remember receiving an award for learning to speak, read, and write English. They completely changed the path of my life, and I truly believe that without them, I wouldn’t be here today. </p> <p>Now let’s fast forward a few years to challenge number two. I had acclimated well to American culture. I finished elementary school, moved onto junior high, and somehow survived the chaos of high school. This is when all of my friends began applying for colleges and talking about moving away. For me, this was not a possibility. Now my second challenge was not about money, although that was certainly a struggle. </p> <p>My challenge was one that I had dealt with every single day behind closed doors because I knew that if people were to find out my secret, I would never be looked at the same way again. To this day, many of my mo-, friends do not know what I’m about to share with you today. </p> <p>I have finally mustered up the courage to admit to everyone here that for many years, I was an undocumented immigrant. Why don't you have your license? Why can't you go to Europe for our senior trip? Why are you suddenly changing your educa-, your… major from Education to English when you're so close to graduating? </p> <p>These were just some of the questions that can now be answered now that you know my secret. Because of this and for too long, I believed that my dream of becoming a teacher would have to be forgotten. As an update to that story, I stand in front of you today a proud U.S. citizen and a teacher. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>Thank you. In 2009, I received my bachelor’s degree from Nevada State College. I remember my mom sitting in the audience, her eyes filled with tears of joy as I walked across the stage. It was such an incredible feat for us as a family, and I remember thinking that at one day, I hope to my make my mom this proud of me again. If I would have known that only three years later, I wouldn’t have her anymore, I would have enrolled in this program much sooner.</p> <p>Challenge number three was finding the motivation to enroll in a non-traditional teacher program after the grief that came with losing my mom. As you can see, I was able to do it, and even though she may not be physically here, I know right now, I am making her that proud again. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>Now my story ha-, does have a happy ending. A year after her death, I stumbled across a program that reignited my hope of becoming a teacher. The alternative route to licensure program with the Clark County School District gave the me opportunity to be in the classroom sooner rather than later. I currently teach second grade, and because of the structure of our grade level, I am the teacher of 55 rambunctious students. </p> <p>We are considered a low-income school, where 100 percent of our students receive free breakfast, lunch, and supper. Many of our children come from broken homes and do not have good role models in their lives. Even as young as seven and eight years old, I have heard them make comments about not being sure they could graduate high school, because they want to go to work to help their parents make more money. </p> <p>Now I know that this speech is being tape recorded, so I’d like to take this opportunity to send a message directly to our students at Pittman Elementary. I am up here today, facing my fear of public speaking in front of thousands of people, and I became extremely vulnerable by sharing my secrets, not just for myself, but to be an example for you. I want to show you that you absolutely can and should graduate. Nobody in my family had gone to college before me, and we did not have a lot of money. But when I… when I was your age. But what I did have was a very supportive family and teachers who cared about me and taught me the value of education. And we care about you. We believe in you. We know you can do it, and we will be there every step of the way to cheer you on.</p> <p>Now to everyone here that is graduating today, I may not know you personally, but I know that you have surpassed your own set of challenges to achieve this goal, and I want to congratulate you. To all of the new and current teachers here, I want to close to – with a special message just for you.</p> <p>When you find yourself struggling to get to a child because of their challenging behaviors, or because they aren’t understanding a concept, or because they don't understand the language, I want to leave you with the following quote from the ever-wise Magic Johnson. "All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and somebody who believes in them. Be that somebody for them, just like somebody’s were for you." Congratulations, Class of 2018. [Cheering and applause] And go Knights!</p> <p>Gregg Moretti: Early in my tech career, I worked for Apple Computers, and although I never got to meet Steve Jobs, I did get to be in the same room with him once. In the department I was in, several of the software engineers were going to demonstrate a new product, and Jobs came into the presentation with his little entourage, came in, sat down, never said a word. The software developers proceeded to give their presentation. When it was over, Jobs got up, started walking out of the room, stopped, turned around and said, “That’s the cheesiest thing I've ever seen,” and walked out of the room.</p> <p>It was pretty much stunned silence in the room. But a few days later, I ran into one of the software developers, and I asked him. I said, “Geez. You – what are you going to do?” And he had a brilliant and incredible answer. He just said, “Start over.” And I was like, wow. What an amazing answer. There was no animosity. There was no ill will. He just simply stated, “Start over.” And that was something that I have kept with me for almost 20 years. </p> <p>I’m now the chief information officer for an electrical cooperative, and I provide cybersecurity services for our portion of the U.S. electrical grid. However, getting here hasn’t been easy. It wasn’t near as difficult as Blanca, but it wasn’t easy. I started and quit college multiple times to get here. Then a college of mine started at WGU, and I started into the programs, and I decided it was time to start over.</p> <p>I can remember. I was sitting in the San Diego Airport when I got the text from Task Stream. And let’s face it. At one point or another, we are all in an unhealthy online relationship with Task Stream. [Laughter] [Cheering and applause] [Chuckles] And – but I can remember sitting there, and I got the text, and it said, “Congratulations. You have successfully completed the capstone for bachelor’s degree. [Cheering] At, [Chuckles] at that moment, there was something changed. Something was different. There was this tremendous emotional and psychological lift that happened. And from there, I never even slowed down. I went straight on to get my master’s degree, and here I am, speaking to you. </p> <p>And as a matter of fact, I applied to speak at my bachelor’s commencement in Salt Lake City, but I wasn’t chosen. So I finished my master’s degree, I started over on my speech, and I succeeded. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>Now as humans, we are designed to learn. We are built to learn, but we’re going to fail. The difference is successful people fail, get up, and start over. [Cheering and applause] One, [Chuckles] one of my favorite sayings is a mashed-up version of something Einstein supposedly said. He said something along the lines of, “Education is not about the learning of facts. It’s about teaching the mind to think.” And also, the history or the author of this is dubious at best. It’s extremely accurate. </p> <p>Learning to think is like any other skill: riding a mountain bike, doing yoga, using money. And I think I like that statement so well because it fit me. I needed to train my mind to think. I needed to evolve past biased thinking. Think about how much better the world would be if we could all objectively – and that’s the key word here – if we could all objectively analyze and evaluate a given statement, event, or idea, and not allow our own emotions or worse - the emotions of other people - to influence our thinking.</p> <p>Critical thinking is crucial in our world for success, and critical thinking is a skill that has to be learned as well. If a person is to climb out of the quagmire of mediocrity, rise above the noise of screaming emotions, personal agendas, and biased thinking, higher education and advanced learning is an excellent place to start or start over. </p> <p>Through our accomplishments we have made, we have begun our journey above the – rising above the emotional masses of the discontent. Now let us move forward using common sense and critical thinking in an attempt to make life better based on fact, reasoning, and higher cognitive skills. Never be afraid to fail, and never be afraid to start over. Congratulations. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>Dr. Marni Baker Stein: Thank you so much, speakers. That was wonderful. So inspiring. It’s now time to recognize each of our master’s degree graduates. [cheering] Would the candidates for master’s degrees please rise, including those of you watching this by webcast, wherever you may be. So please rise, all. [Cheering and applause]</p> <p>Okay, this is the big moment. Upon the favorable recommendation of our faculty, and the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees and member governors of Western Governor’s University, I hereby confer upon you the master’s degree you have earned to include the Master of Arts, the Master of Arts in Teaching, the Master of Business Administration, [Cheering] the Master of Education or Master of Science, with all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining. Congratulations, and welcome to the community of learned professionals. [Cheering and applause] </p> <p>Our master’s graduates wear a hood bearing the color of their discipline. So all please just be seated for a moment. </p> <p>Female: You did it! You did it, [inaudible]! [Chuckling]</p> <p>Dr. Marni Baker Stein: That’s right! [Chuckles] The following are the leaders from each of our colleges, who will now present the diplomas to our graduates. Deb Eldridge, Academic Vice President, Teacher’s College. Dr. Rashmi Prasad, Academic Vice President, College of Business. Darren Upham, Vice President Academic Operations, College of Health Professions. And Dr. Elke Leeds, Academic Vice President, College of Information Technology. </p> <p>[Names read]</p> <p>Dr. Marni Baker Stein: [Whistling] Graduates, please accept our sincere congra-, congratulations. All of us at WGU are very proud of you. And we welcome you into our community of alumni now with you 110,000 strong. [Cheering and applause] For many of you – that’s right. For many of you, earning your diploma is a fulfillment of a lifelong goal. The academic degree you’ve earned at WGU will open doors for you and allow you to explore new opportunities. But it’s important to remember that commencement is not the end. It reprime-, it represents a new beginning. I encourage you to explore your dreams, to continue to dare to discover, and to follow your passions.</p> <p>Whatever you choose to do, do it as well as you possibly can, and great things will follow. 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 to reach out to others in pursuit of their dreams, identify meaningful ways to contribute to your communities and to your neighbors. 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 this is really corny, and my kids are going to kill me, but let’s take a minute to celebrate with a selfie. [Chuckling] Everybody, okay, smile. [Cheering and applause] </p> <p>As you celebrate at scale on social media, please remember to use the hashtag #WGUGrads so we can find you. </p> <p>This now concludes our commencement ceremony. [Cheering and applause] [Horn blares] Congratulations all! [Cheering and applause] And thank you. Everyone please remain seated until our graduates have filed out. Thank you so much. Congratulations. [Cheering and applause] [Whistling] <p>[Recessional]</p>
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