You are here
WGU Master's Ceremony, June 2019
WGU Master's Ceremony, June 2019
Western Governors University
<p>Order of Events: Processional; National Anthem sang by Autumn Evangelista; Welcome and Opening Remarks from WGU Nevada Chancellor Dr. Spencer Stewart; Commencement Address delivered by Jaime Casap; Graduate Speakers are Kathleen Satumbaga and Salomon Torrescano; Conferral of Degrees by WGU Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Marni Baker Stein; Closing by WGU Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Marni Baker Stein; Recessional.</p> <p>Saturday, June 8, 2019 Western Governors University Master's Commencement in Anaheim, California. Jamie Casap, the Education Evangelist for Google delivered the Commencement Address. This is a recording of the WGU Master's Ceremony.</p> <p>Transcription of video (note: This is not a complete transcription. The reading of graduates names is not included):</p> <p>Natalie Murray: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 72nd 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 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>Spencer Stewart: Thank you. Please take your seats. We'd like to thank Autumn Evangelista from Desert Hot Springs, California, who is graduating with her Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction for performing our national anthem, one more round of applause. [Applause] </p> <p>Good morning everyone. It is my honor to convene the 72nd WGU Commencement in Anaheim, California. On behalf of the entire university, and our board of trustees, we welcome our honored graduates and congratulate you on completing one of life's great achievements. [Cheers and applause] </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. </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 up? Graduates, let's applaud them in appreciation for all that they have done. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>At WGU, we also often have family members graduating together. If you are graduating with a family member today, would you please stand to be recognized. [Cheers and applause] It's such an inspiring occasion to see families share this moment 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, and military spouses, please stand up. [Cheers and applause] Thank you so much for your service to our country. </p> <p>And last, but not certainly 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 143,000 graduates. That is not a typo. Since our last commencement in April, just two months ago, 6,569 students have graduated from WGU. [Applause] </p> <p>Today we recognize the achievements of 1400 graduates, who are attending the ceremonies in Anaheim. Among these, there are 752 receiving their bachelor's degrees, and 682 receiving their master's degrees. [Applause] You come from 49 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and military instillations overseas. Of the 1,434 attending today, more than half of you are from California. [Cheers and applause] Thank you for being here today. It is 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 masters and bachelors graduates. Your average age is 38, the youngest is 19, and the oldest is 76. [Cheers and applause] And it gets better. Seventy three percent of you are women. [Cheers and applause] And on average, you completed your graduate program in one year and six months. [Applause] </p> <p>It's inspiring to look at all of you and to consider your achievements knowing that you've juggled many 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, taking leadership roles at work, and in your communities. </p> <p>Education is the greatest predictor of career 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 at WGU play a part in the fulfillment of that dream. [Applause] </p> <p>I'm pleased to introduce Jaime Casap, our commencement speaker today. Jaime Casap is the Chief Education Evangelist at Google. Jaime evangelizes the potential of digitalization as an enabling capability in pursuit of promoting inquiry based learning models. Jaime collaborates with school systems, educational organizations, and leaders focused on building innovation into our education policies and practices. </p> <p>In addition to his role as Google, Jaime serves as an advisor to dozens of organizations focused on learning, skill development, and the future of work. Jaime helped launch the Phoenix Coding Academy, a public high school in Phoenix, Arizona, focused on computer science as part of an inquiry based learning model. He teaches a tenth grade communication class at the school. He is also guest lectures at Arizona State University. He speaks on education, digitalization, innovation, Generation Z, and the future of work at events around the world. Please help me welcome Mr. Jaime Casap to the lectern. [Applause] </p> <p>Jaime Casap: All right, how exciting is this? Okay, before I officially start, I've got to share a story with you that's been bugging me for a couple of days. </p> <p>So, a couple nights ago, I am reading a story to my four year old. And we've been reading out of this big animal book. You know, this giant book that we've been reading for months. And just complete coincidence, we were reading about owls. </p> <p>And so we're reading about the great eagle owl, we're reading about the common barn owl, the snowy owl, all of these like it's got hundreds of these different types of owls. And at the end of this reading session I said to her, "Hey, I'm going to the LA area " I can't say Anaheim because she knows Disneyland is in Anaheim, and she won't [laughter] and I said, "I'm going in the LA area to speak to the graduates from that college I was telling you about. And they are known as night owls." </p> <p>And she looked at me a little confused. And I thought, "Oh, I'm going to have to explain to her what a night owl is." But she said, "Pappi, all owls are night owls. [Laughter] That's when they're active, that's when they hunt. We just read about it." [Laughter] So I'm going to have to take classes myself so I can keep up with her. </p> <p>All right, anyway, I want to thank faculty, staff, chancellor, provost, the president, everyone, for having me here today. Everyone's been great, everyone's been very welcoming, to come here and share a couple thoughts with you. But first, before I get started, I want to take a moment to congratulate you, the graduates today, for this enormous milestone. It's a remarkable accomplishment, and one that you should all be proud of. Congratulations. [Applause] Congratulations night owls, or as my daughter would say, "just owls". </p> <p>I also want to congratulation the families present here today, and those who couldn't make it, but are thinking about you guys right now at this very moment. You should be proud of your students, but you should also be proud of yourselves. Your commitment, and in many cases, your sacrifices, are the reasons why we have these distinguished graduates in front of us here today. So congratulations to the families of night owls. [Applause] </p> <p>All right, so when I was asked to come speak here today, I was obviously honored, and I was also very excited. This is always an exciting thing to come do. I was excited, however, until a guy by the name of Robert F. Smith gave a commencement speech that not only ruined the lives of all commencement speakers this session, but possibly for the rest of time. </p> <p>As you know, he promised to pay off the student debt of all the graduates in the auditorium [cheers and applause] [laughter] yeah, I just paid off my 1995 Chevy Celebrity car, that's not gonna happen. [Laughter] Now, I would feel bad, but I don't feel that terrible because I know that Western Governors' tuition is substantially lower than any other school. Yeah, and more importantly, they structured their education programs in exciting and enriching ways where I think you're even getting a better education. </p> <p>Now, that's just not me saying that here to pander to the folks sitting up here on the stage. I actually have evidence. And I want to share an email I received on Tuesday from a fellow Googler, who is out here sitting out here right now. This is a real email I got on Tuesday. </p> <p>"Hi, Jaime, we haven't met, but I saw you're speaking at my graduation in Anaheim on Saturday. I've been at Google for 14 years in engineering, and have always wanted a master's in security. I was accepted into a number of programs, but WGU has a great program that was manageable, and affordable. I could do the program while working full time, and I learned so much. It's all about how much of yourself you put into the program, not about how much it costs." I want to repeat that. "It's all about how much you put yourself into the program, not about how much it costs." Somebody needs to sign her up for an ad because that was absolutely beautiful. [Laughter] </p> <p>And as I look out, and listening to those stats of who we have in the room, and I see first generation students, and I see minority students, and I see students coming from low income families, or living in low income families, I see students who have poured themselves into their programs. In other words, I see me. I believe education disrupts poverty. I believe education changes families' destinies. [Applause] </p> <p>But, I believe those things because that's what education did for me. I am a first generation American, born, raised in Hell's Kitchen, New York. New Yorkers in the room? [Cheers] Ya! Now I'm not talking about the Hell's Kitchen you find today with all the great condos and restaurants. I'm talking about the Hell's Kitchen from the '70s and '80s, when it was really Hell's Kitchen. </p> <p>I grew up with a single mother on welfare and food stamps. I grew up watching friends that I've known since elementary school, cycle in and out of prison, and I wanted none of that. And education was what I saw as my escape route. It wasn't easy. I graduated from college, and I even obtained my master's degree in public policy from Arizona State University in Phoenix, where I live today. </p> <p>Now education is the reason I stand in front of you, and it's the reason I've been able to live the life that I've been able to live. But more importantly, it's the reason why my children have had the opportunities that they've had. That's the impact that education has. It goes on for generations and generations and generations. </p> <p>And I share this with you because this is my life's work. I believe that the street kid hoodlum like me can accomplish everything that I've been able to accomplish, that I know that there are millions and millions of other students just like me who can accomplish the same thing. </p> <p>So as I stand here, I want to share three questions with you. Questions that I wish someone asked me when I was sitting where you are today, questions that we've been hearing our whole lives, all of us have heard this question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Right, you've heard that question? Well, we need to stop asking that question. It's not the right question. It's a question that used to make sense in the olden days, like 1994 [laughter] when change happened much slower. </p> <p>Today we know that jobs will continue to evolve, and continue to change. We know that we'll be working on things that we can't even imagine, using technology that we haven't even invented yet. Because change does happen slowly, but then it happens suddenly, and we stand today in the world of suddenly. </p> <p>"What do you want to be when you grow up?" is an impossible question to answer today, and I think it's the wrong question to ask. So I want to ask you a different question. I want to ask you this: What problem do you want to solve? What's the problem that bugs you, the problem that spins in your head? And I mean any problem. It could be climate change, but it could also be how to make better rap videos, it doesn't matter, it's the problem that you want to solve, that you're passionate about. </p> <p>The second question I want to ask you is this: How do you want to solve that problem? You, personally. How do you take the skills, the abilities that you've learned here, and the passions and gifts that are inside you, to solve that problem that you care about? And then the third question is related to where you find yourself sitting today, a question that obviously your presence here suggests you know the value of: What do you need to keep learning to solve that problem? What are the skills and abilities that you need to keep mastering? What is the strategy for doing that? </p> <p>By the way, Daniel Pink, in his book, "Drive", talked about what motivates all of us as human beings, and it's the same three things. I've just taken that to another level. Purpose what problem do you want to solve? Autonomy how do you want to solve it? And Mastery what do you need to solve that problem? Those are the questions that I want you to think about. You don't have to have the answers, I just want you to think about them. And then there's one more thing before I go, that I want you to think about. I want you to think about a frame, I want you to think about a belief that you hold in absolute truth, so much so that you'd tattoo it on your body if you could. </p> <p>I want to show you something. You see this here? This is Yoda. And Yoda has been sitting on my desk like that for the past 25 years. Everywhere I've worked, every project I've been on, it's been sitting there staring back at me. I was 12 years old in 1980, when I saw "The Empire Strikes Back" in a movie theater. And it was on that day that I heard the most profound thing that I'd ever hear in my life. And I can't believe I'm about to admit this in front of all of you, but you know, we're here in Anaheim, walking distance from Star Wars Park, formerly known as Disneyland. [Laughter] So it's just fate. </p> <p>And while everyone was focused on the big revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father I'm sorry, I should've said "spoiler alert" [laughter] that's not what I focused on. I focused on what this puppet said. When Yoda said, "No, try not. Do or do not, there is no try." That's right, I've structured my entire life on what a puppet said in a movie when I was 12 years old. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>But it's a thought that's been in my head every single day since I've hear that. And over time I realized that we only use that word "try" is when we're scared, when we're scared to fail, when we think we just might fail.</p> <p>When I was invited here, I didn't say, "Thank you for the invitation, I'll try to make it." The pilot on the airplane last night didn't come on the intercom and say, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're landing in the airport, I'm going to try to land this thing." [Laughter] </p> <p>Only when we are scared of failure do we use words like "try." "I'll try to start my business. I'll try to get that job I've always wanted. I will try to be creative." Well, I want you to stop using that word. Don't use the word "try." Find a problem you want to solve, determine how you want to solve it, and then go solve it, period. And if you don't do it on the first attempt, figure out what you need to learn or master, and then do it on the second attempt. Wash, rinse, repeat. </p> <p>It's clear you have the capability to do this. It's clear that you don't let excuses and obstacles stand in your way, otherwise you wouldn't be sitting here. [Applause] Anyway, I don't want to spend all day standing here, you guys have to go celebrate this incredible milestone. So go out, take that problem you're passionate about, take it on with all you've got, and solve it. Don't try, do. Thank you guys very much for having me. [Applause] </p> <p>Spencer Stewart: Thank you, Jaime, we will never look at Yoda the same. And now we have the privilege of hearing from two graduates. They are Kathleen Satumbaga, Master of Science Nursing Leadership and Management from San Antonio, Texas. And Salomon Torrescano [cheers] yes, Master of Business Administration Healthcare Management, right here from Palm Springs, California. Please join me in welcoming first to the lectern, Kathleen. [Applause] </p> <p>Kathleen Satumbaga: Okay. I was not the first person in my family to obtain a master's degree. My father has his master's degree in engineering. Growing up, he always emphasized the power of education to give us opportunities that match our talent. </p> <p>When I was just five years old, my family and I migrated to America from the Philippines. At the time, I did not understand the magnitude of the change. I just remember I didn't speak a word of English, and everything sounded like gibberish. But the impact was so much bigger than that. We went from having little to no possibility of personal or professional growth, to an endless amount of opportunities. </p> <p>It was not until I was older that I realized that my father pursuing his education provided me freedom. That the reason he pushed me educationally was because it positioned our family to move to America. To my parents, education completely changed our lives. My father has always said, "Knowledge can never be taken away from us. Jobs and people may come and go, but no one can take away what we've learned and achieved." [Applause] </p> <p>I initially wanted to finish my degree in one year, but it turned out to be a lot tougher than I thought. For one thing, I bought my first home which flooded immediately after we moved in. So my family and I were displaced, living in a hotel while I was trying to finish my term at WGU. I have vivid memories of sitting in the hotel lobby at 3 a.m., feeling broken down and wondering how I would pull this off. </p> <p>On top of that, I started a new relationship and anyone who has done that knows how much time and energy that can take. Turns out, he ended up being my biggest supporter and played a huge role in my journey. </p> <p>Hardest of all, my grandmother passed away, so I had to go back to the Philippines right in the middle of a term. I remember writing a paper on the 14 hour plane ride, just holding back the tears. In the end, it took me longer than a year, but I did it. And with all that life threw at me, I'm not sure I could've done it with any other school. </p> <p>WGU exceeded all my expectations. Though it's online I never felt that I was alone. My program mentor, Jenny is she here? [Applause] Course instructors, the WGU Writing Center, the library were always there when I needed them. They were always available via phone call, email or text. I never felt that the goal was unattainable, and I never felt that I did not have the tools necessary to finish. </p> <p>This degree has already opened doors for my career that I did not know existed. When my employer found out that I was pursuing my master's degree, they promoted me to team lead at the age of 27, and encouraged me to continue on to higher management, and now, even with greater opportunities still at reach. My ultimate goal is to be either a COO, or a CNO one day. And with my MSN, the possibilities seem endless. [Applause] </p> <p>In fact, I now feel like I have so much opportunities, I kind of wish I could take a course on deciding where to go next. [Laughter] </p> <p>Best of all, this degree has helped me realize my parents' dream for me: An education, opportunities, and the freedom to pursue my dreams. And I know this is what all of our degrees can do for us. They will help us go in the direction of our dreams confidently. </p> <p>I am honored to be standing in front of you today and to be surrounded by people who did not give up on those dreams. Mom, thank you for standing behind my dad while he pursued his education. Behind every smart man is a smart woman, and I'm blessed to have you lead by example. [Applause] </p> <p>So congratulations to all the night owls out there, I know your journey was demanding, tough, and full of sacrifices. We did it for our families, our patience, our careers, and most of all, ourselves. Good luck to all and congratulations again. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Salomon Torrescano: Good morning everyone. There's so many of you. [Chuckles] Let me start off by saying that I never thought I would be standing here today. Like many of you, there were many days that I thought I would never make it to this point. But with hope and perseverance, and the support of so many, I was able to get past many difficult moments. </p> <p>Hope and perseverance are why I decided to share my story with all of you. The thought of opening up so publicly about my life was really nerve wracking and filled with second thoughts. In those times of doubt, I remembered the words of my friend, Jay, "All of us have a story worth sharing, you never know who you may touch." </p> <p>My story began in 1986 in a barrio of East Los Angeles, California. I was born to a beautiful, hard working Mexican immigrant woman who at the time hardly spoke a word of English. Despite being a single mom, she always gave me enough love for two. She worked hard to give me her all, and I'm forever grateful. </p> <p>In my early teenage years I realized that I was different from many of my friends. I couldn't really put my finger on it until I saw an episode of "The Maury Povich Show." [Laughter] And no, I didn't get a paternity test. [Chuckles] </p> <p>The episode was about a guy who came out to his parents as gay. When he told his parents, they gave him a hug and accepted him. Seeing this made me realize that I wanted that. I want the most important woman in my life to accept me for who I am. So I figured I would tell my mom. My reasoning was that she would react just like that guy's parents did on the show. </p> <p>Well, it didn't quite work out that way for me. I came out to my mom at the age of 13. Unfortunately, she was not as open as she is today, and I was completely heartbroken. This caused many arguments between us, my life turned completely upside down, and I spiraled into self destructive behavior, eventually landing in the foster care system. </p> <p>While I was in the system, I bounced around between different homes, group homes, and institutions. Being in foster care was a mixed bag of good and bad experiences. By the age of 15, I had developed a substance abuse problem, and hit my lowest point. Around this time I found the support that I was missing through my two counselors, best friends, and mentors: Bob and Orlando; two of the most wonderful people I know. </p> <p>With their help, I emancipated from the foster care system, got clean and sober, and was able to start fresh. They encouraged me to pursue a career in health care leadership, which eventually brought me to WGU. </p> <p>As a working student, WGU's flexible model allowed me to succeed. The support of my mentors Michelle and Christina helped me throughout the whole process. Without them, I don't know if I would've made it this far. </p> <p>I'm grateful for WGU. This is now my second degree with the university, and I've found that from my mentors, my course instructors, pretty much everyone at WGU has supported me. </p> <p>Throughout my journey, the importance of support has been instrumental and given me the confidence to change my life. I have even felt the support of love once more no longer with us, such as my friend Jay. </p> <p>I met Jay in my teens while I was in foster care. He was a kind spirit, always encouraging me to speak up and believe in myself. Unfortunately, he wasn't as lucky as I was and didn't make it past his addiction. I know he kept an eye out for me, and helped put me on the path that led me here today. </p> <p>Today, things are very different. My mother has grown to accept me for who I am. She still struggles, but I believe the love of her son has allowed her to move past that. [Applause] </p> <p>She's actually here with us today. Where is she? Hello, Mama. [Applause] There she is. [Chuckles] She knew I was graduating but didn't know I was actually going to speak today, much less what I was going to say, so I may be in trouble after this, I'm not sure. [Laughter] And she definitely understands now, so. </p> <p>Bob and Orlando, my partner Fabio, and several close friends are also here today. Whether you can relate to the depth of my story or not, we've all had our struggles. But we have also seen the fruit of our hope and perseverance. I enrolled in WGU because I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in someone's life as others have done for me. </p> <p>As we celebrate today, let us remember how we got here. Let us reaffirm why we did it. And finally, let's aim to make a difference. You never how your life may impact another's no matter how small you think your action is. </p> <p>One thing that I want to say to you as we move on to the next stage of our lives is this: You are worth it. Never give up. Always have hope. And pay it forward. You are the difference that can change the world. Congratulations on graduating today, class of 2019, it's an honor. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Today is your day so thank you everyone. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Marni Baker Stein: Wow. Thank you so much Kathleen and Salomon, for telling us your stories. Let's give our great speakers another round of applause. [Applause] </p> <p>Okay, so now it's time, this is the big moment. We will now recognize each of our master's degree graduates. [Cheers and applause] Okay, let's get ready. </p> <p>Would the candidates for master's degrees and educator endorsements please rise, including those of you who are at home or wherever you are watching this through webcast. Are you rising out there? Get up. </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 that you have earned to include the Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Business Administration [cheers], Master of Education, Master of Science or Educator Endorsement with all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining. Congratulations all of you. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Welcome to the community of proud and bold WGU professionals. Really, congratulations everybody. [Applause] </p> <p>Okay, I'm going to ask you to please be seated for the moment. Those of you at home, you can sit down as well. 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. Jim Franklin, Academic Programs Director, College of Business; Jan Jones Shank, Academic Vice President, College of Health Professions; John Balderee, Academic Operations Vice President, College of Information Technology; and Stacey Ludwig Johnson, Academic Operations Vice President, Teachers College. Jim Franklin? </p> <p>[Reading of Graduates]</p> <p>Marni Baker Stein: Graduates, please accept our sincere congratulations. All of us at WGU are very proud of you and we welcome you into our community of alumni now 143,000 strong. [Applause] </p> <p>For many of you, earning your diploma is the 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 represents a new beginning. I encourage you to explore your dreams, dare to discover, and above all else, 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's now a habit of both your mind and your heart. I urge you, as you continue your journey, to reach out to others who are 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>So we're going to take a second here to do something kind of corny. I'm glad my girls aren't here because they would just be all over this. We're going to take a minute to celebrate with a selfie, so I'd like to invite Jaime and Spencer up to do a selfie with me. Okay? So as we're celebrating with social media, remember to use the hashtag "WGUGrad" to memorialize this moment for you, but also to encourage all of the other WGU night owls who are out there waiting to get to this moment. So here we go. Okay, everybody say "cheese". Awesome. Wait, let me get you from the front too. Yeah. Beautiful. [Cheers] </p> <p>All right. Candidates, this ends our commencement ceremony. [Cheers and applause] Yeah. Soak in this moment and have a wonderful day with your friends and families. Please remain seated until our graduates have filed out. Everybody thank you so much for being here. Thank you, thank you. [Cheers and applause]</p>
Western Governors University
© 2019 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)