Dale Boolton, B.S. in Business Management, West Chester, Ohio, tried time and time again to make college work for him but kept being derailed by life and a lack of confidence in himself, until WGU gave him the tools not just to earn a degree but to be truly engaged in learning—for the betterment of his own life as well as that of his family.
Dale Boolton earned his Bachelor of Science, Business Management degree.
Transcription of video:
Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall: We will hear first from Dale Boolton, from Westchester, Ohio, who has earned a bachelor's degree in business management. He will be followed by Cindy Krupinski from Livonia, Michigan, who has earned a bachelor's degree in business IT management, and then we'll hear from Bryon Denton from Danville, Illinois, who has earned his master's degree in nursing education, and finally, we'll be privileged to hear from Lissete Rico from Lehi Acres, Florida, who has earned a master's degree in English language learning. Dale. [Applause]
Dale Boolton: Good morning, fellow graduates, family, friends. My WGU brothers and sisters, we made it, huh? Now, if you're here today, this means something to you. This graduation, this ceremony, it means something to me, but that hasn't always been the case. I haven't always seen the value in a degree, but today, it means more to me than I ever imagined.
Now, my college career began back in 1987. That's the year I graduated high school. I was supposed to go to college for four years, get a job, make a bunch of money. That was 27 years old. I went the traditional route. I went to a university, college right after high school because that's what you're supposed to do, but I guess looking back at the time, I wasn't mature enough for the college experience. I wasn't ready.
It's funny. When you go to college the first time, it's a lot of pomp and circumstance. It's a celebration. The whole family is there to see you off. I remember that second time my father came to get me -- that's right. I dropped out twice -- well, there was no streamers and confetti for that trip. You get that pickup, that's a sad and lonely pickup.
I remember getting the car packed up. The only thing my father said to me that day, I said, "Dad, I'll drive," and he's like, "No, no, son, I'll drive. I want to make sure we get where we're going. Make sure we finish the trip. Make sure we complete the journey." I remember also he said to me that day, "You're probably never going to get your degree," and he was right for some 20 years, and sadly, today, he's not here for me to tell him, "See, I told you so, old man." And the funny thing is for the longest time, he's the whole I reason I wanted that darn degree in the first place, but that's okay because I always knew the love was there, and I'm sure today he's smiling down with pride and shock.
After my brief flirtation with college, I was what you call an entry-level champion. My resume had what you call a significant hourly experience. Nothing else to show for it. Then, I cut my big break. I was hired at a brokerage firm as a brokerage trainee. I worked hard, loved it, and in the brokerage industry, there a couple of rules that you follow as a newbie. You don't pick your own stocks because you don't know what you're doing, and you don't invest your family's money or your friend's money because when the market turns, and it always does, where are you going to go?
Well, the market turned, and my once bright future turned bleak, and I was thoroughly disgusted, embarrassed, ashamed. I felt bad for my clients, my family, my friends. So you think I'd learn my lesson, maybe put some direction in my life. No. I ran away to the circus. True story. You can really do that.
Actually, I knew someone, Cirque du Soleil, worked security for the company, he said, "Why don't you finish the tour out? See the country." So I did that, met a bunch of just interesting people, met some VIPs, including one President Clinton. Shook his hand. He actually saw me with the jacket on when he was exiting the VIP exit, came up to me, and said he loved the show and thanked me for it. I was like, "You're welcome, Mr. President. Have a good day."
So long circus story short, the tour ended in Atlanta. I ended up there working construction. Then, one day, the engine to my car blew out. I had no transportation, no money. I was broke, no emergency fund, no credit, at least no good credit, and so I had to make that call to my parents, thereby admitting defeat once again. Thank God, this time my dad sent me a bus ticket because that would have been 17 hours of just silence, shame, and failure all marinade in one stuffy car, no radio.
So there I was, back in Chicago. I decided to give the stock market another try. I was a little older, a little wiser, got hired at a firm. I worked my way up from broker to trader to assistant head trader. I was making a bunch of money, at least to me anyway. I was on top of the world. Who needed a degree? Well, apparently, I would after the firm would go out of business, and I was once again out of work and at square one.
My father recommended maybe giving school another shot. Of course, this time, he wouldn't be paying for it, and it's funny how you get a new perspective, you know, when something's coming out of your own pocket. And that was my first experience with online education, and really, it wasn't until I met my wife Michelle and we had our first son that I truly embraced education.
And by this time, we had moved to Ohio, where my wife's originally from, shout out to Fort Loramie, and we opened an insurance business. We did pretty well. That lasted for a few years, but soon, my wife and I had two more children, two girls, and I needed more stability. I needed to be an example. I needed my degree. I needed more time.
That's when the WGU competency-based approach really had an impact on my life. Even with the flexibility of asynchronous learning environment, you could really buckle down when you had time and then demonstrate your mastery of the material later, plus my mentor, Rachel, God bless her, she was there every step of the way for me, and I can't imagine doing it any other way.
Now, one thing I've come to realize through my many, many, many jobs is I've been searching for something, I didn't know what but searching. Well, the sense of accomplishment I now have completing my WGU degree, along with what I took from my project management course, of all things, have infused me with a new enthusiasm for what I do now.
Today, I'm working at a regional college, been there for three years, and I plan on sticking around. I've even taken a shine into writing. Now, I'll be honest with you. Up until recently, I wasn't even concerned with attending graduation or walking across the stage. Didn't matter so long as I got that piece of paper and that degree. I have come to understand now it's all about how you want the world to see you. It's not about the time we think we have but the time we make to do what we feel we must, and I speak from experience because I'm a married father of three, nine and under. I've been a big brother through Big Brothers and Big Sisters since 2009, and most recently, I've been a fulltime student at Western Governors University.
I'm just your typical busy adult with no free time, but I chose to make this time. This is important to me. So you see, even though my father might not be around to see me walk across this stage, I think it's important that I'm here. It's important that my wife's here, so she can see what her sacrifice has allowed me to achieve. Love you, baby. And it's imperative that my kids, that my little brother, that they see me walk across this stage because you know what? It really all does matter, and it'll also really matter one day when they start making their own, hopefully better, choices.
Thanks for listening to a chapter out of my story. Congratulations to each and every one of us, and let's get out there and write our own chapters.