2017 Commencement: Reflections of WGU Washington Graduates

6th Commencement WGU Washington’s sixth annual commencement is just around the corner. Over 2,600 graduates make up this year’s graduating class, joining 8,500+ alumni across the state.

For many of our graduates, the opportunity to earn their degree is the conclusion of a long journey. Working adults returning to school to finish their degree after years on the job. Stay at home parents who are joining the workforce. Active duty military and veterans applying their skills to a new career. First generation college students who are seeing the hopes of their parents realized.

Their perseverance and will be recognized on Saturday, May 6 at the KeyArena in Seattle. We asked a few of our graduates to reflect on their time as a student, their relationship with their mentor, and what earning their degree means for them and their families.

“Really, what this degree means to me is the idea that I am strong, positive, and have a great deal of intellectual and societal worth. I am proud of my success at WGU. I feel encouraged and excited about the next steps. I hadn't felt that way in a long time and am grateful to WGU for helping me get that back.”

—Alan, Bachelor of Science - Business Management

“My parents and grandparents were never able to complete their bachelor's degrees. This degree has allowed me the opportunity to better myself in this world and to honor the sacrifices they made for me. This degree is a symbol of betterment and a commitment to the American Dream. I hope that someday my kids can go further than me in their education, just as I have gone further than my parents and grandparents.”

—Anthony, Bachelor of Science – Business Management

“I watched my mom walk in her associate degree graduation when I was in elementary school. I remember how important and special that day was to her, and I knew that I would someday attend college as well. My degree has opened doors for me that I never thought possible after being faced with the struggles of chronic disability. I thought I would never be able to obtain my degree, never set the example of importance of education for my children, and never have a chance to meet my goals. WGU changed that, and gave me an opportunity to earn my degree, on my terms. It gave me back a part of my life I thought was unattainable, and has allowed me to finally be recognized not only for my level of experience but also the correct education to correlate, resulting in a promotion at my job.”

—Carly, Bachelor of Science – Business Management

“My mentor has become a good friend. She offered support and provided options through many of the obstacles I found during my educational path. With an online education a student can feel isolated, but she was always there to listen to my stress and provide friendship.”

—Carol, Bachelor of Arts – Interdisciplinary Studies (Grade K-8)

“I am not only the first in my family to have a college degree, but also the first to have a career. I am now able to pursue a meaningful career that helps young students to feel success, increase their confidence, and give students a positive influence that I hope they remember as they grow to become independent members of society.”

—Cassie, Bachelor of Arts - Interdisciplinary Studies (Grade K-8)

“With my degree I am now able to move forward in my career path, and not feel stuck in my current job. I can now move on to new experiences and present myself as even more valuable with my past experience and now my educational accomplishment. This degree will open up a lot of new opportunities for me.”

—Gretchen, Bachelor of Science, Health Informatics

This degree means a lot. On my first attempt to get a four-year degree, I had to stop once work schedules and school schedules no longer coincided. After getting married and then having our first baby, my priorities shifted and finishing school got placed on the back burner. As my son got older, I just couldn't see how or when I could make going back to school a priority without it being a major strain on our family. And then my husband learned about WGU and their online program. WGU was exactly what our family needed - allowing my husband to still work and me to be a wife and mom. To go through this process together and to be reaching this achievement together means the world to my husband and me.”

—Jennifer, Bachelor of Arts – Interdisciplinary Studies (Grade K-8)

“My mentor was always valuable. Every second that I had with her was extremely valuable. She was always encouraging and positive. I never heard a negative word coming from her. She always believed in me and that no matter what I was going through, that I could do it. When I thought that I was behind, she gave me courage that I could finish on time. It really was the most incredible mentorship that I had ever experienced.”

—Karen, Master of Science - Nursing – Leadership and Management

“My experience was more than I could ever ask for. I had a delightful mentor who kept me motivated and helped with all the little things. WGU worked with my host school and everything was flawless. Everyone who worked with me was pleasant and as helpful as could be.”

—Kathryn, Master of Arts - Mathematics Education

“I had always regretted not finishing college. I feel so proud to have returned to college at age forty-eight and completed my program. I feel I have set a good example for my two daughters who were going through their college programs while I was enrolled at WGU.”

—Kristine, Bachelor of Science - Business Management

“My degree has given me career options and pay scale advantages. It has also given me a deeper understanding and a fresh sense of wonder about the world around me. However, I would have to say that the most immediate reward of earning my degree has been a renewed sense of self-confidence.

My experience with WGU has exceeded my expectations. The content and rigor of coursework allowed me to learn a vast amount of information and develop countless new skills. While I found the material challenging and intellectually stimulating, any help needed was only a click or a phone call away. All mentors and departments were kind and professional in their interactions with me. I felt valued throughout my time as a student at WGU, and I was downright babied by my wonderfully caring and capable student mentor--Kathy Franklin--who was continuously by my side holding my hand and providing encouragement every step of the way. WGU has spoiled me. How could I ever attend another university after such treatment? You'd better get that doctoral program ready for me, WGU!”

—Lisa, Master of Arts – Science Education

“I have always wanted to be a teacher, however, being a single parent and working two jobs made it difficult. I chose WGU because I was able to complete my degree on my own schedule. I was excited to start a program that worked with my life. This degree means everything to me. I will finally be able to take care of my family the way I have always wanted to. This experience has also allowed me to show my children that you can accomplish anything if you are willing to work for it.”

—Sarah, Bachelor of Arts – Interdisciplinary Studies (Grade K-8)

“My degree is more valuable than you can imagine. Neither of my parents had degrees, and neither of my siblings went to college. I had three kids in college at the same time I was pursuing my degree. I was able to be an example and inspiration to them by finishing my degree first.”

—Teresa, Bachelor of Science - Health Informatics

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