Inspiring Thoughtful Change

Chancellor Jean Floten

By Chancellor Jean Floten

One of my favorite quotations comes from Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Every time I am confronted by a problem with no immediate solution in sight, this saying pops into my head. If I want things to be different, yes, I need to be part of the change. That thought immediately tells me how concerned I really am. Not very, if I am unwilling to “put skin into the game,” as they say.

Being a part of the change is probably what motivated many of us to come to work for WGU. We wanted a better educational experience, one that didn’t cost students a fortune or mortgage their futures, and one that produced significant results. WGU’s affordable, competency-based, online education is now beginning to change the higher education landscape as more and more schools, colleges and universities are finding it a superior way to reach many students; thanks to the efforts of its founding pioneers.

It is very gratifying to see our students go on to achieve great things, often forming alliances with other thoughtful, committed people to make their communities better places. One such student, Kathryn Kelly, was recently featured by Mike Flynn, a Seattle-based business blogger, who tells stories about innovative people. You may read her story here.

Kathryn already had one successful career and several impressive degrees under her belt before she became a WGU student, where she experienced our different way of learning. After graduating and thinking the model could work for students of all ages, Kathryn formed “a community learning space” for kids and teachers, an idea that has recently grown into ISchool (for individualized school). Here, high school students design and complete a program of accredited courses at their own pace and schedule -- with amazing results. (Sound familiar?) Topics range from videography, forensics, oceanography, journalism, botany, architecture, neurology, rich as the students' imaginations. Kathryn calls it a form of “unschooling.”

The result? Deeply engaged students that experience high levels of academic and personal success that often astonish even themselves. As Kathryn told Mike Flynn, “When you let students be in control of their learning, great things result.”

Hats off to Kathryn for her thoughtful and committed leadership. She saw a clear need and collected a handful of like-minded people, forging together a pathway to “change the world.”

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