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May 3-4, 2024

Commencement Weekend in Cincinnati

Leavitt School of Health and
School of Education Ceremony

School of Business and
School of Technology Ceremony

Cincinnati Commencement Deadlines:

Cincinnati Commencement Details:

Parking & Bag Policies

Information Coming Soon!


Hotel Discounts

Information Coming Soon!


Alumni Celebration in Chicago

Friday, September 22

Information Coming Soon!

Keynote Speaker

Information Coming Soon!

Bachelor's Ceremony Graduate Speakers

Information Coming Soon!

Master's Ceremony Graduate Speakers

Information Coming Soon!

National Anthem Singers

Information Coming Soon!

Keynote Speaker

Grandmaster Maurice Ashley

Maurice Ashley made history in 1999 when he became the first African American chess Grandmaster. He is a national championship coach, many time author, chess commentator, puzzle inventor, video course creator, and motivational speaker.

Maurice has spent decades providing dynamic live tournament coverage of world-class chess competitions and matches. His high-energy, unapologetic, and irreverent commentary combines Brooklyn street smarts with professional ESPN-style sports analysis. He has covered every class of elite event, including the World Chess Championships, the US Chess Championships, the Grand Chess Tour, and the legendary “Man vs. Machine” matches between Garry Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue. 

Traveling the world as an ardent spokesperson for the many character-building effects of chess, Maurice shares how chess principles and strategies can be applied to improve business practices and assist with personal growth. Maurice also acts as a master of ceremonies and inspirational speaker at business conferences and high-class chess events.

Maurice has received multiple community service awards from city governments, universities, and community groups for his work. In recognition of his immense contribution to the game, he was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Brooklyn Technical High School Hall of Fame in 2018. His latest books are Move by Move: Life Lessons on and off the Chessboard and The Life Changing Magic of Chess, a picture book for early readers. 

Leavitt School of Health & School of Education
Graduate Speakers

Tiara Jones

Tiara Jones has been a nurse for 11 years with experience working in acute bedside nursing, behavioral health, women and infant services, public health, and home infusion. She has worked for a large home infusion pharmacy for over six years and has a passion for the infusion nursing profession and providing educational development to nurses. 

After obtaining her Certified Registered Nurse Infusion, Tiara moved into a nursing leadership role. This inspired her to further her education and take her  

career to the next level by enrolling in WGU’s Master of Science in Nursing program. Shortly before completing her degree, her employer promoted her from nursing supervisor to Director of Nursing. She believes that a nursing leader plays an important role in supporting and advocating for nurses and looks forward to continuing to grow and develop in this role.

Tiara is the proud mother of three amazing children and wife to a wonderful husband of 18 years. While she has spent most of her life in Arizona, their family relocated to Oregon last year. They love exploring their new home and going on adventures to see the coast, waterfalls, and beautiful scenery. When she’s not working, Tiara loves spending time with family and friends, paddleboarding, gardening, hiking, and camping.

Daniel Baker

Orange County CTE STEM Lab middle school teacher, Daniel Baker, runs one of the top ten STEM lab classes in the country. Daniel is known for his innovative thinking and big idea projects like starting a Maker’s Club to build a full-scale replica of the 1902 Wright Brother’s Glider from scratch. 

Daniel chose to finish his bachelor’s degree and then obtain his master’s degree through WGU to balance his passion for teaching with his need to 

support his family.  “You don’t need a degree to become a CTE teacher,” says Daniel. “You just need experience and skill. Unfortunately, CTE teachers are not paid well, and at some point, you must draw a line between your love of teaching and your need to support your family.” Now, he will start a new career as an instructional designer; a choice that leverages his teaching experience with his education.

Daniel has been married for 28 years and has four children. He loves film and dabbles in independent filmmaking. In his free time, he hopes to produce two screenplays he has written.

School of Business & School of Technology
Graduate Speakers

Shelby Hepner

In 2010, Shelby earned her Cosmetology License and started her career in the beauty industry after graduation. Soon, Shelby was offered the opportunity to train new stylists, which led her to her love of education. 

In 2013, Shelby joined the Schwarzkopf Professional field education team in the Houston area and was quickly promoted to Brand Manager, training across south Texas and Louisiana while still working behind the chair part time. After two years, she was offered a full-time position on the corporate education team, requiring her to move from her home state of Texas to Nashville, Tennessee where she currently resides.

In her new role as a Regional Education Manager, Shelby manages a team of field educators across the southeast region of the United States and works with HCB’s top customers in North America, creating customized education plans to suit their individual needs.

In 2022, Shelby decided to go back to school to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management from WGU. The next year, she earned her M.Ed. in Learning Experience Design and Educational Technology. With these degrees, Shelby plans to stay with Henkel Consumer Brands NA and pivot into the ever-growing field of corporate digital education and training.

Joshawa Stell

After dropping out of college, Josh believed that college wasn’t the route for him until his girlfriend, Mary, convinced him to try again. After many late-night study sessions, Josh is graduating with both his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. 

Last year, Josh started his own small business, CTRL-ALT-FIX LLC, an IT Managed Service provider, with the goal of combining his passion for helping others with his love of technology.

In his free time, Josh pursues many 

hobbies, including learning to fly, caring for his chickens, riding his motorcycle, volunteering, cooking, and playing videogames. Josh lives to try new things and hopes that in sharing his story, he can encourage others to step outside their comfort zone as well.

National Anthem

Tadric Robinson

Tadric Robinson excels in both music and cybersecurity. He has 18 years of experience safeguarding government agencies, private corporations, and IT systems. He's developed and executed IT strategies, managed risks across cloud environments, ensured compliance with industry regulations, and more. With Tadric’s passion for collaboration and knowledge-sharing, he created TracksAllDay, LLC to support and mentor up-and-coming artists, engineers, and technologists. Tadric has also used his skills as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) to volunteer by providing cyber safety seminars and presentations to his community, online, and in-person. 

You can catch Tadric playing the saxophone, producing, or audio engineering. With this blend of musical talent, he creates innovative soundscapes that blend live instrumentation with electronic production, earning him recognition as the #1 Billboard Jazz album. 

When Tadric is not working on music or cybersecurity, he is a full-time father of two and enjoys skating, traveling, and researching.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ceremony FAQs

A commencement guidebook with check in details, parking, maps, and more will be loaded onto the commencement app and emailed to each graduate two weeks prior to the ceremony. 

Graduates are recommended to bring up to 8 guests, but tickets are not required to enter the commencement ceremony. Please feel free to bring additional guests. Graduates do not need to update their initial guest count with the Commencement Office.  

Tickets are not required for WGU commencement weekend events.  

The names of graduates who physically attend an in-person commencement will be read as they cross the stage. All Virtual Commencement paricipants' names wil be read. 

Policies vary by location and venue. Please consult the commencement app or commencement guidebook for further details two weeks prior to the ceremony date.  

Please arrive dressed in your cap and gown for the commencement ceremony. Due to the number of graduates and schedule, it is not practical to change into regalia at the venue.

You can watch the commencement ceremony at the WGU YouTube channel at any point after the start of the ceremony.

The commencement photos are usually available 2-3 weeks after commencement. Those photos will be available for viewing at

Did you know that WGU Alumni have access to hundreds of discounts? Log in to BenefitHub to search for deals on flights, hotels, car rentals, and more.

Ceremony Participation & RSVP FAQs

There is not a time limit on when a graduate may walk in a commencement. Graduates may only participate in one commencement ceremony per degree program completed.

Tickets are not required for commencement weekend events.  

Generally, the commencement ceremony lasts 2 hours.

Yes, it is possible for a commencement ceremony to reach capacity. We suggest that you submit an RSVP to your desired ceremony as soon as you are eligible.

Please review the commencement participation guidelines located in the student handbook, which outlines the eligibility for commencements. If you have additional questions, you can contact the Commencement Office at

Graduates who wish to participate in an in-person or virtual commencement ceremony must complete two steps. 

  1. Submit either your Graduation Application or be enrolled in and only have your final course remaining, such as capstone or final certification, with the exception of direct hours for field experience or student teaching. 

    a. Students who are enrolled in their final course may submit an email to with "Final Course" in the subject line along with desired commencement ceremony. 

  2. Once the Graduation Application is submitted or final course exception is approved, submit an RSVP via the commencement web site (available at  

If you don't currently meet either of these requirements, wait to RSVP until one of the requirements is met. 

No, the graduation application process is separate from submitting a RSVP to a commencement weekend. If the Commencement Office has granted a final course exemption, you do not have to have your graduation application submitted to walk at commencement. 

Yes, the ceremony RSVP form is a separate process from the graduation application. The completion of the ceremony RSVP form reserves your seat at commencement and generates your name card for the announcer. 

After a graduate submits the ceremony RSVP form, a confirmation email is sent to the email address listed on the completed RSVP form. Please check your junk inbox. If you do not see a confirmation email for your ceremony RSVP. Please contact us at with additional questions.

No. Once registration has closed, no late additions, including day of (walk-up) will be permitted.

Graduates may walk in one commencement ceremony per degree. As of January 2022, a graduate may participate in one ceremony per degree, either a virtual or in-person ceremony.

A Grad Pass is a digital QR code issued to each graduate registered for an in-person ceremony the week of commencement. It contains the information that will be displayed on the screen as your name is read and you cross the stage. Graduates will need their phone with them at graduate check-in and as they cross the stage. 

Regalia FAQs

Oak Hall Cap and Gown is the official regalia vendor (caps, gowns, and hoods) for WGU. You can place your order via the website or call 1-800-456-7623 and ask for the Web Department. The official regalia color for graduates is navy.  For visual reference, please see our bachelor’s regalia video and our master’s regalia video. 

For bachelor’s degree, post-baccalaureate teacher programs, or endorsement preparation program (English Language Learning), you should order a cap, bachelor's gown, and tassel. For those earning a master's degree or endorsement preparation program (Educational Leadership), you should order a cap, master's gown, tassel, and a master's hood.

The following master’s hoods are available for purchase at the WGU-Oak Hall Cap and Gown website:

Education - blue 
Business (all MBAs) - drab 
Information Technology - gold 
Nursing – apricot 
Integrated Healthcare Management - salmon 
Master of Health Leadership - sage green

You can order a tassel at the WGU-Oak Hall Cap and Gown website, or by calling 1-800-456-7623 and ask for the Web Department.

Yes, WGU graduates affiliated with an honor society may wear society pins or honor cords/sashes on their gowns. Teacher graduates affiliated with the WGU chapter of the international honor society of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) may order honor cords at    

Prior to the conferral of degrees, bachelor's degree graduates wear the tassel on the right while master's degree graduates wear their tassel on the left for the entire commencement ceremony.

A graduate should wear academic attire appropriate to the awarded degree. The master's gown differs from a bachelor's gown. If you already have a cap and tassel, you can order a master's gown as an individual item on the WGU-Oak Hall Cap and Gown website. Please note that the academic attire for a master's graduate includes a cap, tassel, master's gown, and hood.

WGU graduates who are veterans or active-duty military will be provided with a military honor cord. For virtual commencements, cords will be shipped to the address provided on their RSVP. For in-person commencements, cords will be picked up at the Alumni Celebration or at Commencement during graduate check-in. On your RSVP form, please mark that you are a veteran or on active duty.

Graduates are permitted to decorate their caps and wear sashes with their regalia. Take into consideration the following if decorating your cap or wearing a sash for commencement: 

WGU does not allow content on caps or sashes that is considered, in WGU’s sole discretion, obscene, vulgar, defamatory, hateful, inappropriate, profane or that might disregard another’s copyright or third-party rights. All decorations must lie flat on the cap. 

Philanthropy Cords FAQs

The Philanthropy Cord is a blue and gold cord that WGU graduates often wear with their cap and gown at commencement. The Philanthropy Cord is not only a physical symbol of a graduate’s commitment to WGU, but also more importantly supports a philanthropic legacy that will last for future generations of WGU students.

Graduates can receive a Philanthropy Cord by making a gift of $25 or more to WGU’s Fellow Night Owl Scholarship, a fund established to help current WGU students facing financial hardship cross the finish line to graduation. To donate, graduates can text “WGUCord” to 41-444 or visit this link.

All WGU Philanthropy Cord donations support WGU’s Fellow Night Owl Scholarship, a fund established to help current WGU students facing financial hardship cross the finish line to graduation

For in-person commencements, you may choose to have your Philanthropy Cord mailed to you or picked up at Commencement by visiting the WGU Advancement table at the Alumni Celebration or during graduate check-in before Commencement. 

For virtual commencements, Philanthropy Cords will be mailed prior to the ceremony date.  

WGU Advancement is the official fundraising arm at WGU dedicated to attracting, allocating, and putting dollars to work so more students have access to an affordable, quality education. WGU Advancement’s operation is the next step in WGU’s ever-growing obsession with students’ success, and a way for the increasing number of WGU graduates, donors, and partners to pay it forward. 

Thank you for your generous support! You can donate to the Fellow Night Owl Scholarship by texting “WGUGrad” to 41-444 or by visiting this link.

Letter of Invitation for Abroad & Commencement Announcements FAQs

Yes, students may send an email to with the family member's full name, relationship to the student, and foreign address. Once provided, the Records Department will prepare documents containing information about the commencement and student's earned degree. These prepared letters will then be sent to the student to forward them to the correct parties. It may take 5-10 business days for the letters to be mailed to the student.

Jostens is the current provider for commencement announcements.

Graduation Application & Diploma FAQs

Visit the graduation application page in the student handbook for the most current information on how to apply for graduation.

Visit the graduation application page in the student handbook for the most current information on how to receive your diploma.