Part of Western Governors University
Stacey Bess is an inspirational educator and author who speaks on the importance of service, mentorship, leadership, and overcoming adversity. Drawing on her fascinating and inspirational personal story—teaching homeless children in a small shed known as The School with No Name—she offers powerful insights and lessons that audiences yearning to make a difference can apply to their community or organization.
Through ups and downs and many personal struggles, including a battle with cancer, Bess taught kindergarten through sixth grade for 11 years at The School with No Name. This experience caused a profound change in Stacey, as well as her students. During that time, she discovered that, by teaching and modeling love, self-worth, personal power, and courage, she could reach children with no homes and little hope, children who had previously been labeled “unteachable.”
These children grew into living proof that Stacey’s methods work. To inspire and motivate others with a passion for service, Stacey penned the memoir Nobody Don’t Love Nobody, which was adapted into the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie Beyond the Blackboard.
Stacey earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Utah and continues to be a leading advocate in the nation for the educational rights of impoverished children.
Mario D. Mejia
Master of Business Administration
Mario Mejia had a rough start, growing up in the projects of Pittsburgh and suffering a brain injury at age 17, requiring him to relearn basic skills, including walking.
After overcoming many obstacles and setbacks – including his life-threatening injury – Mario wanted to better himself, eventually landing at WGU.
A next generation leader in his community, Mario is the first in his family to earn a master’s degree. He has a passion for philanthropy and enjoys spending time working with young professionals’ groups.
During his career Mario has been most recognized for his accomplishments in innovation, organizational development and strategic implementation. Mario is now an executive with a credit union in Virginia, but his favorite role is that of husband and father of two.
Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
Kathryn Fadenrecht grew up knowing she wanted to be a teacher. She didn’t know that her path to achieving that dream would take the long way. After becoming a teen mom, pushing her dream aside for a bit and working a few jobs to make ends meet, Kathryn found her way to WGU, where she has now achieved her childhood dream. Now she can fulfill her passion.
Each step along her path has taught her something and now walking into her first classroom as “the teacher” has been the realization of her vision and passion.
While it may have taken this wife and mother of three a while to achieve her goal, Kathryn still has dreams. One of those dreams is to work with Sacramento’s inner-city students and their families to support their educational needs.
Master of Science, Information Technology Management
Kimberly is the first of her siblings to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and now a master’s from WGU. She was born into a musical family with 14 children. Kimberly’s mother was a singer and her father played guitar. They encouraged her love of music from a very young age. One of her most fond memories is of singing with her mother in front of their church congregation as a small child.
Kimberly’s passion for singing has only increased over the years. She has performed at a variety of venues, community and sporting events, as a background vocalist for renown artists, and she has even recorded a jingle and voice over for a radio commercial. One of her personal favorite highlights has been a month-long European Christmas holiday tour.