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Part of Western Governors University

May 20 & 21 Commencement Weekend in Philadelphia

Bachelor's Ceremony

Master's Ceremony

WGU Commencement in Philadelphia Keynote Speakers

Bachelor's Ceremony Keynote Speaker | Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

Christine Ha

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is President and CEO of SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. With over 300,000 members in 165 countries, SHRM is the largest HR trade association in the world, impacting the lives of 115 million workers. A nationally bestselling author, Mr. Taylor is a sought-after voice on all matters affecting work. He is frequently asked to testify before Congress and authors the weekly USA Today column "Ask HR."

He is the author of RESET: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval. Immediately upon its release in September 2021, RESET was in the top three of the Wall Street Journal’s list of best-selling hardcover business books. All author proceeds benefit the SHRM Foundation, which is committed to empowering HR as a social force for change.

He was appointed chairman of the President’s Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and served as a member of the White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board during the Trump Administration. He is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the University of Miami, Governor of the American Red Cross, and member of the corporate boards of Guild Education, iCIMS, and XPO Logistics (NYSE: XPO).

Master's Ceremony Keynote Speaker | Shayne Moore

Christine Ha

Shayne Moore is a multi-certified IT professional who has been a leader in the technology field for more than 20 years. Moore, who is vice president of information technology at Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, grew up in the Nicetown neighborhood of Philadelphia and knew few people who went to college.

His mother pushed him and his brother to earn a degree, and in 2014, he earned his bachelor’s in information technology from WGU. After this, he discovered the wisdom behind his mother’s encouragement: with a degree and certifications he no longer had to find jobs, because the jobs found him. 

In addition to his successful professional career, Moore is committed to serving others and making a difference in his community, often helping those who come from underserved populations.

He has been ordained and served as an assistant pastor for Trumpet of Zion Tabernacle for 16 years, and for 12 years has volunteered at Philadelphia prisons. He is co-director for H.O.P.E. Ministries, a group that volunteers in the Philadelphia Prison System, and is vice president for Aim For The Net, a program that mentors children while also providing sports as an alternative to the streets.

Moore’s hometown of Philadelphia is known as the “City of Murals,” with close to 4,000 murals, sculptures and ceramic and stained-glass works of art, and in 2020, WGU honored Moore’s professional and charitable contributions by commissioning a 35X30 foot mural on the corner of Wayne Avenue and Berkley Street in Philadelphia.

Bachelor's Ceremony Graduate Speakers

Priscilla Sayles
Sequim, WA
B.S. Nursing

Priscilla Sayles is a Medical, Surgical, and Pediatric Registered Nurse who is known for collaborating with interdisciplinary teams advocating on behalf of her patients. In April 2022, after completing her BSN degree with WGU, she was promoted to Charge Nurse. 

Born in Mission Hills, California, Priscilla spent the first 22 years of her life on 20 acres surrounded by a large family and busy workings of a rural ranch.

After learning many valuable life lessons and surviving a drought and forest fire, Priscilla along with her family, relocated to Sequim, Washington, in 2014 where they currently reside.

She enjoys traveling, hiking, cooking, and spending time with family and friends and is inspired by the quote from Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better... Then when you know better, do better.”

Rosa Ballenilla Mateo
Bronx, NY
B.A. Educational Studies

At the age of five, Rosa Ballenilla Mateo immigrated from the Dominican Republic with her family and faced challenges including learning and new language and a new culture.  

Rosa uses her own experience as an immigrant to help others find their way. Her commitment to helping kids enter a path to success in education is her greatest strength. Rosa earned her bachelor’s degree in educational studies in elementary education from WGU in 2022 and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in instructional design from WGU.  

Rosa resides in the Bronx, with her family and enjoys playing the piano and listening to vinyl on her record player in her free time.

Antonesha Lewis

She earned her BA in educational studies in elementary education from WGU and is currently pursuing her M.Ed. Instructional degree also from WGU. She is driven by her commitment to helping kids enter the path to success in education.

Master's Ceremony Graduate Speakers

Christine Jackson
St. Petersburg, FL
M.S. Management and Leadership

Chrissy Jackson has enjoyed a successful career in property and nonprofit management with the current responsibility of leading operations for a manufactured home community, three nonprofits, as well owning a consulting business.

Rhoda Chism

She is the author of three textbooks, more than thirty handbooks on property management, hundreds of magazine articles, and is an internationally recognized speaker for state and national conventions and private company training.

With a successful career, retirement brought the opportunity to address higher education, which she always felt was lacking. She received her bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College in 2016, master’s degree in management and leadership from WGU in 2020 and is currently pursuing a doctorate in business administration.

Living in St. Petersburg, Florida, she loves not shoveling snow, the gulf breezes, and an endless supply of books. Chrissy and her husband, Woody, just celebrated 20 years of marriage. Her passion, in addition to learning, is their blended family consisting of five adult children, 23 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren with two more coming this year.

Life, she says, is for living and loving.

Deirdre Dillon-McCarthy
Salisbury, MD
M.S. Special Education

Deirdre McCarthy-Dillon has been teaching for 11 years, choosing education as her second career. Born and raised in Ireland, Deirdre received her bachelor’s degree in Media and Cultural Studies from John Moores University in the United Kingdom. She emigrated to the United States soon after.

Melanie Kerr

Deirdre believes our most vulnerable members of society are also our most valuable, and how we advocate for and include our special needs population directly mirrors our own sense of community.

She and her husband, John, are raising three children: Liam, Cian and Roan. In her free time, Deirdre enjoys writing, binge watching period dramas and teasing and being teased by her children.

National Anthem Singer

Bachelor's Ceremony | Sean Gilbert

Sean Gilbert
Ludington, MI
B.S. Data Management / Data Analytics

Sean Gilbert has been sharing his artistic talents with his community for two decades as a saxophonist, vocalist, and actor. He competed in the 2013 Voice of McDonald’s singing competition, earning a place as a U.S. top 25 semi-finalist.

Completing his bachelor’s degree in data management and data analytics from WGU in 2021, Sean works as a data specialist with West Michigan Community Mental Health. In this role, Sean helps maintain and improve data systems used to coordinate and provide mental health services to the community. His degree from WGU has been instrumental in securing and excelling in his role.

Sean, his wife and son live on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan.

Janelle English

Master's Ceremony | Karlene Anderson-Wilson

Karlene Anderson-Wilson
Jamaica, NY
M.Ed. Instructional Design

Karlene Faith Anderson-Wilson is a passionate singer, songwriter, and performer. She has diligently trained in gospel music, classical music, and Italian arias. Driven by her love for children, she began her teaching career in 2017 while infusing her love for music in the classroom.

Along with being a classroom teacher, Karlene helped establish a performing arts program at her school in Southside Jamaica Queens. Outside of the classroom, she runs a young women’s ensemble and performs on a weekly basis at Purpose Life Church. Karlene is proud to have earned a master's degree in Instructional Design from Western Governor’s University.

Janelle English