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Part of Western Governors University

April 8 & 9 Commencement Weekend in Phoenix

Bachelor's and Master's Ceremony

WGU Commencement in Phoenix Keynote | Juju Chang

Christine Ha

One of the most prominent Asian Americans in broadcast news, Juju Chang is the Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News Nightline and a regular contributor to Good Morning America and 20/20. With the rise of hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, Chang leveraged her platform to become a much-admired champion of social change. She made U.S. broadcast history co-anchoring the 2021 ABC News Live special, Stop The Hate: The Rise In Violence Against Asian Americans alongside fellow Korean American co-anchor Eva Pilgrim and a cast of AAPI journalists, thought leaders, lawmakers and celebrities. Chang also reported from the scene at the mass shootings at three Asian-themed spas in Atlanta, co-anchoring the ABC News 20/20 breaking news special, Murder In Atlanta.

Chang’s highly visible reporting on Asian Hate is the culmination of decades of covering everything from natural disasters to terrorism, mass shootings, immigration, violence against the LGBTQIA+ community and, most recently, the inequities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Known for her in-depth personal narratives and long-form storytelling, Chang has won acclaim for stories with underlying themes of civil and women’s rights and social justice. These include her critical examination of the controversial “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy, which she told through the eyes of one pregnant woman and her family living among the 60,000 asylum seekers camped for months along the Rio Grande. 

Her award-winning report, “Trans and Targeted” on violence against transgender women of color was the latest of a series of stories on the targeting of LGBTQIA+ Americans, including a GLAAD award-winning report on Matthew Shepard’s murder. Internationally, Chang has been a powerful voice on gender-based violence, including a trip through Central Africa on the front lines against Boko Haram and #bringbackourgirls. She also traveled to Honduras for “Femicide: the Untold War,” an eye-opening look at rampant violence against women.

In addition to reporting, Chang has profiled newsmakers like Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg; entertainers such as Tom Hanks, Chris Pratt and Nicki Minaj; and social media moguls Kendall Jenner and Dude Perfect.

An ABC News veteran, Chang joined the network as an entry-level desk assistant in 1987 after graduating with honors from Stanford University. Prior to her current roles at ABC, she was a producer for World News Tonight, a co-anchor on the overnight show World News Now and news anchor for Good Morning America. Chang’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including multiple Emmys, Gracies, a DuPont, a Murrow and Peabody Awards.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Northern California, Chang is member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a founding board member of the Korean American Community Foundation.

Graduation Ceremony Student Speakers

Tanya Barnes
B.A. Elementary Education
Bachelor's Graduate Speaker

Growing up, Tanya Barnes did not enjoy school and struggled academically. Because of those struggles, Tanya decided to forego a college degree after high school. She later discovered that having a degree was crucial to reaching her dreams of helping students like her younger self reach their full potential.

Scott Emmons

Tanya, who received her Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education degree from WGU in January 2022 has always worked with children, but decided she wanted to be a teacher after working at an elementary school as a para in the special education department. It was here that Tanya realized she had the potential to reach and help students who struggle and do not find school easy – just like her younger self.

With her degree in hand, Tanya pursued a career in education helping students reach their full potential. She believes all students are capable of success when given the proper tools and encouragement. Every student, she says, needs a cheerleader in their corner and Tanya cannot wait to cheer on her students to success.

LaKieshia Owens
Indianapolis, IN
Master's Graduate Speaker

LaKieshia Owens works as a billing specialist supervisor for Herff Jones and earned her MBA from WGU in December of 2021. Born and raised in Indianapolis, LaKieshia is ready to leverage her post-secondary education to excel in her career.

Antonesha Lewis

A single mother to four children, LaKieshia is also a grandmother. She enjoys brain teasers, singing, crafting and most things related to numbers. She enjoys accounting, analysis, math, budgeting and shopping.

National Anthem Singer

Katie Jane Hoey-Childs
M.S. Management and Leadership

Katie Jane Hoey-Childs, who earned her Master of Science in Management and Leadership from WGU in October of 2020, has worked in healthcare for nearly 18 years. She previously earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Diagnostic Imaging from the University of Wisconsin and her A.A.S. in Radiologic Technology at Lake Superior College. For many years, Katie has worked as a Registered Radiologic Technologist and recently landed her “dream job” as an office manager for Radiologists Associated in Duluth, Ltd.

Living in Minnesota with her son Gabe and husband Matt, who are inspirations, Katie enjoys performing in the community theatre, singing and playing piano at church. Family time is spent hiking, traveling, fishing, kayaking and turkey hunting.

Janelle English