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Part of Western Governors University

July 15 & 16 Commencement Weekend in Seattle

Bachelor's Ceremony

Master's Ceremony

WGU Commencement in Seattle 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 Speakers

Jordan Cowe

Jordan Cowe is a neurodiverse software engineer who loves a challenge. From becoming the world’s youngest Certified Wine Educator, to creating a system for teaching mindfulness using daily activities, and most recently learning to code and changing careers in under a year, Jordan enjoys finding ways to expeditiously complete difficult projects.

Along this path, Jordan is passionate about sharing his unique perspective and learnings with others – hoping that they can see the value of thinking differently. Whether it’s an employer questioning their existing systems, a neurodiverse person learning to believe in their own value, or anyone just embracing their own ways of thinking, Jordan hopes we all learn to ask, “why?”

Jordan is originally from Niagara Falls, Canada, and now lives in Issaquah, Washington with his wife and their pets. When not staring at a screen writing code or learning about something new, Jordan loves photography, adventures, visiting wineries, and spoiling a nice walk with a round of golf. A fun fact about Jordan is he and his wife once drove 1500 miles from Niagara Falls to Knoxville and back in three days to see an eclipse and hang out with red pandas.

Brittany Thody
B.S. Business Administration

Born in Southern California, Brittany Thody grew up in a small town in the Pacific Northwest where her family had moved in the late 1980s. She recalls her surfer dad taking the kids for rides on his motorcycle while her mom was usually busy in the kitchen making tamales or rolling tortillas.

Melanie Kerr

Being the middle child of five kept her plenty busy. Every summer, the entire family would travel to “SoCal” to visit their extended family. She recalls summers spent having pool days at her Grandma Becky’s or watching telenovelas with her Grandma Lucy, as her abuela translated what was happening. At 16, her life took a major turn when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. This pushed Brittany to excel in her education. She also got her first job and earned enough money to go on a mission’s trip to Mexico which sparked her love for travel and learning about other cultures.

After high school, and once her mother had beaten cancer, Brittany decided to put a pause on school, becoming a bank teller as her first step into the financial sector. Since then, she’s worked 10+ years in the banking industry and is currently a Manager in Secure Messaging for the state’s largest not-for-profit credit union. She sits as a board member for the local chamber and is a member of the chamber’s Cultural Development Committee. At her organization, Brittany is the Cultural Awareness Lead for the Latinx Employee Resource Group that focuses on outreach to the Latinx community. In 2014, she married the love of her life and in 2015, her and her husband uprooted their lives and moved to Tokyo to become ESL (English as a Second Language) Teachers.

Once Brittany and her husband moved back to the states in 2017, her mother’s cancer had returned and, in the winter of 2017, she lost her battle to cancer. To honor her mother, Brittany became determined to accomplish her biggest dreams, one of which being to finish her degree. In 2022, she finally achieved this dream and graduated with her B.S. in Business Administration and Management from WGU. For fun, Brittany enjoys spending time at home with her husband and two dogs, travelling, blogging, nature walks, reading, writing, binge watching shows, or hanging out with friends and family. She hopes to start a family of her own someday and continue her pursuit towards achieving her dreams. 

Master's Ceremony Speakers

Constance Alves
B.S. Business - Human Resource Management
M.S. Management and Leadership

Constance Alves wanted to live in Alaska ever since she was a little girl. In January 2010, she packed three suitcases and moved there. With no job and living in a hotel room, she was able to find a place to live within a week and within three months she was working on the North Slope of Alaska in the oil fields for BP p.l.c until November 2013.

Rhoda Chism

Constance is now the Accounts Receivable Administrator at Commercial Contractors, Inc. in Anchorage, AK where she has the privilege to not only grow in her current role, but also learn other roles in the company. She is currently writing a fictional novel and aspires to be a published author.

From driving 18 wheelers for 13 years, to working at Walt Disney World Resort, and traveling to many different countries, Constance has seen and done many things. She is passionate about traveling, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures. When fully retired, she would like to travel the world. She currently resides in Anchorage Alaska with her Miniature Schnauzer named Bella.

Emily Bertholic
M.A. Teaching, Mathematics Education

Though Emily Bertholic always dreamed of being a teacher, being a math teacher was at the very bottom of her list. In elementary school she tolerated math, in middle school she avoided math, and in high school she loathed math. With dismay she learned that her degree program required a statistics class. That statistics professor transformed Emily’s life with his core belief that every student can learn to understand math, enjoy it, and do it well. Upon completing that class, Emily vowed that she would become an excellent math teacher with the power to transform math haters, such as herself. 

Antonesha Lewis

20 years and seven children later, Emily has completed her M.A. Teaching, Mathematics Education degree and she is thrilled to be headed into the classroom this fall. Her graduation cap displays the supportive signatures of the 116 students she loved and taught during her demonstration teaching months. 

Emily enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering with her children’s marching band, choir, and other musical pursuits. When she has free time, she loves doing the biggest jigsaw puzzles she can find, watercolor painting, reading, and making music. She plays in a South American marimbas band with two of her children and sings in a ladies Barbershop quartet.


National Anthem Singer | Tralena Razor

Tralena Razor
MBA
Dayton, OH

Tralena Razor obtained her Master of Business Administration from WGU in May of 2022. Her interest in business was largely fueled by her professional background in business process and quality improvement. She has held roles such as Manager of Organizational Excellence, Operations Manager, and Quality Engineer in the IT Services and Automotive industries and currently works for a major healthcare system in Southern Ohio where she is a Process Excellence Project Manager, responsible for leading cross functional teams in making business and clinical process improvements to meet organizational goals. She also holds an Associate of Science in Engineering from Sinclair Community College, a Bachelor of Science in Management and Leadership from Capella University, and a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification from Southern New Hampshire University.

Along with process and quality improvement, Tralena has a passion for the betterment of women. She is the Women’s Director of The Chosen Church, where she seeks to provide tools and resources for women to live well, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. As a mindset coach, she is an advocate for all things authentic, encouraging women to abandon ways of thinking that have been influenced by culture, and to live from the truest version of themselves defined by God. She is a native of Dayton, Ohio where she currently resides with her three teenage sons. In her free time, she enjoys reading, journaling, and spending time with family and close friends.

Janelle English