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Military Appreciation Month – Employee Spotlight: Mike Peterson, Ph.D.

Nov 20, 2023

Mike Peterson, military veteran and former community college professor, has worked for WGU for 10 years in various roles. Among the many things that Mike appreciates about his job, he explains that he loves the WGU mission foremost: “We change so many lives by what we do and how we do it. Two of my daughters are graduates of WGU. I also love how dynamic our work environment is. Rarely do I encounter the same things each day!”

Mike describes his journey to WGU, saying, “After I left active duty, right after 9/11, I started teaching CS, Math and IT courses at a community college. I taught at that level for a little over 10 years. One day, I saw WGU advertising Course Mentor roles back in late 2012 and was intrigued by the remote work opportunities offered.” Mike is now the Associate Dean and Director for WGU’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) program.

Mike feels strongly about the work he does at WGU and has had many impactful experiences during his time here. “I can’t pick just one–the first is working with a student who gave a commencement speech eight years ago and the second is helping a very disappointed and challenging student come around to see the benefits of our BSCS program, get a job before graduation and then come back and represent the program to our ABET accreditors. It just doesn’t get any better than that!”   

The Veterans Employee Resource Group for Everyone (VERGE) community provides Mike and other WGU staff with the ability to connect with veterans and their supporters. He describes the instant camaraderie in the ERG: “You find immediate trust with your sisters and brothers that have served. Being able to connect with other vets has been invaluable to me as we often speak the same language and have similar experiences.” About his colleagues in VERGE, Mike says, “I am also inspired by the folks in VERGE–the things they’ve seen and done and the things they continue to do. I am honored to call them coworkers as they really are rock stars!” 

Mike also remembers launching the computer science program in 2018, saying, “I had a team of four Program Mentors when we launched the program. Enrollments increased from zero to literally a thousand by the end of the third month.” The program now serves nearly 6,000 students and employs over 50 Program Mentors.

Inclusion and accessibility are at the heart of WGU’s mission. The BSCS program has made a college degree more accessible to students who may otherwise be unable to attend college. Mike explains that the BSCS program has a math prerequisite that can be difficult for some students to complete. “Many underserved students wanting to pursue a computer science degree need to meet this requirement but aren’t afforded the opportunity to take advanced math classes in high school–or can’t afford to take the class after graduation.” The BSCS program addressed this concern by partnering with WGU Academy and Reboot Representation to provide a free precalculus course for those that qualify.

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