Four Inspiring Grads from the Class of Summer 2015

In the 15 years since Genevieve Kirch became WGU’s first graduate, earning her master’s degree in Learning and Technology from WGU’s Teachers College in December 2000, the online, competency-based university has grown.

A lot.

We’re on a mission to help working adults across the country earn the bachelor’s and master’s degrees they need but have yet to complete. We still have a long way to go—37 million adults with some college experience but no degree, and many, many more with an undergrad degree who would benefit from earning a master’s—but we have a lot of success stories to celebrate.

More than 50,000, in fact!

When we celebrate summer 2015 commencement this weekend—Saturday, August 15, at 10 a.m. MDT—we’ll be celebrating a graduating class of more than 8,500. It’s the class that, in July, pushed WGU over the 50,000-graduate mark! 50,000 lives changed, goals accomplished, dreams fulfilled.

50,000 in 15 years. Here are just four of those stories—your summer 2015 commencement speakers! If you can’t join us in person in Salt Lake City for commencement, be sure to watch live online. (If you’re reading this after the fact, check our YouTube channel for video.)

Iraida Guadalupe, B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies Brooklyn, New York Neither of Iraida’s parents went to college, but she always knew she wanted to—and she was encouraged to do so by their love and support. When she was in middle school, tutoring a second-grader as part of a mentoring program at her school, the boy read his first sentence, and she clearly remembers that as the moment that she knew she wanted to be a teacher. Becoming a mother delayed her academic dreams—but didn’t kill them!

Jennifer Evans, MSN–Leadership and Management
North Ogden, Utah
Jen wanted to be a truck driver, until she met a compassionate nurse who treated her in her teens at a time when it seemed no one else cared. Inspired to be that kind of a force for good in other people’s lives, Jen’s ambitions changed, and she decided to go into nursing. Since that moment, her career journey has been a series of challenges and opportunities that she felt unprepared to take on, but thanks to the support and confidence of loved ones, she has learned just how much she’s really capable of.

Andrea Petty, B.S. Marketing Management
Las Vegas, Nevada
As a kid, Andi was told, “You’ll never go to college.” As a young adult, she had a few false starts in her career, working in several positions in her father’s music company. She loved the work, but the struggles of being both coworkers and family caused some strains in the relationship, and Andi occasionally found herself having to start over in her career. Meanwhile, her younger sisters both earned emancipation from their mother and came to live with Andi. The responsibility of caring for her teenage sisters coupled with the uncertainty of her own life and career ambitions led Andi to a moment of truth: She needed her degree.

Chris Cox, B.S. Information Technology
Atwater, California
Chris found his passion for helping people solve their technology problems as a young man looking for career options that fit his interests and his abilities. Cerebral palsy has limited him physically, but not mentally, and with WGU’s technology-driven learning systems and the support of his family and his WGU mentor—himself an oral cancer survivor who was relearning to speak after surgery—Chris has been able to prove just how much he’s capable of.

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