Meet the Graduating Class of Summer 2014

This week, Salt Lake City is Night Owl territory!

WGU Grad

WGU's students, of course, live all across the country, but this week, a disproportionate number of them will be filling the streets of Salt Lake City, WGU's headquarters city and site of the online university's 27th semi-annual commencement!

WGU's summer 2014 commencement—Saturday, July 12, 2014, at EnergySolutions Arena in downtown Salt Lake—celebrates a class of 5,541 graduates from all across the country, as well as from U.S. military bases around the world. Nearly 850 of them are traveling to Utah, with about 5,700 of their loved ones, to celebrate commencement.

Here are some fun facts about the #WGUGrad Class of Summer 2014:

  • Of the 5,541 graduates, 3,085 undergraduate and 2,456 graduate degrees will be recognized.
  • Since its inception, WGU has awarded roughly 36,000 degrees.
  • The graduate traveling the farthest to participate in commencement is coming from Kahului, Hawaii.
  • Degree distribution by college:
    • College of Business – 1,473
    • College of Health Professions – 1,852
    • College of Information Technology – 673
    • Teachers College – 1,543 (1,465 of them are degrees leading to licensure as a teacher.)
  • The average age of the graduates is 39. The youngest grad is 20; the oldest is 75.
  • 65% of graduates are female; 35% are male.
  • 40% represent the first generation in their family to complete college.

For graduates, family, friends, and supporters who are not able to attend commencement in Atlanta, the entire program will be broadcast live via streaming video, beginning at 9:45 a.m. MDT Saturday, July 12, at At that link, you will also be able to see a video listing the names of all 5,541 graduates.

Our commencement speaker will be Ted Mitchell, U.S. Under Secretary of Education. You'll also hear from four amazing graduates who will share their inspiring stories:

Kara Nelson, Rexburg, Idaho

Commencement Speaker Kara Nelson

B.A. Special Education

Kara is a mother of three and never expected to wait until she was 38 and married for 19 years before earning her degree. Her family—especially her son with a learning disability—gave her a distinct purpose to return to school. Kara will begin her first full-time special-ed teaching job this fall at a school in her community.

Bliss Knight, Prescott, Arizona

Commencement Speaker Bliss Knight

MBA–Management> & Strategy

Bliss is a pilot and was the first woman to fly for the U.S. Forest Service. She teaches flying lessons as well as runs a ranch in Arizona. She enrolled at WGU so she could learn business skills to help her husband run his trucking business. During her coursework, her husband of nearly 30 years died. She credits her mentors at WGU with patience and encouragement to help her finish her degree. Today, she runs a 501(c)(3) dedicated to clean water and a for-profit business, both of which she created as part of her MBA coursework and capstone project.

Jenny Bascos, Riverside, California

Commencement Speaker Jenny Bascos

MSN–Leadership & Management

As an immigrant from the Philippines, Jenny began her career in Third World healthcare conditions; today she has fulfilled her dream of being an MSN working in a cutting-edge healthcare setting. Her capstone project at WGU focused on studying the role nursing staff plays in nighttime noise at her hospital and its impact on patients' recovery; the Shhh! Team that she participates on is making significant changes to nurses' behavior at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center. While a student at WGU, Jenny successfully balanced being a full-time nurse and full-time mom.

Jeff Rahmlow, Two Rivers, Wisconsin

Commencement Speaker Jeff Rahmlow

B.S Information Technology–Network Administration

Jeff had several false starts as a post-high school college student. Ultimately he felt he didn't need a degree and ended up working in manufacturing with "one life, seven mouths to feed, and zero opportunities." Father of five, his family made this sacrifice together and he refers to this degree as "our family's degree." He currently works doing server maintenance for a university in Wisconsin.

What's your #WGUGrad story? Read more about how you can share your thoughts, congratulations, photos, videos, and more in our WGU Social Media Guide for Summer Commencement 2014—and win prizes!

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