Student Speakers Announced for Summer 2016 Commencement

Summer 2016 Commencement is underway and we are excited to welcome so many of our graduates, alumni, and their families to Salt Lake City, Utah this week! With over 8,000 graduates, we've heard many amazing stories of perseverance and hard work. Four of these stories will be shared with you all at the commencement ceremony on Saturday, July 16th, 2016.

WGU is proud to announce our student speakers for 2016 with hopes of inspiring others to strive for their best, lead with courage, and to never give up. 

Sarah Biermann, M.S. Nursing - Education

Lansdale, Pennsylvania

Sarah married her high school sweetheart at the age of 18 and moved to New York City with plans of pursuing a career on Broadway while her husband went off to serve in the Navy. Soon after her arrival in the Big Apple, Sarah received news that she was expecting the couple’s first child. She faced struggles as a young mother and recalls the day they were completely out of formula and diapers, feeling hopeless with only 36 cents in their bank account. Determined to improve her situation, Sarah decided right then and there that it was time to pursue a college degree. After earning her bachelor’s degree in 2013, Sarah began working as a nurse in an addiction center with long-term plans of becoming a nurse educator. She enrolled in WGU’s M.S. Nursing – Education program the same year and now utilizes the skills she has obtained at WGU to help educate those she works with. This degree will help her achieve her dream of working as a nurse educator in the future.

Ronald Buie, B.S. Health Informatics

Slidell, Louisiana

Although Ron has now completed his third degree, his B.S. Health Informatics is the first that meets a growing need in the country for more health informatics professionals. After spending the last few years in Korea working in healthcare as an acupuncturist, Ron wanted to return to the United States and tackle this newly found career path in health informatics. He thrived in WGU’s self-paced model while interning with the Louisiana Public Health Institute. This fall, Ron will begin the health informatics master’s degree program at the University of Washington.

Donna Law, B.S. Business Management

Cedar City, Utah

Right out of high school, Donna began a career with SkyWest Airlines and worked her way up to become the marketing director. When she was newly married both her and her husband were laid off from their jobs in the same week. They settled in Cedar City, Utah, where she volunteered with the Shakespeare Festival for a year before being hired as their marketing director. Donna enjoyed career success but could only advance so far without a degree and with the encouragement of her employer, she enrolled in WGU’s business management degree program. In the middle of her studies she was diagnosed with cancer, but Donna wasn’t going to let that stand in her way of earning a degree. She continued on and entering her 3rd term at WGU was deemed cancer-free. Thanks to her degree she is now the Executive Director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service at Southern Utah University.

Amanda Lisonbee, B.A. Special Education

Kimberly, Idaho

Amanda’s story is a classic yours, mine, and ours story. With three kids of her own, she met and married a man with three kids, and they together had three more kids. A few years ago, her husband was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident and Amanda became the sole provider for her large family. Amanda knew that without a degree it would be difficult to provide stability and she started researching flexible options. She found WGU and thanks to the help of her community, family, and WGU mentors, she was able to complete the program and recently obtained a teaching position in special education at an elementary school.

If you would like to watch the WGU 2016 Summer Commencement on Saturday, July 16, 2016 AT 9:45am MST, CLICK HERE


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