WGU’s Graduating Class of Winter 2013


Another commencement, another record smashed.

The 24th commencement ceremony at WGU—coming up this week, February 9, in Atlanta—celebrates, once again, the biggest class in our history: 4,134 graduates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and overseas military personnel!

That’s right—this graduating class is more than 4,000-strong, far surpassing summer 2012’s record-setting 3,235.

Commencement is being held in Atlanta for the second time—we were there in February 2012 as well—in an effort to increase the opportunities for WGU’s students on the East Coast to join us. After all, as a nationwide online university, we don’t often have the chance to hang out in person.

Commencement attendees will gather in the Philips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, to watch the estimated 375 graduates from 36 states and as far away as Japan expected to show up to walk. They will also hear from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and four members of this winter’s graduating class (read on to meet them, below).

Some facts about this graduating class:

  • 2,596 undergraduate and 1,538 graduate degrees will be awarded.
  • Degree distribution by college:
    • College of Business – 1,008
    • College of Healthcare Professions and Nursing – 1,366
    • College of Information Technology – 437
    • Teachers College – 1,323 (1,248 of them are degrees leading to licensure as a teacher)
  • The average age of the graduates is 39; the youngest grad is 17; the oldest is 74.
  • 67% of graduates are female; 33% are male.
  • 41% represent the first generation in their family to complete college.
  • The average time to graduation for bachelor’s degrees is two years, one month. The average time to graduation for graduate programs is one year, 11 months.

The graduates chosen to represent their class as commencement speakers are:

Chris Dann

Commencement Speaker Chris Dann

Chris is a B.S. in Information Technology graduate from Port Orange, Florida. He’s an employee of a state university in Florida, and he has long dreamed of finally earning his IT degree. But because he works at a satellite campus, earning his degree from his employer would have required long commutes from home to the main campus-an unrealistic barrier for a busy, working father of two teenage boys actively involved in high school sports. He thought his dream of a degree had been dashed until his boss told him about WGU—not just as a recommendation for Chris, but as the university where the boss himself was earning his degree. Now, Chris is graduating the same year that both of his sons are graduating from high school, and be students at the same time has been an important opportunity for Chris to be an example and mentor to his sons.

Monica Virgil

Commencement Speaker Monica Virgil

Monica, of Montgomery, Alabama, has earned her M.A. in Math Education. She was a full-time teacher, a wife, and a mother of two when she started her degree program. WGU was her third attempt at graduate school after two others failed to fit her busy life. She credits WGU’s mentor support system with helping her succeed in a program that was more rigorous and rewarding than she had expected it to be. She has used her teaching degree to help her start a chain of math tutoring centers for students from kindergarten through college.

Nicki Nelson

Commencement Speaker Nicki Nelson

Nicki is from Rochester Hills, Michigan, and graduated with a B.S. in Business–HR Management. At the age of 16, Nicki became a mother and dropped out of high school. Years later, after receiving a diploma in accounting from a local business college, she decided to return to school because her employment options were limited without a bachelor’s degree. A military wife and mother of three teenagers and two step-children, she worked full time as an HR manager to help support her family while earning her degree. Nicki’s future plans are to pursue an MBA at WGU.

Cora Edwards

Commencement Speaker Cora Edwards

Cora lives in Tampa, Florida, and is graduating with her M.S. in Nursing–Leadership and Management. With only the equivalent of a high school diploma, Cora came to the United States from the United Kingdom when she was 24 years old. She worked a variety of minimum-wage jobs while attending nursing school and caring for her family. She found WGU through a coworker and decided to pursue a master’s degree to further her career, despite caring for her two youngest children and working full time. She says WGU has made her into a truly capable candidate for a master’s-educated nursing role and she recently secured a new position as a Clinical Education Specialist at a facility in Tampa.

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