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May 24, 2021

WGU to Award 5,280th Degree in Colorado

Online university co-founded by Colorado Governor to address rural access issues and affordability celebrates milestone with $132,000 in scholarships

Mark Dimalanta Mark Dimalanta

DENVER – Western Governors University reached a “mile high” milestone this week with the 5280th graduate from Colorado. Mark Dimalanta is the recipient of a Master of Business Administration and will be celebrated as the University offers up to $132,000 in scholarships and a virtual 1-mile road race to mark the occasion. 

WGU will select 25 students for the 5,280 Milestone Scholarship to receive up to $5,280 toward any of the University’s more than 60 accredited degree programs from its Information Technology, Business, Teaching and Health & Nursing colleges. The scholarships are an investment in Colorado’s communities to further educational opportunities, especially for low-income, underserved and diverse populations.

“We are so proud of our Colorado graduates from all across the state,” said Corey Edwards, director of the Northwest Region. “From our first graduate back in 2004 to our most recent alumni the vision has been the same: to provide Coloradans an affordable option to get their degrees at their own pace. Today, we are witnessing the reality of the vision set by the Western Governors Association at a time when equity, affordability and online access is driving the future of higher education. There is much to celebrate, and there is also much more work to be done.”

In 1997, Colorado Gov. Roy Romer led 18 other states in a Western Governors Association meeting in founding WGU in the Mile High City with the vision for an affordable, accessible education based on a competency learning model. Now, 24 years later, WGU is the nation’s largest accredited online nonprofit university with more than 2,500 Colorado students and 130,000 students nationwide.  

With this milestone, WGU is ready to continue elevating communities and individuals across the state. The original vision has grown into 5,280 changed lives and these newest 25 scholarships are an investment in the next generation of WGU students. Learn more about WGU’s 5,280 Milestone Celebration Scholarship.  

Dimalanta’s MBA is his second master’s degree from WGU. His first, Cybersecurity & Information Assurance, was earned in 2017. Currently, he is an Information System Security Manager at a global security company. Dimalanta has worked in the ISS sector for more than a decade working on Department of Defense and Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance systems across three continents including: cybersecurity, certification and accreditation, system administration, site installations and real-world mission operations.

“I enjoyed the journey,” said Dimalanta of achieving his second masters. “I have a thirst for knowledge and always try to improve myself. I already knew and understood what to expect from WGU after the first time around.” Dimalanta noted, “If you believe in yourself, you can achieve it. I’m very grateful and thankful for the school, it’s not just helped me provide for my family, but it’s gotten me to where I am today.”

WGU was able to surprise Dimalanta during a special virtual presentation to celebrate his accomplishment and its historical connection to WGU’s Colorado history. “I have goose bumps,” Dimalanta said of the unexpected news he was the 5280th graduate. 

As part of the milestone celebration, WGU will host a virtual 1-mile road race (one foot for each graduate) commemorating the journeys of all 5,280 Colorado graduates. Alumni, students, friends, family and community members are invited to complete their mile at their own pace and place anytime between May 28th and June 4th. 

To register, go to www.wgu.edu/5280MilestoneCelebrationRace. Participants are encouraged to capture their mile with images posted to their social media channels or the WGU platforms using the hashtag #5280Scholars.

Although the event is free to participate, funds are being raised for WGU’s Emergency Fund through optional merchandise sales. Recently, $45,000 of these funds were awarded to more than 90 Colorado students who were in need of support. 

For more information about WGU and its degree programs, visit www.wgu.edu/Colorado.

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Leslie Reed, Director, External Communications
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