SALT LAKE CITY – This weekend, Western Governors University (WGU) will celebrate the resilience and dedication of more than 600 new graduates who have earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in recent months. These graduates have persevered through a constantly changing environment brought on by the global pandemic and have emerged successfully from their programs with degrees in hand.
Since November 2021, more than 7,000 WGU students have completed their degree programs, joining more than 260,000 alumni who have graduated from WGU since its founding in 1997. Some 336 undergraduate and 330 graduate degree recipients from 46 states are expected to participate in Saturday’s ceremony.
Approximately 67% of the graduates come from at least one of the following historically underserved populations: first-generation college students, students of color, rural residents and/or low-income earners. Graduates earned degrees in business, K–12 education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing, and many work full-time and raise families while completing their programs.
“Under ordinary conditions earning a college degree is a notable achievement,” said WGU’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Marni Baker Stein, “Reaching this milestone is especially remarkable for our newest graduates because they did so while also overcoming many pandemic-related obstacles. This group has shown dedication, persistence, creativity and resilience. We are inspired by their accomplishment, and we are excited to celebrate this achievement with them.”
Delivering the keynote address will be best-selling author and “Divine Encourager” Darius Bradley Sr. The New Orleans native currently serves as CEO and co-owner of Full Ability Clothing, which advocates for the differently abled community. Bradley has shared his gift of encouragement by motivation coaching with groups and corporations like Walmart, semi-pro football leagues and hospitals, as well as public schools within the Houston metropolitan area. In his spare time, Bradley provides daily life coaching support for many community members, family and friends.
In addition to Bradley’s address, WGU graduate Damien Mills will share his story. Mills, a resident of Tacoma, Washington, discovered his gift of mentorship as a para-educator at a local middle school. When he secured a position at a program school for behavioral and emotionally challenged students, he leapt at the chance to become a licensed teacher. Mills plans to continue his pursuit of higher education opportunities and strives to find new strategies for providing equity in all classrooms.
Saturday’s ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. MST/12:30 p.m. EST and will stream live at wgu.edu/virtual. During the ceremony, graduates will use the hashtag #WGUgrad to share on social media how they’re celebrating.