SEATTLE, WA (July 11, 2023) - In another milestone of its tremendous impact on Washington state and the nation, Western Governors University (WGU) will host its largest commencement event in school history at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. On Saturday, July 15, 2023, more than 1,900 graduates will be recognized, while more than 13,000 family, friends, and guests are expected to attend and join the celebration.
“Commencement is an opportunity to honor the accomplishments of our graduates and a reminder of the extraordinary power of education to shape lives and build brighter futures,” said Dr. Tonya Drake, Vice President of WGU’s Northwest Region. “The knowledge they’ve gained from WGU will allow them to grow in their careers and create better lifestyles for themselves and their families.”
WGU is an online, nonprofit university created to expand access to respected, in-demand bachelor’s and master’s degrees for, among others, working adults and traditionally underserved student populations. Among the graduates to be celebrated during the commencement event in Seattle, 66 percent are considered underserved, including first-generation college students and students of color. Their average age is 37 and many were working full-time and raising families while earning their degree. Washington is home to more WGU students and graduates than any other state in the nation.
The university will host two ceremonies on July 15: a morning event for those who’ve earned master’s degrees and an afternoon session for bachelor’s degree recipients. For both ceremonies, renowned sports broadcaster, author, and entrepreneur Jen Mueller will deliver the keynote address. Mueller will bring a wealth of experience and inspiration to the commencement stage. As the Founder and CEO of Talk Sporty to Me, she empowers individuals and organizations to enhance their communication skills through her dynamic coaching programs. With her exceptional expertise in broadcasting, Mueller has been a fixture in the region’s sports landscape for nearly two decades – providing insightful commentary for the Seattle Seahawks, Mariners, and Kraken. Earlier this year, the Seattle Sports Commission recognized Mueller with the Keith Jackson Media Excellence Award.
"Jen Mueller's remarkable career and her ability to connect with diverse audiences make her the perfect choice for our commencement ceremony," said Drake. "Her passion for communication and helping others succeed aligns perfectly with our mission of providing accessible, flexible, and high-quality education to students across Washington state."
During her keynote address, Mueller will share her personal journey and the lessons she has learned along the way. Her motivational insights will inspire university graduates as they embark on their professional journeys and pursue their goals in various industries.
"I am thrilled and honored the university invited me to be the keynote speaker," said Mueller. "It is a privilege to address a group of accomplished graduates who have demonstrated dedication and determination in their pursuit of higher education. I look forward to sharing my experiences and insights, encouraging them to seize opportunities and thrive in their chosen paths."
Four graduates from Washington will also share their inspiring stories during the commencement celebration:
· Francesca Capozzi; Redmond, WA; M.S. Data Analytics
· David Cinderella; Sammamish, WA; Master of Business Administration
· Thomas Fairchild; Everett, WA; B.S. Mathematics Education
· Lacey Junell; Tacoma, WA; B.A. Elementary Education
The ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m. PST and 1:30 p.m. PST. During the ceremonies, graduates will use the hashtag #WGUgrad to share on social media how they’re celebrating.