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Pride Month

Learn About How WGU Celebrates Pride Month


Every student is unique. We believe that your educational experience should be as unique as you are. We celebrate the differences in our students because we know that diversity brings strength—it's why we endeavor to be the most inclusive university in the world. WGU is bridging the gap between talent and opportunity.

We aim to recognize, support, and amplify students' voices while creating greater pathways to opportunities for students across the country. This focus drives us to offer high-quality, equitable higher education that is accessible regardless of your location or background. By putting degree opportunities within reach and improving access to learning, we advance equity for every student.

Join us as we celebrate Pride Month, and recognize how students and employees are making a difference in their communities around the country.

Student & Employee Spotlights

Pride Month – Employee Spotlight – Thomas Hall

Our Course Instructors don’t just teach; they also act as drivers for change here at WGU. One such trailblazer is Thomas Hall, an accounting professor in WGU’s School of Business, who, with an unwavering commitment to nurturing students and advocating for inclusivity, is shaping a more equitable future for all

Studen/Alum Spotlight – Cole Frandsen-Smith

Allies are individuals who may not identify as LGBTQ+ but actively support the rights and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals. Cole Frandsen-Smith recently earned a bachelor's degree in human resource management from WGU and credits his mom as one of his greatest allies and the person who helped him discover a whole new approach to education.

Pride Month Employee Spotlight: David Meade

LGBTQ+ Pride Month is celebrated each June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the continued work of fighting for equality and justice for the LGBTQ community. This Pride Month, WGU celebrates the story of David Meade.

The Art of Caring: Zack Johnson’s Story

Zack Johnson is the type of person who was born to care for others. For Zack, caring is not just a job, it’s his greatest passion.

"PRIDE Owls is an Employee Resource Group (ERG) dedicated to fostering a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment that also expands access and opportunity for WGU's LGBTQ+ employees and students. Since the LGBTQ+ community tends to be invisible and individuals can feel isolated, PRIDE Owls provides a forum formembers to connect andestablish a sense of safety and belonging while alsowelcoming our Allies and those looking to expand their understanding ofthe LGBTQ+ community. PRIDE Owls also provides education, resources, and advocacy in support of WGU's LGBTQ+ employees and students."

–WGU Pride Owls

Advance Equity Speaker Series

June 2024

When We Rise: My Life in the Movement

Join us for a conversation with Cleve Jones who is an LGBTQ+ activist and author of When We Rise. He will share his 50-year journey to becoming a hero of the LGBTQ+ community. Cleve has given a voice to the voiceless, organized the struggling and disenfranchise and inspired activists with his life stories of driving history-making change. Beginning with the electrifying atmosphere of 1970s San Francisco, Cleve will walk us through the Gay Liberation Movement, his mentorship by legendary activist Harvey Milk, the terrifying early years of the AIDS pandemic, and his own rise to the forefront of activism as co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and AIDS Memorial Quilt. He was recognized as a Champion of Change by President Obama and portrayed in an Oscar-winning film.

Speaker: Cleve Jones, Author & LGBTQ+ Activist 

Date: Thursday, June 27, 2024

Time: 11 am MT

Tonya Calilung (she/her) - WGU MSN Nursing Informatics Alumna

    Tonya Calilung started her RN-to-MSN program at WGU in Nursing Informatics as a bedside nurse. What she really loved about this degree was how it enabled her to, “be the data jockey and the geek that I am, and to learn how to speak the language of the people I’m working with to convince them to make needed change.” Tonya proposed to her WGU Program Mentor a capstone project to improve how patient data is captured from patients in the LGBTQ population. Although her mentor cautioned Tonya that the topic would present challenges from a research perspective, the mentor was highly supportive. Tonya’s thought was, “This data has to be collected, and it has to start at the hospitals.” Her objective was to create a plan that hospitals would be able to pick up and implement. She titled her project: “Breaking the Binary, It’s More Than Just Pronouns: Creating a Clinical Decision Support Tool as a First Step to Updating the Electronic Medical Record for Safer Transgender Care.”

    Tonya’s paper is meant to be Phase I. In her current role working in research in strokes and neurosurgical studies at University of Louisville School of Medicine, Tonya’s hospital mentor applauded her efforts and appreciated how her research opened her eyes. They are taking her work and trying to implement it in the hospital. Ultimately, Tonya’s objective is to keep this work going. “It’s life and death. It really does impact so many things, and doctors aren’t aware because they think, ‘It’s just their pronouns.’” Tonya will continue to integrate these concerns in her work, which affects both her university system and its third-party partners. Her hope is to achieve enough positive impacts and outcomes at her hospital that the work will spread to improve the clinical experience for nonbinary and trans patients. In closing, Tonya wanted to recognize her WGU mentor, Ashley Broadway, for her support throughout her program and her passionate advocacy for her capstone project. “I recommend WGU to absolutely everyone I can. I’ve never felt so supported.”

Visit the WGU Store

WGU Store: Pride Month

Celebrate Pride Month with WGU with our officially branded merchandise!

Alumnus Salomon Torrescano

2020 WGU graduate and commencement speaker, Salomon Torrescano, is no stranger to challenges. He’s faced foster care, working to accept himself as gay, substance abuse, addiction, and losing loved ones. He has transformed his life and is now working to help others overcome the challenges they face.

Scholarships Available for Affordable Education

Scholarships are one of the many ways in which WGU removes obstacles from your path to achieving your education goals and improving your career opportunities.

Rise Above Grant

This scholarship will be awarded quarterly to a new MSN or health leadership student at WGU who exemplifies the spirit and commitment to leadership.

Sage Scholarship

The Sage Scholarship is from our official spokesowl, Sage, for future WGU graduates. Apply by June 30th!

Learn Where You Live Scholarship

For students who want to pursue an education at WGU and learn where they live. Scholarship applicants must live in a rural area of the U.S. as is designated by the U.S. Census Bureau.