For the Reporter
Western Governors University (WGU) will celebrate the largest commencement in the university’s 25-year history this weekend as more than 10,000 students and guests gather Saturday, July 16 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle for commencement ceremonies.
A total of 1,485 students who have earned their bachelor’s and master’s degrees will participate in the in-person ceremonies. An additional 713 will join the virtual ceremony happening simultaneously. It is the greatest number of graduates ever for a WGU commencement, according to a WGU news release.
WGU Washington is based in Kent.
Approximately 63% 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. Many work full time and raise families while completing their programs.
“I’m so proud to join our graduates in celebrating their impressive accomplishments at this year’s record-breaking Seattle commencement at T-Mobile Park,” said Tonya Drake, WGU regional vice president and chancellor. “I’m also excited for the future as WGU continues its tradition of breaking traditions in higher education and creating new pathways to opportunities for adult learners through affordable, accessible, accredited online higher education. We’re just getting started!”
Since its founding by 19 U.S. governors in 1997, WGU’s Night Owl alumni have earned more than 275,000 degrees from the online, nonprofit, competency-based university – and more than 30,000 alumni have graduated from state affiliate WGU Washington. In honor of its 25th anniversary, the university is awarding $125,000 in “Next Generation” scholarships. Twenty-five scholarships each worth $5,000 will be awarded in 2022 (WGU 25th Anniversary Next Generation Scholarship)
Delivering the keynote address at this weekend’s commencement will be award-winning musician and composer Andrew Joslyn, who has worked with world-class artists including Macklemore, Kesha, Nancy Wilson (Heart), Leslie Odom Jr., Kygo, K Flay, ODESZA, Chase Rice, Duff McKagan, The Seattle Symphony, Judy Collins and many others. The Seattle native will speak to the power of perseverance in pursuing your dreams, a message that will resonate with WGU’s driven, resilient adult learners.
Four WGU graduates from the NW Region will also share their inspiring stories at commencement: Jordan Cowe (computer science degree), Brittany Thody (business administration degree), Constance Alves (business – human resource management degree and master’s in management and leadership), and Emily Bertholic (master’s teaching – mathematics education).
The ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m. During the ceremonies, graduates will use the hashtag #WGUgrad to share on social media how they’re celebrating.
WGU now serves more than 130,000 students nationwide and has nearly 280,000 graduates in all 50 states.