AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 29, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For the past six years, WGU Texas has significantly grown the number of college graduates in the Lone Star State by offering high quality, competency-based, online education that is affordable and accessible for non-traditional students. Since the university's launch in Texas in 2011, more than 7,100 graduates have earned their undergraduate or graduate degrees, helping address the state's critical workforce needs in high-demand fields such as IT, healthcare, business, and education.
On Saturday, Sept. 30, 1,995 Texans will join the ranks of WGU Texas alumni, during the university's annual commencement ceremony at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin where graduates, along with their friends and family will cheer them on.
"Today, many Texans juggle full-time jobs, family responsibilities, and limited budgets, making higher education something that's simply out of reach," said Dr. Steven Johnson, WGU Texas Chancellor. "We've helped change that as WGU Texas continues to deliver high-quality higher education solutions that meet the needs of our diverse Texas population. This year's graduates are a strong testament that higher education is within reach."
Just as Texas is diverse, so are this year's graduates:
- Nearly 40 percent are first-generation college graduates.
- The average age is 40 years old, the oldest graduate is 85 years old, and the youngest is 20 years old.
- From this class, the average time to complete a bachelor's degree was two years and seven months, while completing a master's degree took about one year, nine months.
Dr. Marni Baker Stein, who joined WGU in August as Provost and Chief Academic Officer, will deliver the keynote address and closing remarks. In addition, the WGU Texas Commencement ceremony will feature four graduate speakers:
Toni Marek (Victoria) is a single mother who served eight years in the Army Reserves, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Northeastern University as the only student in her graduating class to earn a 4.0. Marek, who earned her MS in Management and Leadership, landed her dream job as a patient experience director in a local hospital. Marek says, "I don't dream of success; I earn it."
Rachel Blust (Pflugerville) is a psychology buff who loves the behavioral side of education and teaching. Blust, a special education teacher, described WGU Texas as a "great fit" for those juggling work, family, and other commitments that may make traditional brick and mortar universities more difficult to attend. Blust earned her B.A. in Special Education and is student teaching.
Clinton Metu (Houston) is Nigerian-born, arriving in the U.S. when he was seven. After attending a health care magnet school in Houston, his family encouraged him to pursue a health care career. But, it was clear that Metu's passion and future rested in computers and technology. Metu said, "WGU Texas treated me like an adult and a professional, and the acceleration of the program helped me meet my academic goals." Metu earned his B.S. in IT Security.
Christopher Ray (Mesquite) went from truck driver to nurse. After dropping out of high school, Ray married at 19 to start a family. WGU Texas helped Ray pursue his dream of a B.S. in Nursing, and earn a promotion to ER charge nurse at a Dallas hospital. He is most proud that his WGU Texas capstone project idea on roles and values in the ER was implemented in his workplace. Ray plans to pursue a Family Nurse Practitioner program.
Follow the 2017 Commencement online using hashtag, #WGUTX17.
For information about WGU Texas degree programs, please visit http://texas.wgu.edu.
About WGU Texas
WGU Texas is an online, nonprofit, competency-based university established to expand Texans' access to higher education throughout the state. Formed through a partnership between the state of Texas and nationally-recognized Western Governors University, WGU Texas is open to all qualified Texas residents. The university offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the high-demand career fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing.
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SOURCE WGU Texas