DALLAS, Feb. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- In four short months, more than 13,000 students have graduated from Western Governors University (WGU), the nation's leading competency-based university. To celebrate their tremendous achievements, more than 1,000 WGU graduates and over 7,500 of their family and friends will gather at WGU's 76th commencement ceremony, to be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas on Saturday, February 22.
Some 557 undergraduate and 498 graduate students will walk at Saturday's ceremony. Graduates earned degrees in health professions and nursing, business, K–12 education, and information technology.
Olga E. Custodio, STEM advocate and America's first Latina fighter pilot, will deliver the commencement address. After serving 24 years in the U.S. Air Force, Custodio retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. Today, she works with several nonprofit organizations that advocate for inspiring and empowering students, especially those from underserved communities.
In addition to Custodio's address, two WGU graduates will share their stories. Addressing the undergraduate and graduate class are:
Sarah Williams of Springfield, Oregon, whose dream is to care for those who are underserved by becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, is graduating with her B.S. Nursing,
Pooja Sijapati of Irving, Texas, a first-generation American who's also the first woman in her family to receive a degree, is graduating with her M.S. Management and Leadership.
All of WGU's programs are competency-based—a learning model that focuses on measuring learning rather than time spent in class. This model, along with online access to courses, study materials, and proctored assessments, means students are able to complete coursework on schedules that fit their lives—not driven by a syllabus or class schedules.
The ceremony in Dallas will be the first of seven commencement ceremonies to be held across the country in 2020. In 2019, WGU hosted six commencements and celebrated more than 38,000 graduates.
Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves more than 121,000 students nationwide and has more than 172,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation's leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 22 years, the university has become a leading influence in the development of innovative workforce-focused approaches to education. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies, and has been featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and in The New York Times. Learn more at www.wgu.edu.