Online University WGU Texas Helps 556 Texans Earn Degrees in 2013
WGU Texas Hosts Second Annual Commencement Ceremony for Graduates
AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — For Michael Cole (Abilene), the journey to earn his Master of Science in Information Security and Assurance began in Texas and continued throughout four moves, including one to Afghanistan, and will end on Saturday, October 26, as he walks the stage at WGU Texas’ second annual commencement ceremony. Like all WGU Texas graduates, Cole’s personal journey to earning his degree is unique–but his story and the stories of his fellow graduates share the common themes of hard work, determination, and the need for a flexible, nontraditional university education that fits the life of a busy working adult.
Cole will stand on the Bass Concert Hall stage Saturday not only as a graduate, but also as one of the speakers at the second annual commencement ceremony of WGU Texas, a nonprofit, online university.
More than 200 of WGU Texas’ 556-member graduating class of 2013 will attend the ceremony, traveling from across the state to don a cap and gown and walk the stage in a formal conferral of degrees. In addition to four student speakers, including Cole, the event will include a commencement address from Greg Hartman, President of External Affairs of the Seton Healthcare Family.
“The employment landscape is changing dramatically in Texas, and the need for a highly educated workforce, especially in healthcare, continues to grow,” Hartman said. “WGU Texas offers an affordable, flexible solution for earning an accredited degree, and expanding access to higher education is critical to the economic growth of Texas.”
WGU Texas (http://texas.wgu.edu/) was established on August 3, 2011, by Governor Rick Perry with strong bipartisan support. It is the state’s only nonprofit all-online university. WGU Texas is designed to meet the learning needs of working adults through its innovative, competency-based, mentor-guided learning model. The average age of WGU Texas students is 37, and most students have families, work full time, and have completed at least some college credit when they enroll.
WGU Texas’ competency-based model allows students to apply prior education and experience to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they already have, moving quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. While students move through course materials at their own pace, faculty mentors provide continuous, one-on-one support. Tuition is charged at a flat rate of $2,890 per six-month term for most programs, no matter how many courses a student completes. Because they advance as soon as they demonstrate their mastery of subject matter, students on average graduate with a bachelor’s degree in three years, saving both time and money.
“Our commencement celebrates the 556 students who remained committed and dedicated to achieving their goal of earning a postsecondary degree, no matter the obstacles. Today there are more than 3 million Texans who have some college education but do not have a degree,” said WGU Texas Chancellor Ray Martinez. “The mission of WGU Texas is to make higher education affordable and accessible for all Texans, which helps improve and change their lives and lives of those around them. Our second commencement ceremony marks the graduation of more than 1,000 students since our inception in 2011, and we look forward to helping many more Texans cross the finish line and earn their degree.”
Enrollment at WGU Texas now stands at 4,000 students, with new students enrolling each month. WGU Texas graduates completed their coursework from 214 towns and cities across the state this year, and many are the first in their families to earn a university degree.
One of the four graduates delivering a commencement speech, Shakera Baxter (Mesquite), is the first in her family to earn a college degree. As a single mom to three young children, Baxter needed the flexibility and affordability of WGU Texas’ model to earn her Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics.
For many working adults, there was never enough time to return to college while taking care of their family and working. Graduate speaker Jacqlyn Jones (Lubbock) will share her story of returning to college to earn her Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management.
Graduate speaker Mark Rogers (Austin) felt time was running out to earn his master’s in teaching degree. He’ll speak to graduates and more than 1,800 family and friends commemorating the day about how to give yourself opportunities for advancement. Through the opportunities he gave himself, and with the help of WGU Texas and his mentors, Rogers earned his Master of Education in Learning and Technology, and will cap off the commencement celebrations by getting married that evening.
While students learn online with WGU Texas and graduate throughout the year–as soon as they’ve completed their coursework independently –the commencement ceremony allows students to share this significant victory in person with family, friends, and faculty mentors who supported their journey.
About WGU Texas
Established in 2011 by the state of Texas in partnership with nationally recognized Western Governors University, WGU Texas is a nonprofit, online university focused on expanding access to quality higher education for Texas residents. WGU Texas offers more than 50 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the high-demand fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing.
Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is regionally accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).* Learn more at texas.wgu.edu or call 1-877-214-7011.
*Western Governors University offers nursing programs that are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 5380, Washington, DC 20036, 202-877-6791).
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SOURCE WGU Texas