A Marion woman gave a commencement speech at Saturday’s graduation ceremony for Western Governors University, held in Salt Lake City.
Codie Sprinkle of Marion was among the commencement speakers for the ceremony for WGU and she also received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Sprinkle was chosen because of her perseverance to finish her teaching degree after her family suffered a house fire, according to a news release.
“She first pursued her career as a certified nursing assistant by enrolling in a school where she felt she was only seen as a dollar sign,” reads the news release. “Even so, she never expected her plan to change - that is, until she became pregnant with her daughter. That was the moment when she decided she wanted to become a teacher, so she enrolled at WGU.”
Western Governors University is a private, online institution for higher learning based in Salt Lake City and founded in 1997 by the governors of 19 states. More than 1,200 graduates from 43 states, Canada, the Northern Mariana Islands, and military installations overseas were recognized at WGU’s commencement in Salt Lake City, according to the news release.
Shortly after she enrolled at WGU, Sprinkle’s house caught fire, and she lost nearly everything. But with the encouragement of her mentor and others (including her students) and the scholarships she received from the university, she was able to successfully complete her elementary education degree, according to the news release.
“Codie is now in a position that inspires others to achieve and exceed their own goals every day, and she is enrolled in her second degree program with WGU,” reads the news release.
Sixty-four percent of students who graduated Saturday are from underserved populations – first-generation students, low income, rural residents and minority. As a large competency-based university, WGU courses allow students to progress at their own rate while measuring learning rather than time spent in class. The flexible model allows students who may otherwise not be able to put their lives on hold to earn a degree.
Because of WGU’s rolling model, the university holds graduations around the country every few months. Since its last in June, 5,319 students have earned credentials from the university, according to the news release.
Ken Jennings, all-time champion of the game show “Jeopardy!,” delivered the commencement address. Jennings is an author, computer scientist, and record-breaking game show champion, gaining folk hero status when he appeared on “Jeopardy!” in 2004 and won 74 games and $2.52 million – both American game show records, according to the news release.
In addition to Jennings, other WGU graduates shared their stories. Addressing the undergraduate class were Veronica Etier, from Mercer Island, Wash., who received her B.S. in business management, and Sprinkle from Marion. Addressing the graduate class were Karyn Halverson, from Payson, Utah, who received her M.Ed. in learning and technology, and Christopher Woods, from Indianapolis, Indiana, who got his M.S. in management and leadership.