West Alumni logo

Class of 2014
Alumni Spotlight
Upcoming Event!
Managers vs. Leaders
Think Outside the Box


Volume 4  |  Issue 2

June 2014



This year's graduation was, as student speaker Daniel Corcoran put it:

"An incredible day! A day that celebrates a milestone of accomplishment for the students, faculty, friends, mentors and family members."

Congratulations to all of this year's graduates who celebrated their commencement on May 17 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Highlights of the commencement ceremony included a thought-provoking speech by keynote speaker Nicole France Stanton, managing partner of Quarles & Brady LLP and Phoenix's first lady.

Two faculty members received awards for their outstanding contributions to Western International University® (West): Corey Pruitt received the President's Award, and Dr. Michael Miller received the Distinguished Faculty Award.


Nicole Stanton is a prominent attorney and active philanthropist, in addition to her role as Phoenix's first lady and wife of Mayor Greg Stanton. In 2012 and 2013, Stanton was selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in the area of Legal Malpractice Law. As "First Lady of Phoenix," she is leading a campaign to prevent bullying in Arizona. Her organization, StopBullyingAZ, recently hosted an anti-bullying summit for more than 300 Arizona educators. In her speech, Stanton urged the new graduates to use their newly acquired skills and knowledge to make a difference in their communities.

"The degree you are receiving places you in a unique position to lead and to serve. Use your degree to help advance causes that you are passionate about, and consider becoming a servant leader as part of your professional agenda," Stanton said. Stanton told the Class of 2014 that their communities need their leadership, and becoming a leader does not happen by accident.

"It is incumbent upon you and you alone to raise your hand, stand up, and say 'I want to make a difference–I want to be involved.' You are the ones responsible for creating those opportunities. Take time to serve on a non-profit board, get involved in your local school board or church, or even run for elected office," Stanton stated, "And begin to pay forward all that you have accomplished today."

Dan Corcoran echoed Stanton's remarks in his address to his fellow graduates, telling them that "Education can help you understand another culture, boost your career, boost your contribution to your community in ways you had never imagined…education can open doors, open hearts, open up the world, and open your mind to every possible opportunity. Education is power." He went on to say, "The value of education comes with what you do with that power, and how you share it. Whatever we do, we need to learn and continuously gain knowledge, and be responsible to help others as we have been helped."

To view the full commencement ceremony, visit http://youtu.be/92vzQg4wLHo. Nicole Stanton’s introduction and speech can be found at time marker 7:00; Dr. Michael Miller’s award and remarks are at 26:30; Corey Pruitt’s award and remarks are at 30:10; and Daniel Corcoran’s introduction and speech are located at 35:25.

2014 West Graduation

Mobility & Endpoint Management Sales Specialist IBM
Herndon, VA

As the student speaker for Commencement 2014, Daniel Corcoran, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Informatics,* talked about the power of education to open doors and enhance careers. He should know. During the course of his studies at West, Daniel describes his journey as going from "kind of coasting" in his career to leveraging his education to explore career opportunities. He also developed a sense of appreciation for all those who have contributed to his education throughout his lifetime — from his West professors to his grandparents — and realized how important it is to give back. "Learning is a lifelong responsibility not just to yourself, but to others, too," says Dan.


Why did you decide to go back to school?
I thought I was pretty smart, but I found out that I wasn't the smartest guy in the room any more. A supervisor asked me why I hadn't finished my college degree and told me I really needed to, because there were positions in the company that required it. So in the beginning, I was going back to school because it was something I felt like I had to do. It wasn't until about three classes in that I started to think that getting my degree is something that I really wanted to do.

What did you enjoy most about your West experience?
I liked the challenge, because it forced me to get out of my comfort zone. I also really enjoyed the instructors, because they'd say, "Here's what is going on in the world, and here's what you need to know." I had gotten so stagnant, and my instructors ignited the spark in me to learn.

How did pursuing your West degree help you explore other opportunities?
In my opinion, if I hadn't been pursuing my BS degree, I would not have been considered for the position I eventually got at IBM. My years of experience couldn't be the only deciding factor. I had attended community college 32 years ago, but never earned my degree. IBM wanted me to show them that I could finish something that I had started. They also wanted to know my GPA as well as my course level. If I hadn't pursued my degree and done well, I could have missed that opportunity.

What would you tell a friend who is thinking of going back to school?
Start with a class. Try it. Do it. You can do this. I was very challenged. It was tough, but it was worth it. West is a good choice — the quality of the education is very high, and there's a lot of flexibility.

What are yor plans for the future?
I want to earn an MBA.* It could open up a few more doors for me. Going back to school will keep me learning and growing. I also want to pay it back by helping others learn. There's always a way you can help someone. I plan on looking for volunteer opportunities, like tutoring kids. As I said in my graduation speech, the value of education comes from what you do with the power it gives you and how you share it.

To view Dan's commencement speech, visit http://youtu.be/92vzQg4wLHo time location 35:25.

Daniel Cororan


Why are some leaders so much more effective than others, and what can you do to hone your own leadership skills? On August 14, come join West's Department Chair for Business, Rob Wengrzyn, in an informal but intriguing discussion about what it takes to be a true leader and why good managers are not necessarily good at leading.

DATE: Thursday, August 14, 2014
TIME: 5:30-6:30 p.m. (MST)
Western International University
1601 West Fountainhead Parkway, Room 103 Tempe, AZ 
OR, join us online!
Event link will be provided upon registration.
PRESENTER: Rob Wengrzyn, Inside Sales Manager at Mobile Mini and West Department Chair for Business
RSVP/Register: laura.lee@west.edu

Complimentary refreshments will be served.

Before the event, think about true leaders you've encountered in your life, and consider sharing your story. What is it exactly that makes people leaders? Is it their personality, how they treat people, how they think, how they act? Do you have some of these same traits, or could you adopt them?

Rob chose to host this event because leadership is his passion. It's also the primary focus of his current doctoral studies. "So few people really understand what it takes to be a leader," says Rob.


During the event, Rob plans on sharing some of his favorite leadership quotes, like this one:

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” — Andrew Carnegie

As Rob discusses the characteristics of a true leader, he will explore the important role of charisma in getting people to buy into a leader's vision. "If leaders aren't charismatic, it's difficult to get people to follow them, no matter how great their vision is," explains Rob.

Rob notes that, interestingly, leaders don't have to have big titles. Sometimes an "informal leader" can emerge in a group and exhibit more leadership skills than the person in charge.

Do you have what it takes to be a true leader? Find out on August 14. RSVP now to laura.lee@west.edu

Rob Wengrzyn


If you manage 100 people on a daily basis, does that make you a leader? It depends on what you do, how you think and how you're viewed. The traits of a leader are different from those of a manager, but they're worth striving for, because they can turn regular employees into loyal followers.

Understanding the differences between managers and leaders is the first step toward becoming a better leader yourself.


Managers and leaders usually complement each other in an organization, but there are important differences between them. Managers tend to focus on the small details as they plan, implement and evaluate. Leaders tend to focus on the bigger picture, providing inspiration and a vision for the future.

In an article on The Wall Street Journal website,1 author Warren Bennis is quoted from his book On Becoming a Leader, in which he explains some of the following key differences between and characteristics of managers and leaders:

  • Managers: Administer; copy/imitate; maintain control; focus on systems/structure; ask how and when; watch the bottom line; have a short-range view; accept status quo; do things right
  • Leaders: Innovate; originate; develop trust; focus on people; ask what and why; watch the horizon; hold a long-range perspective; challenge status quo; do the right thing

If you end up being a better manager than a leader, that's OK. Good managers are the key to a company's success. See yourself as the executor of the vision. You may not have originated the vision, but you can play a major role in making it happen.

1Source: The Wall Street Journal (n.d.). What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership? Retrieved May 7, 2014 from http://guides.wsj.com/management/developing-a-leadership-style/what-is-the-difference-between-management-and-leadership//

managers vs. leaders


In today's job market, the competition is certainly fierce — but your strategic options for standing out are more plentiful than ever. You no longer have to rely on just your paper resume to sell yourself. You've got online tools and resources through West that can help you get noticed and get the job. So set aside any doubts or frustrations you may have had in your job search, and focus on a new plan of action backed by your own personal career coach, compliments of West.


A great first step is to get set up with OptimalResume.™ It's a complimentary suite of online tools West provides that will get you thinking outside the box in terms of how you can present yourself in fresh, attention-getting ways. OptimalResume includes:

Video Resume – This is the perfect way for you to supplement your paper resume. Potential employers can get a better sense of what you're like, and you can tell your story in a way that really makes it come alive.

Website Builder – Create a customized website to house your professional documents and links to your social networking profiles like LinkedIn® and Twitter®. Then index your site with major search engines, so it is more likely to come up during a search by hiring managers in your field.

Portfolio Builder – Put together an online gallery of your work to display on your website, share as a link or download as a zipped file. Upload any combination of documents, images, audio or video file types, and add a description if you want to give viewers some background.

More strategies that work
Beyond using OptimalResume, you can also further your job search objectives through:

Volunteering – Working pro bono for a good cause is a great way to expand your skills as well as your network. You can learn new skills, like launching a promotion or organizing an event. Volunteering can also expose you to a new field by letting you test the waters. Your non-paying job could lead to a paying job. And if you're in between jobs, volunteering is meaningful work that you can put on your resume to fill in the time gap.

Blogging – Maintaining a blog can be a very effective way for you to connect with like-minded individuals. You're creating a conversation, which can create connections and whole communities. Your blog can serve as a portfolio showcasing your talents, so prospective employers can see your work while reading your ideas. Don't forget to read the blogs of companies you're interested in, and leave thoughtful posts.

Expert professional support
Whatever path you take in creating a bolder presence in the job market, you don't have to go it alone. Utilize the complimentary career coaching opportunities that are available to you through West. You can work with a professional career coach who can do everything from give you feedback on your resume to help prepare you for an upcoming interview. To get started, log on to the West Alumni Connection website and go to the Fast Track Career Tools page.

Think outside the box
LinkedIn Facebook Twitter

On the day before the commencement ceremony, new graduates got together with West alumni and faculty to celebrate their accomplishments and connect with one another at a "meet & greet" event. After a few fun ice-breaking activities and West gear giveaways, the networking shifted into high gear. Kerri Christenson summed up the event this way: "It was great to put faces to the names of people from West at the Alumni mixer. As an online student, seeing their names a half dozen times in class after class, it was nice to finally meet some of my peers and professors."

Link up with the West alumni community on LinkedIn®, and you'll have an instant direct connection with other like-minded professionals. You'll be able to join or start a discussion, share your profile, track down valuable resources, find or post job leads, and more. Join us on LinkedIn now. Join us on LinkedIn now.

Tell us what's new in your world, and we could end up featuring you in an upcoming issue of this newsletter. Send us any news at all, from special projects and awards to new jobs and promotions. Feel free to include news from outside the office, too, like interesting places you've traveled, unusual hobbies or work you're doing in your community. Feel free to send along a photograph. We'll contact you prior to publishing your story. Share your news now at alumni@west.edu.

As you move, get married or make other changes in your life, remember to let us know. Simply update your West Alumni Connection profile whenever there are any changes in your contact information.

If you just graduated, welcome! Use your preferred email and the password "welcome1" to login and start taking advantage of all that the West Alumni Connection has to offer. Be sure to change your temporary password and update the information in your profile. If you have any questions, please email for assistance.

Laura Lee
Alumni/Career Resources Manager
602-429-1110 or laura.lee@west.edu

Alumni Reenrollment
866-948-4636 or inquiries@west.edu




*For program disclosure information, please visit: http://www.west.edu/online-degree-programs.

Western International University is a registered service mark of Apollo Education Group, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

Western International University, 1601 W. Fountainhead Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85282

OptimalResume is a trademark of OptimalResume.com.
Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.
LinkedIn is a registered trademark of LinkedIn Corp.
Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Western International University, Inc.; all rights reserved.