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Commencement 2016
Alumni Spotlight
Graduation Celebration
University Marketplace


Volume 6  |  Issue 4

October 2016



The Western International University® (West) Class of 2016 was celebrated at our 35th annual Commencement on September 17 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Highlights of the commencement ceremony included keynote speaker, Cecilia Mata, founder and president of defense-related company AllSource Global Management LLC, and an inspiring speech on the value of education by Angela Garmon, Bachelor of Science in Management* graduate (also featured in our Alumni Spotlight, below).

Also honored for their contributions to the university were two of West’s professors: Dr. Raj Parikh received the President's Award and Aubrey Clinch received the student-nominated Distinguished Faculty Award.


Cecilia Mata grew up in the Republic of Panama and spent 20 years in international business before relocating to the United States in 2000. She recounted her experiences of rebuilding her professional life in a new country, inspiring our West grads with her advice to assume their role as architect of their own destiny with each and every choice they make. In addition to her extensive success in business, Ms. Mata has been honored with many awards in recognition of her civic contributions. Most recently she was named 2016 Minority Owned Small Business Champion of the Year for the State of Arizona Small Business Administration and 2015 Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Above and Beyond Award from the Department of Defense.

In her address to the Class of 2016, Ms. Mata related key lessons that have helped her achieve success, including eliminating distractions that can lessen your focus on your goals and making daily choices that move you on the path toward your goals. “You are the architect of your own destiny….you have the ability to change the course of your future and your life,” she explained. “Change is successfully accomplished by enacting your vision through action, and passion for what you do is the fuel that keeps you moving forward.”

Like many West students, the Class of 2016 student speaker Angela Garmon started her college education fresh out of high school, and then life intervened. Although Angela felt she had done well in her career, it was when urging her daughter to go to college that she realized, “How could I tell my daughter that she had to go to college, when I myself did not complete what I had started?” She explored West at the suggestion of her manager, and the rest is history. While speaking to her fellow grads on the value of education, Angela offered this advice: “We can impact the world one person at a time, if we remain cognizant of the power we have to make our communities better, to propel those around us forward, encouraging others to take their lives to the next level by sharing our stories and our dreams, by instilling values in our children such as love for mankind, respect for others and the value of education, and then by holding each other accountable, making dreams come to fruition.”

West is proud of the dedication and commitment displayed by all of our faculty members, and we are pleased to honor two individuals each year at Commencement with our Distinguished Faculty Award and our President’s Award. The Distinguished Faculty Award is selected from faculty nominations by all active West students. Students are asked to nominate a professor who exhibits exemplary performance in the classroom that inspires and supports students. This year’s recipient, Aubrey Clinch, thanked West students for their support and encouraged our Class of 2016 to share their new knowledge with others, saying, “What you have now, you can impart to others to even become greater.” The President’s Award is selected from nominations by West administrative staff and is awarded to a faculty member who exhibits a strong commitment to students and to furthering West as an institution. The award recognizes the spirit of cooperation between university administration and faculty, as well as the additional time and effort instructors contribute toward our continual pursuit of institutional excellence. Dr. Raj Parikh, President's Award recipient for 2016, also expressed gratitude to the university staff and urged the new graduates to apply their academic success to all areas of life, saying, “Success is a repeatable process, so let your journey be a life lesson.”

To view the full commencement ceremony, visit https://youtu.be/ANHvXEDZ-lo. Cecilia Mata's speech can be found at marker 4:45; Aubrey Clinch's remarks are at 23:25; Dr. Raj Parikh's remarks are at 27:15; and Angela Garmon's speech is located at 33:50.

* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs, and other important information, please visit: http://west.edu/online-degree-programs.

Tracy Lorenz

Founder & CEO
ARG Coaching & Consulting Group, LLC
Gilbert, AZ

Like many West students, Class of 2016 student speaker Angela Garmon, Bachelor of Science in Management,* originally began her college education fresh out of high school, and then life intervened. According to Angela, “We all have a story to tell, and our stories can positively impact the lives of those around us. Chances are if you reflect and look in the rearview mirror of your life, there were probably several pivotal moments that led you to where you are today. Life is filled with these moments, and these moments strung together tell our stories.” Here, Angela shares some of her own story.


Why did you decide to pursue your degree, and why did you select West?
I had often thought about going back to school, but never committed. I felt that I was successful. Despite the fact that I did not have a degree, I held the position of Assistant Director of Finance and lead Six Sigma Green Belt at the hotel I worked for. It was when I talked with my daughter as she began high school in 2008 that the pivotal moment arrived. I had explicitly expressed to her that she had no choice but to complete her bachelor’s degree after high school. Fortunately, she questioned why I had never completed college, but she had to. That question changed my trajectory. As I completed my individual development plan for 2009, I ensured that school was part of that plan. My manager suggested that I take a look at several different universities and mentioned West as a viable option, since West was nearby. After researching several universities, I found that West best fit my needs. I also made this choice based on the personal connection that was made the day I went into the university to talk to an advisor. She sensed my anxiety and quickly put me at ease by patiently answering all of my questions.

What did you find most valuable about your West experience?
Completing both an associate and bachelor’s degree at West, I found that the university programs are comprehensive and practical. Each class offered the ability to quickly apply what I had learned to real-time situations at work and in starting my business. For example, my small business entrepreneurship course offered the opportunity to create and get valuable feedback on the business plan for my own company. Moreover, since I am in Arizona, I was able to participate in local West community service events and other activities hosted by the university. For distance learning students, West hosted events that were live streamed for those who wanted to attend remotely. All of these experiences permitted me to see that West values the students and the community. I appreciate Western International University for assisting me with making my dream come true. Some people questioned my choice of West because it is not a “traditional” university. And for those comments, my rebuttal is, I am not a traditionalist. Who says we have to fit a mold! West prides itself in being a university built specifically for working adults, and the knowledge that I have gained over the past few years at West is bar none. I could not imagine being part of any other academic community—a community that gives by partnering with programs like Junior Achievement, which is designed to inspire children to dream big and reach their potential, or Dress For Success, an organization that helps empower women by equipping them with the necessary tools to thrive in work and life.

What were the benefits to you of earning your degree?
I am a first generation college graduate who accomplished what I set out to do. Even though the degree itself will help me enhance my career, it stands for so much more. It shows my mom that she instilled the value of education in me and it did not fall on deaf ears. It shows my daughter that I am able to finish what I start—and I hope it also inspired her, since she has completed her associate degree and is now working toward her bachelor degree.

What are your plans for the future?
I’m completing a dual Master of Arts in Human Dynamics and Innovative Leadership* here at West, and I am committed to building the brand of my company, ARG Coaching and Consulting Group, LLC. Through the company, I am able to reach a broader audience. I am dedicated to leaving an indelible footprint on the lives of the people and organizations we support. I am excited as I begin this next phase of my journey and look forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

What would you tell a friend who is thinking of going back to school?
As I shared during the commencement ceremony, quoting Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” By getting an education, one can be an example for their friends, family and generations to come. If anyone is on the fence about earning a degree, I encourage them to move forward with their dream. There is nothing like seeing it through to fruition.

To view Angela's commencement speech, visit https://youtu.be/ANHvXEDZ-lo?t=33m50s.

* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs, and other important information, please visit: http://west.edu/online-degree-programs.

Angela Garmon


West alumni, faculty, Board of Trustees and administration members welcomed some of our newest honor society inductees and graduates from the Class of 2016 at a celebration reception at West’s campus on the evening before commencement. Nearly sixty people gathered to celebrate our grads' achievements and enjoyed refreshments along with camaraderie and networking. Our new grads and our professors appreciated the opportunity to meet one another face to face after working together in the online classroom environment. You can view the event photo album on our West Facebook page.

Graduation Celebration

University Marketplace

Did you know you can shop online, access special sales, and earn cash back from thousands of stores? Visit West’s University Marketplace, sign up, and start saving today! The site was recently redesigned with more helpful features, including browser add-ins that will highlight Marketplace savings in your web searches.


As a University Marketplace member, you'll be able to:
• Shop online and earn cash back from thousands of stores.
• Access special sales exclusive to University Marketplace members.
• Install a browser plugin (available for Chrome, FireFox, Safari and IE 9.0+) that highlights the stores where you can earn cash back in all your Google, Yahoo! and Bing searches, so you can shop and earn cash back without logging in to University Marketplace every time. It will also issue a friendly reminder when you earn cash back.
• Access print-at-home grocery coupons—select the coupons you want, and print!
• Whether you’re a West student, alumnus, faculty, employee, or more than one of the above, now you can access all your Marketplace deals with just one website and one login.
• Redeem your cash back by check or PayPal, or choose from a wide selection of gift cards, including Amazon.
• Shop for West merchandise under the Exclusives tab (and see sidebar)!
• Check the University Marketplace blog for interesting articles, retail insight, helpful shopping tips, life hacks and more!

How can I get started?
• Link to http://www.shopuniversitymarketplace.com and set your Marketplace bookmark. • Log in using your current username and password. (If you’ve forgotten your login, you can always reset it.)
• Go to the “My Account” tab and verify your account settings to ensure that your information and preferences are up to date.
• Start exploring the site, start shopping, and start SAVING!

Visit the FAQ link in the top right corner of the marketplace home page.

Keep checking in for new features, great deals and fun content!

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168 Hours – How are you investing your week?
Plan to join West at the Microsoft Store at Fashion Square in Scottsdale, AZ on Thursday, November 17 at 5:30pm MST (or online, too!) for an enlightening session on taking your personal effectiveness and productivity to the next level. Presented by West’s own Vice President of Marketing, Chris Hewitt, this is an event you won’t want to miss! Join us for networking and refreshments, an engaging and informative topic, and a “get-your-holiday-shopping-started” discount on Microsoft store purchases for attendees. This is a great opportunity to learn something new and check out some of Microsoft's latest products including HTC's Vive virtual reality experience. Watch your email in late October for complete details.

Take a moment to visit our new microsite and catch up on the latest in our 7-part series from Human Resources and Diversity & Inclusion Leader Linda Garza Kalaf: Yes You Can! 7 Strategies to Empower, Evolve, and Transform Your Life. west.edu/now offers compelling and engaging content from our West community members on a variety of relevant topics concerning business, globalization, personal interests, education, and more. If you would like to contribute an article, email hue.haslim@west.edu.

Now through December, you can order West merchandise and get 20% off online orders of $30 or more! Start Shopping Now

Savings for Alumni & Referrals

West offers our graduates who enroll for a new West degree program—and new West students referred by a West grad—a tuition reduction of $250 per course, upon successful completion of each of your first eight courses ($2,000 maximum).** Just make your introduction, and we'll take care of the rest.

Hue Haslim
Alumni/Career Resources &
Senior Director, University Engagement

602-429-1078 or hue.haslim@west.edu

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




*For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs and other important information, please visit: http://west.edu/online-degree-programs

** New students who have not attended a Western International University (West) course in the past 365 days and are referred by a West graduate, as well as West graduates enrolling for a new West degree. Western International University is unable to enroll residents of Massachusetts. Certain programs are not available in all locations. Please verify program availability with a University representative.

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