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 .
* 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: .