UOPX graduates celebrate via livestream in 2020’s second virtual commencement ceremony
Former WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie’s virtual message to University of Phoenix’s Class of 2020 was sage advice for moving forward as leaders in unprecedented circumstances: Embrace the same humility and commitment to others that drove you to complete your degree in the first place.
“As a student, I regularly felt like I was putting everyone and everything before myself,” Leslie told the more than 2,200 graduates during the live-streamed YouTube ceremony on Sept. 12. “But in the end, that sacrifice, that humility, shaped me in ways that have defined my life forever.”
Leslie knows what it’s like to be a working adult balancing a career and a life at home while also taking courses. She completed her MBA at University of Phoenix in her final season with the Los Angeles Sparks, playing in her last Olympic games, writing a biography and being a mom to her daughter.
It’s a juggling act Leslie said she knows most Phoenixes can identify with, as are the characteristics of humility and selflessness. These same characteristics are what will help people come together to bring an eventual end to the pandemic and the civil unrest that faces our country today by standing up for what’s right for others, Leslie said.
“Let us lead the way by showing what it means to be a Phoenix, what it means to put others before ourselves,” she said.
The University’s commencement ceremony—the second virtual graduation event since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic—logged thousands of attendees.
Let us lead the way by showing what it means to be a Phoenix, what it means to put others before ourselves.
— Lisa Leslie, former WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist
In addition to Leslie, guest speakers included UOPX Faculty Member of the Year Recipient Robert Bowman, and Dr. John Woods, chief academic officer and provost.
Bowman congratulated the graduates on behalf of the 4,500 UOPX faculty across the world who, like him, have watched and cheered proudly as their students succeed, reach their goals and change their lives for the better.
“As faculty, we’ve watched as you never gave up. You’ve reached your educational objective of earning your degree and you never gave up,” Bowman said. “As faculty, we’ve seen some of you face tremendous obstacles, yet you never gave up.”
From military service to illness to unexpected stops and starts in life, Bowman said the faculty has seen students persevere.
The ceremony ended with the conferral of degrees. In place of students walking across the stage to receive their diploma, a conferral card flashed on the screen showing the graduate’s name, degree, a photo and an inspirational quote.
As the names rang out, the conferral cards flashed one after the other, the live cheering section in the live chat continued to send messages of encouragement and thanks, like “Fly, Phoenix, fly!” “Go mama!” “Grandma worked hard for this!” and “Thank you for telling me ‘You can do this,’ over and over.”
The virtual commencement ceremonies offer an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates in an interactive environment and to send the Phoenixes off to their next phase.
“It’s an honor to be part of your journey and it’s a gift that has kept me and all faculty committed to the University of Phoenix for years, decades for some of us,” Bowman told the graduates. “It is unlike any other place, and when you experience it, you know how special it is, just like all of you. We congratulate you, and remember—never give up.”