I was pleased and proud to have been on hand last weekend in Chantilly, VA during our 2009 commencement ceremonies to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of more than 2,800 APUS graduates. (To see a compilation video from the ceremonies, click here.) American Public University System (APUS) granted 1,252 Graduate degrees, 1,318 Bachelor degrees, and 235 Associate degrees during the past year. Reflecting the importance of education in today’s increasingly complex and technical world, the many demands on today’s professionals, and the quality of our programs, 26 percent of our Bachelor and Associate degree grantees have already enrolled with us to pursue another degree.
Few events generate as much excitement, pride or sense of accomplishment as a university graduation ceremony. Our students hail from all 50 U.S. states and 135 countries worldwide. They include active duty servicemen and servicewomen; dedicated public servants; and accomplished professionals engaged in a range of technical, analytic, and management positions. They are also wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. Their accomplishments are outstanding!
As impressive as the graduating class of 2009’s numbers and statistics are, the stories, the accomplishments, the hopes and the dreams of individual American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU) graduates are equally as fascinating. I appreciated having the opportunity to catch up with many of the graduates who attended our ceremonies. What they said about their experience with APUS was certainly of interest to me and offers insight and inspiration to us all. I have summarized a few of them.
Kim Beyers received a B.A. in Homeland Security from AMU last weekend, thrilled that her parents and family members could be on hand to help mark her accomplishment, and is looking forward to another AMU graduation ceremony in the not-so-distant future, when she earns her AMU Master’s degree in Homeland Security. Ms. Beyers, an information systems specialist, is on active duty with the U.S. Army, and plans to retire in 2010 – but she has no plans to stop working. She was posted in Turkey when the national tragedy of September 11, 2001 occurred, and she vowed shortly thereafter that she would continue her public service beyond her military career by contributing to the nation’s security – which she hopes to do in an analyst position with the Department of Homeland Security or the Defense Intelligence Agency following her retirement.
Charles Russo currently works as an analyst with a large defense contractor and received a B.A. in Intelligence Studies with AMU last year. Charles plans to pursue an M.A. in Intelligence Studies with AMU beginning next year. Mr. Russo attended the APUS graduation ceremonies as one of our alumni ambassadors, there to congratulate a new class of alumni. He says his degree program with AMU has given him perspective and insight which complements his more than 14 years of intelligence experience.
Susan Wadehul received a Master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Emergency & Disaster Management from APU (as well as a stellar 4.0 GPA and “Outstanding Graduate Student Award” for the School of Public Safety and Health), in what was the culmination of a self-imposed challenge – and likely the start of an exciting new phase in her life and career. In September, 2004, the registered nurse and emergency medical technician was diagnosed with viral meningitis, and told it could take up to three years to fully recover. Unable to lift heavy objects or to work, but otherwise healthy, Susan decided to pursue a master’s degree in “something broader” than a traditional nursing program. She found in APU what she calls “the perfect combination:” an online master’s degree program in public health, with a concentration in emergency management. Now fully recovered and back at work full time at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, MA, Susan hopes her newly minted degree will allow her to realize another dream: to teach other aspiring healthcare providers in nursing, public health and/or emergency management.
Clearly, these and all of our APUS graduates are already making their mark in a range of fields crucial to our nation’s military, government, social and economic success. I believe their education and experience with AMU and APU will not only make them more successful in their individual careers – but that they will make life a little better for all of us in their ongoing service to our country.
Congratulations to the AMU and APU graduating classes of 2009, and all the best from the administration and faculty of APUS!