The Whidbey Island campus commencement kicked off the first of eight Brandman University commencement ceremonies. Thirty-nine graduates donned their caps, gowns and excited smiles to walk across the stage at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge. A leather case holding their college diploma marked the end of a long and rewarding journey.
Angie Ingram of Oak Harbor left the stage with an armful of diplomas. The mother of three young children all under the age of nine, had just received three master’s degrees in psychology, organizational leadership and human resources. Three degrees may have seemed extreme for one person, but her accomplishment inspired her husband, William, to obtain his AA degree. “I told him that this time next year, he can be here getting his BA,” said Ingram. William is currently on Naval deployment and could not attend today’s ceremony.
Angie was chosen to address her fellow classmates. “My message for my classmates is ‘do what you are passionate about and remain focused’. That was the one thing I struggled with.” Ingram started her pursuit of three master’s degrees in 2011. She needed just three years to accomplish the feat. The Navy veteran juggled raising three young children with her studies and a fulltime job at Compass Health. “I am now going to take some time off and learn German,” said Ingram.
The festivities continued steps away from where Ingram received her three degrees. Marie Ceya and her husband Stephen McCrea both received their bachelor’s degree in psychology. “I started first," Ceya jokingly made the point of saying. Her husband Stephen then decided, after 13 ½ years of service in the Navy, that he would join his wife. Today, they graduated alongside one another. “Once I left the Navy I decided I needed to do something with my life and here I am, what’s next I’m not sure,” said McCrea. The couple says they may return to Brandman and seek a master’s in organizational leadership.
While Ceya and McCrea debate their future, they heard inspiring words from guest speaker Captain Christopher Phillips, executive officer of NAS Whidbey Island. Captain Phillips is a graduate of Brandman, having earned his master’s in organizational leadership. He spoke to the graduates about the next chapter of their lives. Like many of the graduates, Captain Phillips announced he will soon be transitioning out of the Navy after 28 years of service and enter civilian life. “After 28 years, I, like you, had to find something different to do,” said Captain Phillips. “Be sure to take care of yourself, network, network, network, and never stop learning. Lifelong learning is instrumental to many.”
Dr. Glenn Worthington, dean of the School of Business and Professional Studies delivered the commencement speech.
The Whidbey Island campus also honored its “Instructors of the Year.” Honored as “Undergraduate Instructors of the Year” were Gerald Brigham and John Gerth. Michael Benway was named “Graduate Instructor of the Year” while Ed Hunter won the Director’s Award.
Graduates Janisha Rico and Eric Gross performed the Star-Spangled Banner. Over 250 guests attended the ceremony.