University of Phoenix Celebrates 20 Years of Online Education

PHOENIX, July 16 /PRNewswire/ — University of Phoenix will honor 3,686 graduating online students on Friday, July 17, and Saturday, July 18, in commencement ceremonies at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. To accommodate the more than 25,000 guests who are expected to attend, three separate ceremonies are planned for graduates who earned their associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Additionally, family and friends of graduates who cannot attend the ceremony can watch their loved ones walk across the stage via a live web cast of the ceremonies at

In 1989, University of Phoenix pioneered online education three years before the advent of the World Wide Web. Two decades later, the University continues to harness the power of digital technologies to help students master the skills that are in greatest demand in the workplace. University of Phoenix is a recognized leader in defining and implementing quality online education standards, having established one of the most comprehensive outcomes assessment programs for colleges and universities today.

The Online graduating class of 2009 is representative of all 50 U.S. states, as well as an International community of 44 countries. Because these graduates earned their degrees programs online, the commencement ceremonies will be the first time many of the students will meet face-to-face.

The keynote speaker at Friday’s ceremonies is Brent Rasmussen, the president of CareerBuilder North America. In his role, Rasmussen oversees the day-to-day operations of both CareerBuilder Canada and, the country’s largest online job site, with more than 23 million unique visitors and over 1.6 million jobs. Pulling from his years of extensive research and experience, Rasmussen is an employment expert who regularly appears on national TV and radio as well as addresses a variety of industry forums to discuss topics such as the state of the job market, hiring practices and a multitude of workplace issues.

Saturday’s keynote speaker will be Keith Ferrazzi, who transformed professional networking with his bestselling book Never Eat Alone, which shared the secret of his impressive climb to the top. His second book, Who’s Got Your Back, was just published in May 2009 and is already topping the charts. As founder and CEO of the business consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight, Ferrazzi counsels the world’s top enterprises on how to dramatically accelerate the development of business relationships to drive sales, spark innovation, and create team cohesion.

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help students balance education and life in a rapidly changing world. Through flexible schedules, challenging courses and interactive learning, students achieve personal and career aspirations without putting their lives on hold. During the quarter ending May 31, 2009, 420,700 students were enrolled at University of Phoenix, the largest private university in North America. University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, go to

By the Numbers:

770 Number of associate’s degrees being awarded

1,175 Number of bachelor’s degrees being awarded

1,528 Number of master’s degrees being awarded

213 Number of doctoral degrees being awarded

Countries Represented by Graduates:



Antigua and Barbados






Cayman Islands




Costa Rica


Dominican Republic










Netherlands Antilles



Puerto Rico


Saint Lucia

St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Saudi Arabia

South Korea




The Bahamas

Trinidad & Tobago

Turks and Caicos Islands


United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

United States of America


Virgin Islands

Graduate Student Looked at Harvard; Chose University of Phoenix

Stephanie Williams of Germantown, Maryland

Stephanie Williams of Germantown, Md., did her research on graduate schools. And, considering the fact that she is a senior administrator for a research company that contracts with the government and private industries, she knows the importance of crossing all the "t’s" and dotting all the "i’s" when it comes to research and final outcomes. Williams will receive her MBA in healthcare management during University of Phoenix’s online graduation ceremony. She is proud of her degree and says when she holds her academic instruction up to the education that some of her colleagues experienced, she knows she made the right decision and that her research was right on target. Williams also loved the online format and recommends to anyone contemplating a college education to consider online because, "you have all of your work online right in front of you. You don’t have to worry about sitting in traffic or getting sick; it’s all right there according to your schedule. No one can hold you back."

Graduate Applies MBA to Gain Success Personally and Professionally

Chris Ortleib of Columbus, Ohio

Chris Ortleib, Detroit native and current Columbus resident, decided to attend University of Phoenix to obtain a higher education and to support his family. Time management was never one of Ortleib’s strong suits, but learning how to become self-disciplined and use time wisely became one of his greatest qualities after enrolling at University of Phoenix. Along the course of his studies, Ortleib garnered two promotions, got married, planned a honeymoon and adopted two rescue dogs. He attributes his professional and personal success to the skills he learned while taking classes and now looks at all aspects of his business with a more critical eye. Ortleib sincerely believes his increased business insight has allowed him to continue climbing the ladder of success. He credits both his personal ambition and wife in his desire to achieve greatness in his life.

From Navy Officer to Entrepreneur to First College Graduate in Generations

William Villanueva of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

William Villanueva proudly served as a Navy officer for 21 years. When his retirement date was approaching, Villanueva realized it was time to open new doors in his career. With an entrepreneurial spirit driving his ambitions, he started his own business in Puerto Rico, supplying law enforcement gear and equipment. However, Villanueva realized his bachelor’s degree wasn’t going to be enough to fulfill his professional dreams of expanding his business. He enrolled at University of Phoenix’s Puerto Rico campus to earn his master’s degree in business administration. Villanueva originally selected the on-ground format, but when he had to relocate to San Diego in the middle of his degree, attending classes online was the best option. Today, his hard work and dedication are paying off. Villanueva plans to expand his business and has become the first one in his family to earn not only a bachelor’s, but a master’s degree. He is proud to set a great example for his two children, and is looking forward to his future as a retired Navy officer.

Former Gang Member Turns His Life Around, Obtains College Degree

Adam Camarena of Dallas, Texas

Ten years ago, Adam Camarena didn’t see himself getting a college degree. In fact, involved with gang activities and drugs, the young Hispanic was living life dangerously day-by-day on the street. He recognized that if he didn’t change, his life would be cut short. As a result, Camarena relocated to a new suburb in Dallas and got his act together. He started working at Johnson & Johnson and got married. The 29-year-old wanted to advance his career to provide for his now growing family, but without the appropriate education, the opportunities were limited. To help achieve his goals, Camarena enrolled in the online bachelor’s degree program at University of Phoenix. Now with a newborn son, he had to balance work with school and all of the new responsibilities of being a first-time parent. The University’s online program gave Camarena the flexibility to complete school work when it was convenient for him. He found himself going to the office early at 4 a.m. – after a sleepless night with the baby – to write papers and send messages to his learning team before starting the work day. Camarena will be receiving his bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in supply chain management. He hopes to one day tell his son Aiden about all of the obstacles he had to overcome to finally achieve his dream of a better education.

Relocated Katrina Victim Goes Back to School to Get Ahead in New City

Angela Jackson of Houston, Texas

Much like many of her friends, Angela Jackson attended college right after high school. As a single mother, however, she was juggling taking care of her son with a full-time job and school work. She aspired to earn her bachelor’s degree, but settled with receiving her associate’s degree. More than a decade later, the now 39-year-old mother of two was working on earning her bachelor’s degree in Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. When the family realized that Louisiana could no longer be her home, they relocated to Houston. As a new staff member at a healthcare facility in an unfamiliar city, Jackson learned quickly that her experience as a registered nurse would not be enough to advance her career. To help achieve her career goals, she enrolled in the online bachelor’s program at University of Phoenix. Initially, she was uneasy about the lack of face-to-face interaction with classmates. During her first class, however, she developed strong relationships with her learning team, who were local, and national nursing students who shared their extensive knowledge and experiences in the field. She loved interacting with them online and soon started calling her teammates to talk about things other than schoolwork. Jackson will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in nursing and hopes that it inspires her sons "to go beyond good enough" and become lifelong learners.

Online "Nerd" Proud of Her Academic Achievements

Karen Bieber of Reston, Virginia

As the director of a nonprofit childcare center and school in Reston, Va., catering to children from 6 weeks to 12 years old, Karen Bieber has her hands full, to say the least. Working 10-hour days didn’t leave the single mother much time with her own 8-year-old daughter, Bailey, so when she was researching online degree programs to continue her education, she liked what she found at University of Phoenix. She also liked the fact that she could apply every single thing she learned in her master’s degree program in curriculum and instruction to her daily responsibilities and operation of the childcare center and school to benefit the children there. Bieber says earning her degree was a challenge, but she was able to show her daughter the value of sticking with something you start. In fact, her daughter sat next to her many nights as they did homework together at the kitchen table. Bieber says she’s extremely proud of the fact that she earned one of the highest GPAs, even though her daughter exclaimed, "Gosh, mom, you’re such a nerd," when she learned that her mother scored a higher grade point average than she did.

Pen Pal Relationship Leads to Lifelong Friendships Spanning Multi-Generations

Walakira "Robert" Kisakye of Uganda (Pen Pal from Tempe, Arizona)

When Dr. Lisa Wright attended the World’s Fair in New York in 1964, she had no idea how it would change her life. At the time, she was 10 years old and decided to sign up for a pen pal through Parker Pen’s computer matching service. Soon after, Wright connected with a friend in Uganda. Over the years, she came to love his wife and children through the sharing of stories via mail. When her pen pal and his wife passed away due to illness, Wright was married and had two sons of her own. However, she and her husband James did not hesitate to support their orphaned children from afar. Recognizing it was difficult for her pen pal’s oldest son – Walakira or "Robert" – to get a job or education Wright and her husband introduced Robert to University of Phoenix’s online program. James himself has two degrees from the University. As a result of his education, which the Wrights have financed, Robert obtained a job working for a telecommunications company in Uganda as an assistant manager and aspires to advance his career in the industry. Attending University of Phoenix’s online commencement is special not only because he is celebrating the completion of his bachelor of science in information technology, but also, this is the first time his country has granted him a visa to visit the United States for two weeks. (PRNewswire)

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