2017 WGU Missouri Commencement Speaker - Joe Mobley

Joe Mobley Joe Mobley is no stranger to life’s demands and challenges. After receiving an undergraduate degree from Missouri Western University, Joe went to work for Saint Luke’s Health System and Christian Charity Church, open his own BBQ and catering business and start a family. That’s why he needed an education that was convenient, flexible and offered him the support he needed.

Joe’s WGU journey began when he was helping a colleague on a WGU assignment and saw the convenience of earning a graduate degree through the university. Next thing he knew, he was working on his own assignments. WGU’s model of competency-based learning allowed Joe to juggle his many roles while learning at his own pace and applying the lessons to his current job.

“Other schools have a traditionally structured model and I feel are more concerned with your grades,” Joe said. “In my opinion, WGU places more value on being able to retain and apply the knowledge at a working and practical level.”

When Joe started his journey to earn a graduate degree from WGU, he never imagined the challenges he would face along the way. Shortly after the birth of his son, his wife ended up back in the hospital due to complications.

After being sent home, Joe received the news that his father-in-law was in the hospital on a ventilator. Then, in November of 2015, Joe lost one of his best friends when his paternal grandmother passed away.

“She was gone, but she had encouraged me to stand firm in the midst of storms,” Joe said.

During these storms, Joe leaned on his WGU mentor, Tanya Manning-Ames, who continued to encourage and support him. Faculty member Dr. Linda Gunn reminded him that this was only a test and that short term sacrifice would lead to long term successes and gains.

He pressed on, but in March of 2016, his grandfather passed away. Joe’s full-time jobs, business, wife and three children, and now the loss of another close family member left him exhausted. After visiting a number of doctors and specialists, he was directed to a neurologist who diagnosed him with multiple sclerosis in September of 2016.

“I went through a range of emotions,” Joe said. “I asked myself if I should quit school. I could hear my grandfather say ‘son if you can walk, you can work.’ So I refused to give up, I kept right on trucking.”

Joe soldiered on through his trials, and he and his wife welcomed another child in February of 2017. Now, Joe hopes to use his new degree to serve in a leadership position and is proof that although life can throw you curve balls, you can still come back and win the game.

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