Talia Erickson of Challis has received her Bachelor of Arts degree in educational studies from Western Governors University (WGU). The university held its 32nd semiannual commencement ceremony at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando on February 11 and celebrated the graduation of more than 11,000 students.

At the commencement, the online nonprofit university recognized 6,982 undergraduates and 4,476 graduates who have completed their degrees in business, information technology, K-12 teacher education and healthcare, including nursing. Will Weatherford, Managing Partner of Weatherford Partners and Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, delivered the commencement address and joined President Scott D. Pulsipher in honoring the more than 1,000 alumni participating in the ceremony. Students who were not able to attend the ceremony in person were able to watch the event via live video stream on WGU’s web site.

Forty percent of this year’s graduates represent the first generation in their family to complete college. The average time to graduate for bachelor’s degrees was two years, three months, and the average time to graduate for graduate programs was one year, nine months.

Designed to meet the needs of busy working adults, WGU’s competency-based model makes it possible for students to set their own study schedules and move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn.

Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online nonprofit WGU now serves 79,000 students nationwide and has more than 75,000 graduates in all 50 states.