For the first time since March 2019, the University of Phoenix Tribal Operations team was proud to host its annual celebratory luncheon on March 11 for our Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students participating in the university’s graduation ceremony.
From day one through graduation day, the Tribal Operations department of University of Phoenix provides support and encouragement to its students, including hands-on assistance with obtaining tribal education benefits and other scholarships as well as in-depth academic support through a student’s entire program of study. This year’s graduation luncheon provided a memorable opportunity for Tribal Operations staff members to share the joyous experience with the graduating students and to hear their personal stories of triumph and perseverance.
Patrick Horning, National Tribal Strategic Alliance Executive who oversees all tribal operations and business alliances at the University of Phoenix, expressed his appreciation for the event and the impact it has on both the university’s Tribal Operations staff as well as the graduates in attendance.
“Of all the events we host and attend across the country, this is by far my favorite,” said Horning. “There is nothing more exciting or gratifying than hearing our tribal students talk about their educational journey and their appreciation for everyone who provided help and support along the way. This is why we are here, and their stories help us all gain a unique perspective of why we do what we do.”
Students from all across the country gathered at the university’s Phoenix campus location to honor and celebrate the recent graduates. The luncheon served as a kick-off to a momentous weekend for the attendees as the university’s annual graduation commencement ceremony was held the next day at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks.
As they prepared to walk across the graduation stage the next day to receive their diplomas, the group of new University of Phoenix alumni gathered to bask in the magnitude of their achievements and reflect on the collective sacrifices and challenges that were overcome along the way to reach graduation day.
Throughout the afternoon, nearly every graduate in attendance shared his/her personal story with the entire group, with emotional testimonies being shared of long days that had to be endured and tragedies that had to be overcome. For some, it took decades of time and a tremendous amount of family, community and university support to complete their studies. For others, loved ones who were lost along the way to graduation served as a driving force to keep academic goals on track. Above all, however, were the impassioned accounts each graduate gave that illustrated common traits of relentless determination and unshakeable resilience despite what in some cases seemed to be insurmountable challenges.
Across the entire room, laughs were shared, tears were cried and cheers were given for the graduates, ranging from associate to doctoral level students, with several of the proud participants being the first in their families to earn a college degree. Many of the graduates took time to acknowledge their achievements, but also viewed the day and graduation as a whole as one significant step in a lifetime of learning.