VWU Global Campus Commencement Ceremony 2022

William 'Bill' Blake '06

Mavis (Escoffery) McKenley '11As a student at larger universities, Bill Blake ’06 admits that he often felt like “a number.” That all changed when he enrolled in Virginia Wesleyan’s Adult Studies Program (ASP) and began to feel like a valued member of a learning community. Blake majored in the Liberal Arts Management Program (L.A.M.P.)—now called Management, Business, and Economics. Today he works as Director of Sales at Inside Business; serves on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads, the Philanthropic Advisory Board of Eastern Virginia Medical School, the Norfolk Board of Directors, and the Executive Committee of the local chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Odenton, Maryland native currently lives in Moyock, North Carolina. He is married to his wife, Leanne. He has three children, two stepchildren, and he recently became a grandfather.

How did your time at Virginia Wesleyan University shape the person you are today?

VWU gave me a true desire and appreciation for lifelong learning. My previous university experiences made me feel like a number, and I had to grind out the work in order to get the diploma. At VWU, the professors are so genuine, and they treat you like a real person—better yet, like a valuable treasure chest just waiting to be unlocked. Don’t get me wrong, the classes were often tough and challenging, but the professors were right alongside you to infuse knowledge, instill confidence, and applaud your accomplishments.

What are some of your favorite memories of friends, professors or mentors at VWU?

All of my classes and teachers were wonderful in their own respects, but two particularly stand out. [Professor of Management, Business, and Economics] Dave Garraty, who ultimately became my senior advisor, was the professor who pushed for excellence and didn’t lower the bar for anyone…it’s good to have standards. Our society needs more absolutes these days in my opinion, rather than a moving target. The other was [Professor of Philosophy] Stephen Emmanuel. I took his philosophy course. The class was one of my first within the Adult Studies Program and it broadened my horizons immensely. What was additionally memorable was how friendly and vested in me as a person Stephen was, in fact, at one point we took our family camping together over on the Eastern Shore.

How are Wesleyan alumni different from other college graduates?

Better. Enough said!

Anything else about your VWU experience you’d like to share?

I can’t say enough about the Adult Studies Program. As a full-time employee in a budding career and married with 3 young children, the staff within the ASP made my college life as easy as they could. Don’t get me wrong, the late night classes and occasional Saturdays were tough, but if the administration stuff had been dumped on me the way previous universities had treated me, I would have quit. No doubt. I’m proud to be a Marlin.