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University of Phoenix Spring 2024 Commencement Ceremony celebrates graduates, features keynote speaker and alumna, Dr. Mautra Jones 

University of Phoenix commencement speaker Dr. Mautra Jones

Dr. Mautra Jones speaking at University of Phoenix Spring Commencement

By Sharla Hooper

Event held at Chase Field featured Dr. Jones, President of Oklahoma City Community College

University of Phoenix held its Spring 2024 commencement ceremonies on Saturday, March 2, at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, with more than 2,500 graduating students from five different countries and 48 U.S. states registered to attend. The in-person event offered morning and afternoon ceremonies which hosted a total of more than 11,000 attendees. 

Attendees were welcomed by University of Phoenix Provost and Chief Academic Officer John Woods, Ph.D., and keynote speaker and alumna, Mautra Staley Jones, Ed.D., President of Oklahoma City Community College, and by University faculty and staff. The students who earned their degrees during the ceremony join a community of more than one million University of Phoenix alumni. 

Woods shared his immense pride in graduates’ achievements at the commencement ceremony. “It’s a privilege to lead commencement, to join our graduates and their families in celebrating their perseverance, grit, and accomplishment,” stated Woods. “As working adult learners, caretakers, mothers, fathers, and community members, our graduates juggle many commitments, and it’s a huge honor to be part of the ceremony recognizing their hard-earned achievement.” 

Jones shared her own story with graduates in attendance. “Like you, I know that education is the great equalizer, and I am passionate about ensuring that as many individuals as possible can access this transformative opportunity,” she stated. “Today, you leave this commencement with a hard-earned recognition. What is it that you want to do? I want to encourage you to bet on yourself, to be fearless.”

Jones earned her Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Phoenix in 2005 and is now a prominent leader in higher education. She is currently the president of Oklahoma City Community College, the fourth-largest institution of higher education in Oklahoma, serving more than 18,000 students. 

Her appointment as the college’s 11th president was historic for the school and the state. In Oklahoma, Jones is the first African American to serve as president of any institution of higher education that is not an HBCU (historically Black college and university). Additionally, she is the first woman and first person of color to lead Oklahoma City Community College. 

Jones is an active and engaged community member, providing leadership to various corporate, civic, and charitable organizations, including serving as a board director for BancFirst and BancFirst Corporation, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has been honored for her service and leadership, including being inducted into the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame in 2022. She was the American Mothers National Mother of the Year in 2021 and has been named Woman of the Year by 405 Magazine, The Journal Record, Perry Publishing and Broadcasting, and With Love OKC. Forbes Magazine recognized Jones as one of the ten top Black Higher Education CEOs to watch in 2023, and Luxiere Magazine featured her as a Woman of Influence in 2023.

Teressa Dalatri graduated with her Master of Science in Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MSC/CCMH), flying into Phoenix from Oklahoma City to attend commencement in person. Attending commencement with a friend, Dalatri shared that she wanted to walk at commencement in memory of her mother.

Dalatri completed her bachelor’s in correctional program support services in 2019 with University of Phoenix and immediately enrolled in the master’s program. “I have always been interested in counseling and although I’ve tried other career paths, this was my calling, what I should always have been pursuing; I finally listened,” she shared. “One of the populations I want to work with are those in corrections, and with University of Phoenix I aligned my bachelor’s and master’s degree pathways to better focus on support services and counseling in corrections.” 

Dalatri, who worked two jobs while working towards her graduate degree, had also attended Oklahoma City Community College and transferred credits towards her bachelor’s degree at University of Phoenix. She had the opportunity to connect with Jones at the commencement. “It means a lot to connect with her as OCCC is where I started my college journey, so it's almost like it's full circle,” she said.

The next in-person commencement ceremony for University of Phoenix is scheduled to take place in Detroit, Michigan, in June.  

Learn more about commencement at the University of Phoenix here.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit