As rainclouds held off for much of Saturday’s commencement ceremony before releasing a downpour amid cheers from the nearly 1,000 students in attendance, Gov. Ralph S. Northam told Longwood University graduates on Saturday that their preparation as citizen leaders has set them on a course for a life of purpose and progress.
“Here at Longwood you’ve received a classic liberal arts and sciences education. That kind of education prepares you not just for the particular career you’ve planned to pursue but for life,” said Northam, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony. “It teaches you to use your mind and think for yourself. And in the very loud public sphere we have these days, you’ll need those skills to guide you toward what is true and right. Longwood has taught you to be citizen leaders, which is no small thing. It means you are prepared to work toward that common good. It means you value your connection to your community. It means you are always open to learning and using what you learn.”
I think we would all be better off if we worked to build community as purposefully as Longwood does.Gov. Ralph S. Northam Tweet This
Northam, who took office in January as the 73rd governor of Virginia, issued a charge to graduates to use the strong moral compass they developed at Longwood to think for themselves but act for the greater good of their communities and the world.
“You are a member of a generation that isn’t waiting around for my generation to create the world you want to live in,” he said. “You have the power and the responsibility to make the world you want to live in. You make the communities you want to raise kids in. You make the world you want to leave your own children. You can live a life that makes the world around you better. You have that power, and we need you to use it.”
That message was also shared at Friday night’s graduate commencement ceremony, where Joan Brock ’64, a community and business leader and acclaimed philanthropist, encouraged students to orient themselves toward service to others.
Over commencement weekend, Longwood awarded 1,150 degrees: 166 in Friday evening’s graduate ceremony and 984 in Saturday’s undergraduate ceremony.
The 21st century beckons, and I take great hope in this next generation. Lancer Class of 2018, I take great hope in you.President W. Taylor Reveley IV Tweet This
In Saturday’s outdoor ceremony, President W. Taylor Reveley IV—deeming the approaching wet weather a sign of good luck—said he was encouraged by the graduating generation’s optimism. “The 21st century beckons, and I take great hope in this next generation. Lancer Class of 2018, I take great hope in you.”
As the skies opened on the line of students receiving their diplomas—most had already made it across stage—a chorus of cheers erupted from the graduates in a moment of drenched delight—marking what will undoubtedly be one of the most enduring memories of their Longwood career.
The ceremony marked a high point for Longwood’s worldwide reach, as the most international students in the university’s history received their diplomas at the Saturday ceremony. Graduates’ families from across the world, from Estonia to Saudi Arabia, were in attendance to celebrate the students’ achievement.
At Saturday’s ceremony, Casey Dawn Gailey, a biology major and English minor from Staunton, received the Sally Barksdale Hargrett Prize for Academic Excellence, given each year to the graduating senior with the highest grade-point average. Gailey was the president of Beta Beta Beta sorority as well as Sigma Alpha Pi, the national society of leadership and success, and national honor society Phi Kappa Phi. She plans to continue her studies in graduate school, working toward a doctorate in evolution and development.
Now go out and share your gifts. Go make the world a better place.Joan Brock ’64
Outgoing president of the Student Government Association Kevin A. Napier received the prestigious Dan Daniel Senior Award for Scholarship and Citizenship, which recognizes the Longwood student who exhibits a commitment to a life of public service and leadership. Napier has advocated for additional mental health resources, collaborated with the Longwood University Police Department on listening sessions, and worked with the Office of Citizen Leadership and Social Justice Education on programming. He has served in the Virginia National Guard since 2015 and, in 2017, was Longwood’s first-ever nominee for the national Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
Dr. Lisa Minor, assistant professor of nursing and the interim director of the nursing program, was awarded the Student-Faculty Recognition Award, annually given to one faculty member for professional excellence and service to students.
Three graduating seniors were commissioned into the U.S. Army at the ceremony. Second Lt. Judson Albright will attend Engineer Basic Officer Leadership Course before he joins the 180th Engineer Co. based in Powhatan. Second Lt. Hunter Schmitz will attend Army Logistics University and serve in the Transportation Corps. Second Lt. Scott Davis will also attend Engineer Basic Officer Leadership Course.
At Friday evening’s graduate ceremony, Brock—who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters—encouraged students to measure their success in life by what they do for others.
“Approach the world alert to the opportunities you have at hand,” she said. “Ask how you can help, and act on those answers. Find a career that fulfills you, and work like you mean it—never coast. Be on the lookout for ways to make everyone and everything around you better. Ask what you can do to help.”
The Brocks have helped transform Longwood over the past two decades, first with the establishment of Brock Commons, the central promenade of campus, and more recently with the opening of Brock Hall, the stunning new student success center, and creation of Brock Experiences, a catalog of signature courses where students dive deep into the issues of our day in a place most affected by them.
“Success is measured not by your bank account, or the neighborhood you live in, or the car your drive, but what you give back, the hope you provide, the love you spread,” said Brock. “Now go out and share your gifts. Go make the world a better place.”
At the ceremony, several faculty members and students were recognized with awards:
- Faculty Research Award: Dr. Xun Bian, associate professor of finance and real estate
- Faculty Teaching and Mentoring Award: Dr. Kellyn Hall, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders
- Longwood Graduate Student Award: Brittany Lynn Bishop
- Lancer Graduate Student Award: Joseph David Siverd
- Graduate Leadership Award: Alexandra Macon Lee
- Graduate Alumni Award: Barbara Lynn Haas