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Virginia Tech Fall 2019 Commencement Ceremony

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[Music: Pomp and Circumstance] [ Applause ] >>DIANE ZAHM: Please stand for the passing of the Colors and the singing of our National Anthem by Jonathan Elmore "Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? [ Applause ] >>PRESIDENT SANDS: Please be seated Thank you, Jonathan To those receiving degrees today, to their families and friends, to the faculty, staff and students, on behalf of the University, I extend you a warm welcome to the Fall 2019 Commencement exercises, in this 148th year of the University And now, Cindy Yu, Member-at-Large for the Class of 2020, will give the Opening Reflections >>CINDY YU: good Morning, Hokeas! It is an honor to stand along side classmateclassmates, peers, professors, and advisors

I want to congratulate you on what you have accomplished today and wish you the best in your next journey and chapter of your life Four years have flown by, maybe three and a half for some, maybe four and a half for others — [loud cheering from the crowd] [ Applause ] >>CINDY: Regardless of how much or how little time it took, you did The years were filled beprecious memories, life long friendships, personal and educational growth and admireable achievements Your diligence, determination, and persistence will be rewarded with a degree you received today

In the meantime, don't forget to thank your professors, peers, advisors, and family who have guided you along the way and be grateful to have had them by your side tochallenge and support you Also, don't forget to thank Virginia Tech Virginia Tech is truly a special place It has shown us what community is, what spirit is, how to spread kindness, what service means, and how to support and love I could go on about the things that we can all agree on as to why Virginia Tech is special, but I want to remind you that each of you are special as well

You are an Hokie From the start, Virginia Tech has opened the door for you, and it was you, you who had the courage to walk into the unknown realm of challenges and experiences Now, some time has passed since that first step and your journey as a student, at Virginia Tech, has come to an end However, you will be walking out of the door as proud Virginia Tech alumni, with more knowledge, competence, pride, and wisdom Each of you serves a person purpose to make an impact

Never underestimate yourselves, and be resilient, and make every day a better day for those around you, wherever you go, never forget how Virginia Tech has shaped the person you are today Congratulations, Class of 2019, thank you! [ Applause ] >>PRESIDENT SANDS: Thank you, Cindy We want to thank our governing body, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, led by Rector Horacio Valieras I also want welcome John Ferris, our Faculty Representative to the Board, who is with us this morning

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in recognizing the University's Board of Visitors [ Applause ] Now I am pleased to introduce the President of the Class of 2020, Gregory Klatt [ Applause ] >>GREGORY KLATT: A few short years ago, we took tours of this campus where inevitably somebody asked, what exactly is an Hokie? And we would hear responses like: I think it's a turkey! Or, I am! But it wasn't until we came here that we truly knew what it meant

For the parents in the audience who might not know what I am talking about because their children are like me and don't call as much as they could, I will tell you how maroon and orange could be fashionable We came bright-eyed, bushy tailed and eager to start for the first time And now we went to classes and thought it would be the start of an easy ride After that, the first winter hit, we could not wait to wage war in the first cadet snow ball fight, even in finals we found a way to give fun, and then in the spring we participated in the Relay For Life event to give back what we have been given so much But we learned that being an Hokie is more than what we do, it is you we do it

We have been guided by the principle that I may serve, and it teaches that service is more than a one time thing, it is a duty, a mindset, and a lifestyle, and because of that we will continue to serve And now as we prepare to walk across the stage, making the transition from undergraduates to alumni, we must remember that we will always be Hokies, and that is something to be proud of For our time as an Hokie does not end here, we have so much more to do Let us continue to serve others, and represent and support Virginia Tech, and always remember that we come from the same stump, Hokie stump So I will ask you again, what is an Hokie? You are, we all are Hokies and we always will be

Congratulations, class of 2019! [ Applause ] >>PRESIDENT SANDS: Thank you, Gregory Now, Jonathan Elmore will lead us in singing the Alma Mater You will find the words on the inside of the back cover of your program Please stand and join us

>>JONATHAN ELMORE: Sing praise to Alma Mater dear, For VPI we'll ever cheer; Come lift your voices, swell the song, Our loyalties to her belong So stand and sing, all hail to thee

VP, all hail to thee The Orange and Maroon you see, That's fighting on to victory; Our strife will not be long this day, For glory lies within this fray So stand and sing, hail to thee, VT, all hail to thee

All loyal sons and daughters, one, We raise our banner to the sun; Our motto brings a spirit true, That we may ever serve you So stand and sing all hail to thee, VT, all hail to thee! [ Applause ] >> — oh, please be seated [ Laughter ] has been a member of the faculty since 1985, and received more teaching awards than I have time to list today As a tree physiology specialist, Dr

John Seiler has spent his career studying our forests, and sharing his knowledge with students of all ages Thanks to Dr Seiler and his team, Virginia Tech has the number one website and モappヤ for tree identification He's known online as モDr Dendroヤ – short for モdendrologyヤ [ Applause ]

You have some fans already – and personally answers hundreds of questions from people across the country You could say he's one of our Hokie モsuperheroesヤ Please welcome Dr John Seiler

[ Applause ] >>JOHN SEILER: Thank you, president Sands It is sometimes awkward hearing comments about yourself, I will let you know that it is at least loosely-based on a true story, okay? I want to add my congratulations to all of you today for your commencement, this is a big deal So congratulations! [ Applause ] And now, to be fully transparent to you, when I was first asked by President Sands over five weeks ago to be the commencement speaker, my reaction was a little mix of fear, a little horror, nausea, and over time, I got a grip and let him know it would be a great honor to be here

So thank you Commencement is my favorite working day of the year, not favorite day of the year, but favorite working day I love it, all the picture taking, families that are happy and gathered, it is a great event, and selfishly, the town empties out after this [ laughter ] So seeing the fruit of all of your hard work, it is harvest time, you with newly-awarded degrees are the fruit And besides, how could I possibly pass up an opportunity to dress like this, all of us? [ Laughter ]

So, I also get to give you a last lecture, and on Fridays, and this is a Friday, I believe, right, I talk for 50 minutes But I'm going to be brief So the university commencement speaker, I realized right away this is a big deal and I knew I needed to take it very seriously, so I thought, what would my very best students to do to prepare for an important exam or speech like this? So I got working on it right away, right after dinner last night [ laughter ] I didn't even watch the news, nobody does anyway, so that wasn't a big sacrifice Some time in the middle of the night, I knew I wasn't going to finished, panicked, I emailed President Sands at 2:00 in the morning and asked for an extension

He didn't answer [ laughter ] So I wrapped it up the best I could, and this morning I went to print and the ink was empty The president's office graciously printed it out for me Sound familiar? I read this to my daughter who graduated last spring and she said it scared her Well, here you are at commencement

Let's get something on the possible right away, why are you at fall commencement and not the big one? For most of you, it is because you are over achievers, some of you are graduating early instead of spring 2020, any you you here? [ Applause ] Very good Some of you are double majors, or minors as well, some of you worked jobs and could not always take a full classload [ Applause ] There you go

But let's be real here: For some of you, it means you messed up your class schedules a few too many times, don't identify! Maybe you never visited your advisor or you didn't listen to their advice, maybe you took a class two or more times, maybe some of mine So because you are either over achievers, or made poor decisions here during your semester, [ laughter ], you are not in Lane Stadium on a beautiful spring day with the dogfoods blooming I actually graduated at my fall commencement, I don't remember who spoke, you won't either [ laughter ] And I won't tell you what group I fell into, the over achievers or the ones that didn't pay attention Parents, some quiet time today with your graduates, find out why you had to listen to me, an unknown professor from the smallest college on campus, although, the number one college of natural resources in the United States! [ Applause ]

I like to say we are small, but tough But anyway, why you had to listen to me and not Michelle Obama, not Frank Beamer, go Hokies, not the governor, an astronaut, or some other celebrity, it might be revealing to find that out Well, since very few of you have any idea who I am, I will share my greatest claim to fame that was not listed in the introduction I teach the hardest one-credit class at the university [ laughter ] Some of you have had that out there

This class is dendrology, or dendro for short, it is tree identification out doors, a few of you have taken the class, but more of you may have seen groups of students out until the cold rain or snow, huddled like arctic yak around a tree or shrub figuring out what it is, we get strange looks all the time, and we spend considerable time creeping around the shrubbery and trees around the president's house As far as I know, he never called security Upon arriving at work one day, this is a true story, shortly after 8:00AM, my phone rang This was before email and texting, and the desk phone actually rang quite a bit back then It was an associate dean, he said: I see you made it on the bathroom wall

Fourth stall, second floor, he hung up [ Laughter ] Puzzled, really, I went into the bathroom, opened the door of the fourth stall, and clearly written on the walls with an exclamation point were the words: Dendro sucks! [ Laughter ] I knew I had made it How many get a mention on a bathroom wall? I believe I put it in my annual report that year, maybe helped me get tenure

And if we had social media, status updates, tweets, selfies would have been taken, probably not in the bathroom [ laughter ] So now you understand why my initial reaction to the invitation was with fear, the professor with the hardest one credit class, and sucks at it, is asked to impart wisdom to students that don't need advise, or won't follow direction and won't heed my advice anyway [ laughter ] So reach for the stars, dream big, you have greatness within you, live, laugh, love, you can put anything you can put your mind to, mic drop, questions? Do we have any? We have time [ Applause ] I got — I still have 45 minutes! [ Laughter ]

Seriously, these and other cliches are great, but not reality I have put my mind in running a half marathon inunder two hours, I was really close the first time and have not since, not even close, it is a head thing I'm told I'm very pragmatic and don't like the theoretical Here are a few sensible, realistic, practical ways that make life's journey wonderful First, there are three of them: First, count your blessings

I can't think of anything better that represents how blessed we are than the cereal aisle of a Kroger or a Walmart [Yeah from the audience] I love cereal, I occasionally have it for breakfast and always before bed Fruit Loops is my favorite, I had a bowl last night Back to the cereal, I was standing in the middle of the aisle, that massive aisle when I heard a conversation between an elderly couple in their 80s, the man was driving the buggy and was staring at the cereal

The wife flatly asked, what are you doing? He replied, I'm just trying to find something different Her more sharp response: They don't make that, c'mon [ Laughter ] Now, he trudged forward She was right, you know

They can't possibly make anything else that is different, it has already been made, we have every factorial combination of grains, sugars, nuts, marketing, colors, everything possible If the boxes were not bug big enough, you have the 10 pound bags you can haul home on your shoulders, that's what I do, I buy the tooty fruities, we are blessed with so much Reflect on that every time you visit the cereal aisle now Train your mind to count blessings in hard times, like getting out of bed in the morning and checking to see if you hurt yourself when sleeping, that actually happens when you get old Along without trying to move without making noise, some of you can relate, and is that is something the rest of you can look forward to [ laughter ]

Second, love your neighbor as yourself, wow That has to be one of the most inclusive statements of all time, top of the pile, it sounds good in theory, but how can we make it real and practical? What you love is shown clearly by where you spend your time Can you imagine if we spent equal time on ourselves and others, not neglect ourselves, but for others in a divided day That would be a big event Take time to help someone and make decisions that benefit others, shovel snow for an elderly neighbor

Practical tip: Ask first, there's that get off my lawn thing that develops with age, you don't want the police showing up, because they see peering through the crack in their currentens a stranger on the porch with a shovel So check We have a saying in the house: Just make the juice You know the frozen stuff, in the cans, you have to chop it up and make it? Just make the juice One of my daughters who graduated in graphic design at Virginia Tech made a poster of it that hangs in my office and in the home

The source of that statement stems for mankind's propensity to place the orange juice container back in the refrigerator with less than 5 molecules of orange juice remaining [ laughter ] Yeah, you know The operational theory here is, as long as there is juice left, I don't have to make the next batch The next person will have to The same can be said of the sugar bowl, I don't to fill it, there is a crystal or two left

Love your neighbor, make the juice, and full the sugar bowl I'm serious, start with the small things and they grow into love With time you may become the next Mr Rodgers Will it be harder? There's a song by the Fray, are they a thing, called all at once

It has the lyric: Sometimes the hardest thing and the right things aren't the same — most times honestly But it comes with more blessings to count A few other things: Be a good friend, buy a good used car and not a new one, work first then play, the latest you want to be for appointments is 5 minutes early, get her done, there's a fine line between hobby and insanity, I will not judge what side of the line you are on But model railroaders, be really careful [ laughter ] By the way, the stupidest hobby in the world is running [ laughter ]

When you are running, there are people holding signs that say, stupidest hobby ever, [ laughter ], like this is supposed to inspire you As near as I can tell for running, all you have to be is stubborn, maybe insane And last, the person who is nice to you and mean to the server is not a nice person, this does not fail, pay attention Last, or number three: Your life is a book Some chapters, sorry, some chapters are great, and some chapters are not great

The important thing is to keep turning the pages You can't drive forward by looking in the rear-view mirror, well, you actually kind of sort of can do it, but you have to go really slow and it only works if nothing unexpected stepss in front of you Don't ask how I know this, one of my daughters can tell you how I know this, it is not a good strategy for going through life You will find yourself in a disappointment chapter, keep turning the pages, with that will come learning and clarity, or a new chapter And the last, last thing, this book, your life, is short

Decide what you believe about your last chapter, etourney, — eternity, oblivion, whatever, knowing the last chapter will change your viewpoint on things now, your current chapter Thank you, and a sincere congratulations to the parents, the grandparents, families, friends, and you guys, the reason we're here, the graduates Last lecture is over, class is dismissed, don't go, President Sands and the deans, need to return your final final exams, your degrees Thank you [ Applause ]

>>PRESIDENT SANDS: Thank you, professor! I now call upon the University's Executive Vice President and Provost, Dr Cyril Clarke, to assist with the conferral of degrees During today's ceremony, we will award degrees to 7 associate degree candidates and approximately 1,350 baccalaureate degree candidates These candidates have completed requirements for graduation during the first and second summer semesters, and the fall semester of 2019 At this time, I wish to acknowledge those candidates who will graduate with distinction as identified by their white sashes

Will these honored graduates please rise and be recognized? [ Applause ] Congratulations! Please be seated The deans will now present their college's candidates for Associate and Bachelor's degrees Dr Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will present candidates for Associate and Bachelor's degrees for this college

Dean Grant [ Applause ] >>ALAN GRANT: Will all the candidates for Associate and Bachelor's degrees in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences please rise? [ Applause ] President Sands, I have the honor to present the candidates for the Associate and Bachelor's degrees in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Will the marshal please escort these candidates to the stage? Dr Dan Eversole will present the candidates by name

>>DAN EVERSOLE: [Reading of graduate names] Please join me in congratulating these candidates from the College of Agriculture [ Applause ] Join me in congratulating these candidates from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dr

Robert Schubert, associate dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, will present candidates for Bachelor's degrees for this college >>ROBERT SCHUBERT: Will all the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies please rise? President Sands, I have the honor to present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies Will the marshal please escort these candidates to the stage? Professor Kathryn Albright will present the candidates by name >>KATHRYN ALBRIGHT: [Reading of graduate names] Join me in congratulating these candidates from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies

[ Applause ] Dr Robert T Sumichrast, Dean of the Pamplin College of Business, will present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in that college >>ROBERT SUMICHRAST: Will all the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the Pamplin College of Business please rise? [ Applause ] President Sands, I have the honor to present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the Pamplin College of Business

Will the marshal please escort these candidates to the stage? Dr Lara Khansa will present the candidates by name >>LARA KHANSA: [Reading of graduate names] >>CYRIL CLARKE: Join me in congratulating these candidates from the Pamplin College of Business [ Applause ]

Dr Julia Ross, Dean of the College of Engineering, will present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in that college >>JULIA ROSS: Will all candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Engineering please rise? [ Applause ] President Sands, I have the honor to present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Engineering Will the marshal please escort these candidates to the stage? Dr

Dan Thorp will present the candidates by name >>DAN THORP: [Reading of graduate names] A E >>CYRIL CLARKE: Join me in congratulating these candidates from the College of Engineering [ Applause ] Dr

Laura Belmonte, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the college >>LAURA BELMONTE: Will all the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences please rise? [ Applause ] President Sands, I have the honor to present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Will the marshal please escort these candidates to the stage? Dr Dan Thorp will present the candidates by name

>>DAN THORP: [Reading of graduate names ] >>CYRIL CLARKE: Join me in congratulating these candidates from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Paul Winistrofer will present the degrees for the colleges of natural resources and environment >>PAUL WINISTORFER: Will all candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Natural Resources and Environment please rise? President Sands, I have the honor to present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Natural Resources and Environment Will the marshal please escort these candidates to the stage? Dr

Keith Goyne will present the candidates by name >>CYRIL CLARKE: [Reading of graduate names] >>CYRIL CLARKE: Join me in congratulating these candidates from the College of Natural Resources and Environment [ Applause ] Dr

Sally Morton, Dean of the College of Science, will present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in that college >>SALLY MORTON: Will all candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Science please rise? [ Applause ] President Sands, I have the honor to present the candidates for Bachelor's degrees in the College of Science Will the marshal please escort these candidates to the stage? Dr Robin Panneton will present the candidates by name

>>ROBIN PANNETON: [Reading of graduate names] >>CYRIL CLARKE: Join me in congratulating these candidates from the College of Science At this time, I wish to ask all candidates for Associate and Bachelor's degrees to please rise President Sands, I present to you the university's candidates for Associates and Bachelor's degrees >>PRESIDENT SANDS: With the power vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Commonwealth of Virginia, upon recommendation of the faculty, and upon the successful completion of your courses of study, I confer upon you the Associate and Bachelor's degrees to which you are entitled, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities pertaining thereto

You may now signify your new status by moving your tassel from the right side of the mortarboard to the left [ Applause ] I congratulate each of you who received a degree today, and ask the audience to recognize your achievement once again with applause [ Applause ] Please be seated

And now, Deseria Creighton-Barney, President of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association Board, will offer congratulations on behalf of our alumni >>DESERIA CREIGHTON-BARNEY: Good afternoon, graduates, families, and friends Congratulations, class of 2019, you did it! [ Applause ] On behalf of the Virginia Tech alumni association, welcome! You are joining the Hokie alumni family! We are so pleased to have you as the university's newest alumni, and we are so proud of what you've accomplished You are now a special part of a group of more than 250,000 people all over the world

To paraphrase one of my favorite quotes: Because you are an Hokie the world will expect great things from you And because you are an Hokie, you are equipped to live up to those expectations Our community is large, but we share a common bond Our commitment to service to each other and to the global community Whatever your path after graduation, remember, you are always an Hokie and you have a connection to your Alma matter

Becoming an alum is not the end of the journey with the university, it is a milestone I strongly encourage you to stay involved by finding your local alumni chapter, attending an alumni event on campus or in your community, networking with fellow Hoakies and more I cannot wait to see what you do next Congratulations, and go Hoakies! [ Applause ] >>PRESIDENT SANDS: Thank you Deseria! A special thanks to Conductor Jay Crone, and the members of the Virginia Tech Brass Ensemble, and to the Corps of Cadets Color Guard, and our faculty marshals and ushers for their part in today's ceremony

On behalf of the faculty and staff of your proud alma mater, I wish today's graduates every success, and happy holidays We hope you will find many opportunities to visit our campus in future years Now, Bailey Spell, Vice President of the Class of 2020, will offer closing reflections After Bailey's remarks, and the Recessional, our ceremony will conclude [ Applause ]

>>BAILEY SPELL: I want to acknowledge the crowd as new alumni of Virginia Tech On behalf of everyone in this room, thank you to our families and professors and their hard work, because they helped us make it to this day We cannot forget to thank the internet, Google, and my personal favorite, Check, for assisting us with all of our homework assignments We share many memories from our years here, a rain dance, diplo concert, sleeping through 8:00AMs, sprinting through the drill field because we woke up late for class and forgetting to study for a few tests The list is endless

We have also gained a lot of knowledge from the faculty at Virginia Tech With this imagine, we have many classmates who conducted innovative research, presented at prestigious conferences, developing technologies, and created amazing works of art If it were not for our imagination, none of these things would have been possible, because even a genius like Albert Einstein understood that Imagination is more important than knowledge Hoakies before us have gone to the moon, authored New York Times best sellers, led companies, and fought for our freedom

This took arduous work from astronauts and physicists, as well as custodians, labor workers, soldiers, and lawyers Not only did it take their knowledge to propel them, but their imagination allowed them to apply their knowledge to achieve these triumphs With our imagination as our super power, put people on Mars, cure cancer, end climate change and do things beyond our wildest dreams If you don't know how to begin, numbers of those before us didn't know how to start Every day, inch towards what you desire to achieve

The clarity surfaces after you begin on the journey Thank you, Virginia Tech, and the class of 2019 for an unforgettable few years and a lifetime of memories Let's go: Hoakies! Let's go: Hoakies! Let's go: Hoakies! Congratulations [ Applause ] >> [Recessional]

>> Test test test [Music: Pomp and Circumstance] [ Applause ] DIANE ZAHM: Please stand for the passing of the Colors and the singing of our National Anthem by Jonathan Elmore JONATHAN ELMORE: Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? [ Applause ]

PRESIDENT SANDS: Please be seated Good afternoon On behalf of the university community, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the fall 2019 graduate commencement exercises We want to thank our governing body, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors led by Rector Horacio Valieras, for their deep commitment to the university I also want to welcome Dr

John Ferris, Faculty Representative to the Board, who is with us today Please join me in recognizing the university's Board of Visitors [ Applause ] Through this ceremony, we recognize your significant achievement and celebrate your talents, skills, and hard work It's also important to note that these students would not have achieved their goals without the teaching, guidance and mentorship of Virginia Tech's outstanding faculty

I would now like the faculty to please stand and be recognized [ Applause ] Just as crucial as the role of the faculty, the supporting cast of family, friends, and community members behind each graduate student deserve recognition Would the parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, sisters/brothers and partners/spouses and children please stand so we can congratulate them as well? [ Applause ] FOERS Graduate students are important to the university's research, teaching and engagement missions and are able to earn degrees in Blacksburg, at locations across the Commonwealth and online

During the summer and fall semesters, 1,201 students earned advanced degrees and certificates from an offering of 89 master's and 70 doctoral programs in eight colleges There are approximately 300 graduates here today As part of the graduate commencement, we invite an outstanding graduate student to provide a brief message on behalf of the graduating student body, followed by the keynote speaker to provide reflections and perspectives It is now my pleasure to present Virginia Tech's Executive Vice President and Provost, Cyril Clarke, who will introduce the speakers [ Applause ]

CYRIL CLARKE: It is my pleasure to introduce our graduate student speaker, Najla Mouchrek Najla will receive her Individualized Interdisciplinary PhD today, becoming the first person in the history of Virginia Tech to earn this highly specialized and innovative degree Her doctoral research has focused on youth studies and human-centered design

After a 17-year career in public universities in Brazil, Najla came to Virginia Tech where she worked for four years in academic affairs, supporting student-centered programs and initiatives, and systemic change strategies She now serves as the program director for Interfaith Leadership and Holistic Development, applying her skills in human-centered design to create meaningful experiences for Virginia Tech students, with a focus on interfaith engagement and purpose-driven learning and educational exploration Please join me in welcoming Najla Mouchrek [ Applause ] NAJILA MOUCHREK: Thank you, Dr

Clark for the introduction Good afternoon! It is such a pleasure and an honor to be speaking to you today On behalf of all graduates, I would like to thank President Tim Sands, Provost Cyril Clarke, Dean Karen DePauw, our advisors, faculty and staff members, family, and friends for joining us in this special occasion It is with deep respect and gratitude that I thank all of you for your continuous support to me and my fellow graduates during this journey My heartfelt congratulations to all graduates! We know the amount of hard work, perseverance, creativity, endurance, and collective support that was needed to complete these Graduate degrees and certificates

We receive today an advanced degree from a top university Together, we compose this enormous and greatly diverse pool of highly skilled professionals walking back to find new ways To integrate this knowledge into the lives of communities around the world Coming to Virginia Tech has changed my life in so many ways I left my life in Brazil following a sense that there was a bright opportunity for growth and development for me out there, and I mean here I followed my husband, now Dr

Wallace Lodges, who came for a PhD in computer science in a new and challenging adventure It was not an easy transition for me, especially because I missed my family every single day I was accepted into the individualized interdisciplinary PhD and navigated uncharted territories Today I share my journey I hope will inspire you I'm thrilled to say that part of my family came from Brazil to attend the ceremony today, my mother, my daughters, Clara and Bertrise

It is to my family that I dedicate this accomplishment During my time at Virginia Tech, I was guided by an aspiration and a wish to support and empower young people to develop their whole selves My young people, my daughters, were my most intense source of inspiration, so close, even geographically apart At Virginia Tech, I had the opportunity to create my own course of studies, combining youth development and human-centered design I had amazing guidance and support from my advisory committee

I learned a great deal why working as a graduate student in academic affairs, I met very good friends and remarkable people from many different countries, here I found my voice and my opportunity to embody my true self in the world I realized that I absolutely want and need to work for something that is truly meaningful for me Me I want to talk to you about the search for purpose in life The concept of career has shifted, it is not seen as a fixed and stable sequence of stages, as social context continuously changes, career is now seen as individual screens through which we create meaning as we design our own trajectories

More than ever, we need to define by ourselves our motivations, our driving forces, our goals Mira Alfassa said: モA life without purpose is a life without joy Each of us must have a goal The quality of your goal will determine the quality of your life Your goal should be high and wide, generous and altruistic; this will make your life precious to yourself and to others

ヤ Our aspiration can only be accomplished if we carry out a process of constant self-improvement It is within us that takes place the greatest enterprise of all: The continuing development of consciousness The invitation is upon us to transform ourselves and become our Best selves, every day Again, we just earned an advanced degree from this outstanding university Let's ask ourselves: How might we make this degree fit in the grand scheme of things in our lives? How can it serve a greater purpose? If we could choose (and we can), how would we like our work to contribute to the common good? The world (and especially the people in this world) needs so many things right now and along the next few decades

At the global level, at the local level And in universities like Virginia tech, they are founded in the commitment to apply knowledge and service of others So: To what process of change in this world would we like to dedicate our work, our energy, our days? What is the great new thing we want to help to build in this world? Remember: Caring and working for a purpose beyond-the-self does not mean sacrificing the self On the contrary: It makes possible for us to actualize our potential and our dreams Now it is the time to モwish upon a star

" Let your higher aspirations be your guiding stars Now is the time for us to envision our lives the way we want them to be, the way they might be, and take action in that direction Let's create together new and bright visions of possibilities for the future Let's nurture in ourselves and in our communities a sense of optimism and motivation for service Let's put our degrees to work for something that is meaningful for us and beyond us

Again, congratulations on this remarkable accomplishment, Virginia Tech Fall 2019 graduates Our journey continues I wish you the very best on all your future endeavors! Thank you [ Applause ] CYRIL CLARKE: Thank you, Najla It is now my pleasure to introduce our Commencement Speaker

Patricia Raun is the director of the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech, and a professor of Theatre Arts in the School of Performing Arts Having served as department head of Theatre and director of the School of Performing Arts, she is now focused on understanding how the powerful tools of the theatre can be used to develop communication skills for scientists, technology professionals, and scholars ラ Perhaps a provost — helping them become more direct, personal, spontaneous, and responsive Her leadership and teaching include a 2010 Virginia Tech Excellence in Administration Award, a 2011 College of Arts and Architecture Alumni Award from Penn State, and a 2017 College of Fine and Performing Arts Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Nebraska This year, she and her colleague, Carrie Kroehler, received the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Excellence in Outreach Please welcome Patty Raun

[ Applause ] PATRICIA RAUN: Thank you, Provost Clarke What a great day! Congratulations! And thank you to all of the people – administrative staff, facilities workers, campus police, faculty, administrators, friends and families who had a hand in supporting the graduates in this wonderful achievement I want to start by sharing a story from my life As you know, I'm an actor and not long ago I found myself in a sterile laboratory wearing a white lab coat

I was leading theatre improvisation exercises for a group of health professionals We were surrounded by stainless steel tables And beyond the tables were the Array of formerly-living creaturescreatures There was a horse, a snake, a bird, a cat — And in the middle of a particularly intense role-play exercise, a group of three or four people came in to the room with a draped lump and gestured for my attention モExcuse meヤ, they said, モCould we just use this corner table? We need to do a quick dissection

ヤ And I took a breath and thought, モHow the heck did I get here!?ヤ Well, today I ask myself the very same thing The only thing I can come up with is that when Karen DePauw Invited me to be the speaker today and join the stage party, I thought she said cast party This is quite different But seriously, I am humbled and honored by the lovely challenge to share some thoughts with you on what seems to me to be a most sacred day Before going on I want take a moment to acknowledge the fact that the U

S Is mainly a nation of immigrants, and every community, certainly including Blacksburg, owes its existence and vitality to generations from around the world who've contributed their hopes, dreams, and energy to making the history that led to this moment Some who built this nation were brought here against their will, some came from distant places with the hope of a better life, and some have lived on this land for more generations than can be counted I acknowledge the Tutelo/Monacan people, who are the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and live I pay respect to their elders past, present and emerging

ヤ There is a line in a Mary Oliver poem that goes モWhat will you do with your one wild and precious life?ヤ I know that for some of you that's a really annoying question and you have been hearing a version of that more than you wish In preparing this talk I asked a lot people for advice on what thoughts might be useful to you as you set out to explore that question And when I asked the oldest and wisest person that I know, my mother, she said three things, ヤTell them to be true to themselves (And to think before they speak And that no decision is the last decision they will make

ヤ) My mother's words reminded me of a book by Parker Palmer in which he writes about his first encounter with the old Quaker saying モLet your life speakヤ In the book, Palmer wrestles with that phrase モLet your life speakヤ Eventually he settles on an interpretation that suggests that we must each listen to the voice of our lives, what our lives are telling us, in order to live meaningfully and to uncover our vocation I think of it as listening to the still small voice inside that connects all of us with something beyond our own natural self-centeredness

Listening to that voice can help us open to the world I'm not talking about attending to the loud inner critic that fosters fear and shame I am talking about listening deeply to the centered, compassionate voice that gives one courage to risk, and fail, and risk again The voice that allows you acknowledge yourself as a vital part of the sacred oneness of life on this planet That may sound corny, but it's the voice that lets us experience empathy for those around us

Urbanist William H Whyte wrote, モThe great enemy of communication, is the illusion of it ヤ Isn't that true?! We think because we've said something it has been heardラor because we sent the email somebody read it! He goes on to say: モMaybe we, as a culture, have talked enough; but we have not listened And by not listening we have failed to understand the immense complexity of our society-and the great gaps between ourselves and those with whom we seek understandingヤ My academic and professional preparation was in acting, and the intricacies of theatrical storytelling

Over the years, I became more and more involved in administration Initially I experienced it as an intensely creative activity Although, I did develop in those years a relationship with the Latin word, humilitas Over those years, I developed an awareness that institutions are not just, that only people can choose to behave in ways that are humane, compassionate, or fair, or not And they can choose to construct compassionate and human-centered policies, or not

And that is also about listening In any case, after a while the still, small voice inside me made it clear that a change in vocation was due Your vocation is where your great joy meets the world's great needs And now, I'm not a mathematician, but I can recognize an equation when I see one

Vocation = Your joy+world's needs The thing that brings me most joy has always been exploring ways to make the big dark, often scary, void between people narrower and less scary It happens when we actors learn to imagine the details of the life of a character "How would I feel, what would I think, what would I do if I were in this person's position, with all of the given circumstances of their life?ヤ That eager curiosity about the details of the life of another is a powerful engine for the imagination, and through the imagination to a deep sense of connection to other people So, I knew what brought me joy

Now, about the other half of the equation – the world's great needs As we move into the third decade of the 21st century it is clear that the most urgent challenge facing human civilization is a complex and interconnected web They can be thought of as one thing And in order to address this challenge, we must destroy the silos that we've created We must reach beyond professional boundaries

We must include all those impacted, not just those with the wealth and privilege to influence policy It's all bound together Natural resources, migration, Climate change, education, migration, health, economic inequality, inclusion and equity for every single human being, war, energy – they are all aspects of the one challenge – and not a single facet of that challenge can be addressed by an independent discipline or focus or machine Arlene Goldbard writes, モFor a long time we've been sold a story in which machines- their forms, logic, and interchangeability–play the protagonist Those who shaped our largest institutions have been seeking ways to make human beings behave evermore like machines in inhumane systems

They have prized efficiency, and finding value through quantification To the degree this mechanization project succeeds, it makes us miserable Machines have often been a boon to pleasure and freedom, but we need to make use of them, not be controlled by themヤ And so, we must rebuild our abilities to connect, to collaborate, to listen We must repair the social fabric and transcend our mechanization, individual egos, and self-interest

The challenge of our lives cannot be addressed by individual heroes, Saviors, isolated disciplines or competitive means It is going to take all of us to work together beyond the boundaries New ideas and approaches are born, a connected human interaction, across differences of all kinds: Political, racial, cultural, religious, education level, research specialty, we must all become as able to adopt one another's perspective and understand the stories of others as the most insightful actor actor Our future depends on it

no decision is the last one you will ever make This challenge – the challenge of our lives– cannot be addressed by individual heroes or saviors, isolated disciplines, or by competitive means The existential challenges of this world requiral creative, courageous, and humane listeners in all sectors and each one of us needs to lead from wherever we are In committing to this direction in my life, I have stumbled on happiness It is the happiness that comes from unbounded curiosity, about the myriad applications of theatre practice and story

I wake up every day believing my work matters, because every single study of the resilience civilization will require to thrive on the rapid changing planet makes it clear connection is key and overcoming adversity to prepare us for the future, whatever that holds So I ask you that are graduating on this sacred day, what will you do with your one wild and precious life, where is the world's need for your work, where are your joys most relevant, what are you hearing from your life about your vocation? I challenge you to listen to your life, to reach out and build unexpected partnerships with students and colleagues from other disciplines and with people from all walks of life Seek out the understandings they will share with you, and explore how you might let your life speed in new ways Thank you [ Applause ]

KAREN DEPAUW: Thank you, Patty We appreciate your commitment to graduate education and the importance of helping students and faculty to communicate effectively I am very certain that there's a number of faculty and graduate students out there who have experienced and talken your course in communicating science So thank you very much, Patty [ Applause ]

Each year, we select an unsuspecting graduate student for special recognition, and I would ask Bob Edmison to stand Bob is earning his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Computer Science and Applications His Focus is on systems development on TILOS — and he serves on systems engineering Prior to his position, he was the senior research associate for the Virginia Tech software technologies lab In that role, Bob was instrumental in building the current online graduate admissions application as well as the electronic signature system and I know all of you know both the admissions and the ESS system

Each of you in this room, the graduate students, used that And Bob has been the designer of that, a long time friend of the graduate school and we offer your heartfelt congratulations on completing your doctoral degree and we look forward to continuing our working relationship with you Thank you, Bob [ Applause ] there are many other stories and journeys that could be told

Although we don't have time to share each story, I will attempt to highlight some milestones and achievements along the way The individual journey varies, especially given the multiple locations through which we offer graduate degrees, the greater Washington, DC metro area, Roanoke, Richmond, and beyond If you earned your degree from these other locations, please stand so we can recognize you

[ Applause ] Thank you, you may be seated I think it is important that we recognize that graduate education is around the commonwealth, and we think a lot of it go ppgoes on here in Blacksburg, I appreciate the way that you received your degrees I want to acknowledge that Many who have received fellowship or scholarships many received service awards, thesis, and dissertation awards

There are many of you who have earned special recognition as outstanding masters or doctoral students in your college, some of you have been graduate students of the year Some of you earnedal marks of distinction as a graduate scholar, diversity scholar, or Bouchet scholar Some of you participated in the perspectives program and were inducted into the honor's system, the interdisciplinary society and the academy for GTA excellence, many of you have served as a GTA, GRA, or graduate assistant and I thank you for that service Many of you have shared feedback for helping me and the grad school make a better experience for you I realize that not all of you were able to participate in these opportunities, but I know all of you worked hard to earn your graduate degree and contribute it to the Virginia Tech graduate community

So I will ask all of you to stand as I asked the audience to join me in a round of applause in recognition of your accomplishments and thank you for being a part of the VT graduate community Please stand [ Applause ] society, Alpha Epsilon Lambda, or the interdisciplinary You may be seated As we prepare to introduce the candidates for graduate degrees, I want to share a tradition that the grad school began over 12 years ago: The presentation of an original music composition as a gift to the graduating students, written solely to celebrate this day

Today's composition, by associate Professor Dwightbigler is entitled fan fare for brass Please take a few minutes to enjoy the music and the accompanying images and reflections you will see on the screen [ Applause ] PRESIDENT SANDS: We will now begin the conferral of doctoral degrees A very old and special tradition in academia accompanies the presentation of the doctoral degree

The doctoral candidate and the student's major advisor, the advisor who most mentored and supervised the student's research, walk together to the stage, where the advisor places the hood over the head of the graduate By hooding the graduate, the faculty member symbolically welcomes the graduate as a professional colleague, and this professional relationship – and friendship – often continues throughout the graduate's and the mentor's lives KAREN DEPAUW: Will all candidates for the doctor of philosophy and doctor of education degrees please rise? President Sands, I have the honor to present the candidates for the doctor of philosophy and the doctor of education degrees PRESIDENT SANDS: With the power vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and upon recommendation of the faculty, I confer upon you the doctor of philosophy and doctor of education degrees to which you are entitled with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities pertaining thereto KAREN DEPAUW: Please be seated

Will the marshals please escort the candidates for the doctoral degrees and their major professors to the stage for the hooding ceremony? Dr Joseph Merola will now read the names of the doctoral recipients and the hooding professors Receiving the doctoral of philosophy from Agriculture, Robert Bass, hooded by professor Kim Newani [ [Hooding of graduates] # KAREN DEPAUW: Let's give a round of applause to our doctoral recipients! Will all candidates for Master's degrees please rise? [ Applause ]

President Sands, I have the honor to present the candidates for Master's degrees PRESIDENT SANDS: With the power vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and upon recommendation of the faculty, I confer upon you the master's degrees to which you are entitled with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities pertaining thereto [ Applause ] KAREN DEPAUW: Please be seated Will the marshals please escort the candidates for master's degrees And the education specialist degrees to the stage? At this time, Dr

Merola will read the names of the master's degree recipients [Reading of names] KAREN DEPAUW: Please join with me in offering our congratulations to all of the graduates Congratulations! I would like to ask John Torget, Senior Associate Vice President for leadership gifts and annual giving, to share congratulations and a message on behalf of the alumni JOHN TORGET: Thank you, Vice President

Congratulations graduates I am so pleased to be the first to welcome you as alumni of Virginia Tech! [ Applause ] You join more than a quarter of a million Hokies around the world who are part of the alumni family These Hokies ラ because of their experiences here ラ are solving problems, serving their communities, and changing the world every day As graduate students so many of you have already served this community ラ as researchers, teachers, and institutional ambassadors

Thank you You have showed others how to live Ut Prosim and I have no doubt that will continue long after graduation As the newest class of Hokies, please remember becoming an alumna or alumnus is a milestone within the context of a lifelong relationship with the university This will forever be your home Moving forward, you can stay involved by finding your local alumni chapter, attending an alumni event on campus or in your community, networking with fellow Hokies, and more

On behalf of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, congratulations! welcome to the community! [ Applause ] KAREN DEPAUW: As a final note, I would like to call upon Dr John Ferris, president of the Faculty Senate, to bring a brief message of congratulations on behalf of the university Faculty JOHN FERRIS: Thank you, dean Depawalk, I'm afraid the simplicity of what I have to say will disappoint you, but here it is: Do the right things for the right reasons First recognize that none of us got here by ourselves, and be grateful and recognize that

As a speaker at a previous commencement ceremony said, all that we are, we owe The way you pay back is to use the gifts to benefit those around you, not just yourself, to pay it forward And by the right thing I don't mean anything radical, but telling the truth, standing up for the underdog and following commitments If you do this, there will be unhappy faces in the short term but they will vastly out weigh If you live this way, you will have the benefit of knowingia live your life as a way you should, a private boon and public gift for people who recognize your moral basis through words and deeds, after all, they are human beings that understand integrity because that is what they do

In the long term, it builds understanding, respect, trust, and love, and that's how you can make your corner of the world a little better Well, I imagine now you are wondering how long I'm going to keep on talking, I will sum up by saying, do the right things for the right reasons and don't fear the consequences And I will finish by congratulating all of you on behalf of the faculty at Virginia Tech and thanks to family and friends for the support We wish you all the best, thank you [ Applause ]

Thank You, Professor A special thanks to Dr Merola as the Reader of Names, to the faculty ushers and marshals, to Jonathan Elmore, and to Dr Jay Crone and the members of Virginia Tech Brass Ensemble for their part in this afternoon's ceremony Now, please stand until the stage party has recessed

With the recessional, our ceremony will be concluded Thank you for joining us, and have a safe trip home [ applause ]

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