April 30, 2020

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Celebrates 229th Commencement on a Virtual Stage May 9


VSU recently sent each of its spring graduates a shiny red envelope filled with a commencement invitation and 28-page commencement program, a keepsake tassel, a letter from President Richard A. Carvajal, and Blazer-themed confetti. Students were not expecting the special gift, and they shared their excitement across social media. 

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University will celebrate its 229th commencement with a virtual Graduate School Ceremony and a virtual Undergraduate Ceremony, both at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, at valdosta.edu/commencement.

“We were all heartbroken when the global health crisis forced us to cancel our traditional spring commencement activities,” said Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of VSU. “While this commencement will be a virtual one, it will be no less momentous than previous occasions.

“Our graduates have overcome countless obstacles, including this ongoing pandemic, to do the hard work necessary to earn a college degree. I am so proud of their tireless commitment, and I am inspired by the dedicated faculty and staff who supported these students on their journey to this day.

“While we wait for the moment when Blazer Nation can once again come together, we invite every member of our university community, near and far, to gather around their televisions, computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones and help us celebrate the exceptional achievements of our Spring 2020 graduates. We encourage our graduates to wear their VSU regalia with pride, mark the occasion with celebratory photographs, and never forget how much they have overcome to accomplish this goal.”

Both the Graduate School Ceremony and the Undergraduate Ceremony will feature high-powered student speakers. Each of these students boasts a record of academic achievement, service, leadership, and campus involvement, and they are excited to have the privilege of inspiring a new class of creative, conscious, and caring Blazers ready to meet the needs of a changing society.

Ashlie M. Prain will deliver the Graduate School Ceremony commencement address. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Anthropology in December 2017 and graduates this spring with a Master of Public Administration.

“In such trying times, I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate this class,” shared Prain, a Student Government Association member who served as a graduate student senator and as chairwoman of the Graduate Student Success Committee. “The virtual commencement is a mindful way to come together and share this major accomplishment we have all worked so hard to achieve. This is a class of resilience, perseverance, and compassion. We are strong, and we will blaze on, together, in this moment as we are being called to action. I hope to inspire my fellow classmates with words of encouragement and inspiration.”

Jacob R. Bell, Student Government Association president, and Amea J. Thompson, Student Government Association vice president, will deliver the Undergraduate Ceremony commencement address.

“These times are undoubtedly different, but they do not cheapen or lessen the transformational power of higher education,” said Bell, who graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics and an Honors College Certificate. “The way we celebrate may be different this spring, but our accomplishments retain their incredibly special meaning for each of us and our families, both now and in the future. While our time on campus has been shortened, there is no doubt that we have left our mark on our university. I look forward to joining my fellow graduates and our families as we celebrate our accomplishments three special times this year.”

Thompson, who graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication and a Minor in Advertising and Promotion, said, “If there are any words of encouragement I can offer my fellow spring graduates, it’s a quote by Paulo Friere, which states, ‘Education does not change the world. Education changes the people who will change the world.’ I believe we have been faced with more change in our world in the past few months than we could ever have imagined. But still, I have immeasurable hope for our future, knowing that our graduates will go out prepared to make it better by rising to this unprecedented occasion.”

During the Undergraduate Ceremony, Dr. Robert T. Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, will recognize the six recipients of the President’s Award for Academic Excellence and students graduating with honors.

All graduating students who registered to participate in the spring commencement festivities before April 10 will have a digital slide featuring their recorded name as a digital keepsake they can save and share with family and friends. Students were also offered the opportunity to personalize their slide with a personal quote, photo, and video message, and many of them chose to do so.

VSU remains committed to providing opportunities to invite the spring graduates back to campus for in-person celebrations when public health officials determine it safe to resume large social gatherings. This plan tentatively includes a special graduate recognition during Homecoming 2020 in the fall and an invitation to walk the stage with the fall graduates in December. 

More than 1,500 candidates for graduation will be recognized during the virtual spring commencement ceremonies, including several students who will complete their degree requirements in the summer. VSU hosts commencement ceremonies twice a year, in May and December.

in the news graphic

• The Valdosta Daily Times: https://www.valdostadailytimes.com/news/local_news/vsu-observes-commencement-on-virtual-stage/article_99623a78-8230-5481-921f-d7b767af5243.html

• Valdosta Today: https://valdostatoday.com/news-2/local/2020/05/vsu-to-celebrate-commencement-virtually/

• WCTV: http://transition.meltwater.com/paywall/redirect/hZgYhVZzskP4sQCwhrk9W3Sd33I?keywords=Valdosta%20State

• WTXL ABC 27 (live shows): https://bit.ly/2WnHSoa and https://bit.ly/35WWNZO