Class of 2016 Sets Record for Largest Graduating Class of Monarchs
Old Dominion University recently welcomed over 3,100 students into their alumni community, setting the record for the university’s largest ever graduating class. On May 6 and 7, three graduation ceremonies were held, each lasting about two and a half hours representing the six academic colleges.
Local guest speakers gave commencements addresses offering their own advice to graduating Monarchs.
Representative Robert Wittman of Virginia’s 1st District spoke first at Friday afternoon’s ceremony. In his remarks, Wittman motivated graduates to always be modest and generous with their decisions. He told Monarchs to “elevate yourself through purpose and passion, not through arrogance.” Wittman has served for more than 20 years in government from town councils to the House of Representatives.
Making his speech a bit more humorous, Robert Blue followed mentioning ODU’s rivals. Blue, senior vice president for regulation, law and policy and president of Dominion Virginia Power, said that even though he didn’t go to the university, he was “wise enough not to go to Virginia Tech or VCU.” Blue went on to speak about ODU and Dominion Power’s partnership in setting up the first rooftop solar energy panels on top of the Student Recreation Center.
The next morning, Joyce Roché, retired president and CEO of Girls Inc., gave her remarks. Roché advised the new graduates to “bring forth the gifts they had inside” after they graduate. Roché, who is an advocate for women within the workplace, has published her own business memoir, “The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success,” and speaks frequently about the “empowered businesswoman.”
Students were also recognized for their academic accomplishments. Awards such as the Kaufman Award and the Evon-Broderick award were given out prior to graduation. Christopher Ndiritu, the Student Government Association president who served two consecutive terms, was awarded the Kaufman award, the highest honor that a graduating student can receive. Ndiritu was given this award for his service to the university community as the SGA president, with a $10,000 cash reward accompanying the honor. The Kaufman award runner-up, Dejah Singh, was also recognized.
The Evon-Broderick award was given to Jennifer Alviar and Sandra Nelson of the College of Health Sciences, Iamme Staton of the Strome College of Business and Charles Chiou of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, for their service to both the university and the greater Hampton Roads community.
Showing their support for the graduating class, friends and family filled the Ted Constant Convocation Center at each of the three ceremonies, celebrating the success and accomplishments of the class of 2016.