Sun, rain, and smiles for CLAHS 2022 commencement
May 14, 2022
First came the sun, then the rain, then clouds, then the sun again.
The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences celebrated its newest graduates under a unique set of weather conditions during a May 13 afternoon ceremony that began under bright, sunny skies.
About 10 minutes into the Lane Stadium commencement event, a hard, drenching rain took over, pelting the graduates and the crowd.
Still, as fast as the rain came, the sun remerged, just in time for the approximately 846 Class of 2022 undergraduates to hear their names called and walk across the stage to applause and congratulatory shouts from family and friends.
“You make us proud every day, and you should be proud of yourselves, because you’ve reached an amazing milestone in life,” said Laura Belmonte, dean of the college, during her opening remarks to the graduates.
Graduates from 11-degree granting departments and schools in the college comprised the undergraduate class of 2022.
Liz Hart ‘07, commencement speaker and deputy social secretary for the White House, started to address the graduates just before the rainstorm erupted.
She explained that she has built a career on celebrations, because her job entails planning events for President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. She encouraged her fellow Hokies to take time to celebrate their college graduation and the accomplishment that it is.
“You deserve it, soak it in,” Hart said.
Two graduates also addressed their classmates. They were Jackson Ribler, who double majored in Spanish and national security and foreign affairs, and Maggie-Jo Zeeman, a fashion merchandising and design major who was named the college’s Outstanding Senior of the year.
Belmonte ended her address to the graduates by lauding them for persevering through the past two years of the pandemic.
“You emerge here today as cerebral innovators, tenacious scholars, and most importantly college graduates,” she said. “Thank you all for simply being you, for trusting in our college and reminding us continually why education matters.”