‘Work toward that common good’

Published 1:19 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rain clouds held off for much of Saturday’s commencement ceremony at Longwood University before releasing a downpour amid cheers from the nearly 1,000 students in attendance who benefitted from a charge from Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam, according to a school press release.

The release noted that Northam told Longwood graduates 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 degree 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.”

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School officials cited in the release that 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.” The release noted that this same message was also shared at Friday night’s graduate commencement ceremony, where Joan Brock, a 1964 Longwood graduate, 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, officials highlighted in the release. 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 release stated.

“The 21st century beckons, and I take great hope in this next generation,” he said. “Lancer Class of 2018, I take great hope in you.”

The release noted that 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, the release cited. Graduates’ families from across the world, from Estonia to Saudi Arabia, were in attendance to celebrate the students’ achievement.

The release also highlighted a variety of accolades handed out to students and faculty.