May 15, 2021
Virginia Commonwealth University honored approximately 5,200 new graduates at a universitywide virtual commencement ceremony today.
The ceremony was accompanied by an assortment of in-person and virtual graduation events held this week at the department, school and college levels. During the ceremony, VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., praised graduates for their courage and patience in the face of the “unbelievable challenges” they have experienced over the past year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we’ve experienced the unimaginable since last March, we’ve also encountered your undeniable courage,” Rao said. “We're in awe of the depth of your care for each other as you experienced major world events during your time with VCU.”
Brandee Branche, who received her M.D. from the VCU School of Medicine, served as the Class of 2021 speaker. Branche said the day’s milestone made her think about “all of the events we have endured since our time here.”
“I am inspired by all those who gather here today, as we are unified by academic achievement that will forward our positions in this life to reach our greatest potential and impact others along the way,” Branche said.
Rao told graduates to use their strong voices and the lessons they learned at VCU to advocate for humanity.
“Continue to engage and work with leaders to ensure voices are heard and needs are met,” Rao said. “Don’t stop asking thoughtful questions and using your professional skills to press for better. And remember that you also improve the world by the civil, respectful and professional way you engage with those around you — especially those with whom you disagree. That respect empowers inclusion, allowing diversity of thought and perspective to flourish.”
The ceremony can be viewed at commencement.vcu.edu.
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