‘This is not good­bye’

More than 600 re­ceive their de­grees at VSU

The Progress-Index Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Buet­tner Staff Writer

ETTRICK –The grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies for Vir­ginia State Uni­ver­sity’s class of 2017 didn’t just fill the col­lege’s new Mul­ti­pur­pose Cen­ter. They filled it twice. In his re­marks at the sec­ond of two com­mence­ment ex­er­cises on Satur­day, VSU Pres­i­dent Makola M. Ab­dul­lah ac­knowl­edged the fact that the 135-year-old his­tor­i­cally black col­lege was mark­ing “the first time we’re hav­ing our spring com­mence­ment here in our own Mul­ti­pur­pose Cen­ter.”

The school pre­vi­ously held its fall se­mes­ter 2016 grad­u­a­tion last De­cem­ber in the $84 mil­lion fa­cil­ity, which was com­pleted a lit­tle over a year ago.

The arena seats about 6,000, enough to ac­com­mo­date the grad­u­ates but not all the fam­ily mem­bers and friends who want to cel­e­brate with them, so Satur­day’s grad­u­a­tion was split into two cer­e­monies, one at 9 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m.

Ab­dul­lah con­grat­u­lated

the “640 schol­ars we cel­e­brate to­day.” This year’s graduating class in­cludes six peo­ple awarded doc­toral de­grees, 68 re­ceiv­ing mas­ter’s de­grees and 568 who earned their bach­e­lor’s de­grees.

Korie Collins, se­nior class pres­i­dent, re­minded the grad­u­ates that Satur­day’s cer­e­mony marked not an end­ing but a be­gin­ning.

“This is not good­bye,” she said. “This is, ‘See you later in the land of suc­cess.’”

Key­note speaker Jeff John­son, man­ag­ing prin­ci­pal of JIJ Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, a Bal­ti­more-based mar­ket­ing firm, sounded a sim­i­lar note, urg­ing the grad­u­ates to re­al­ize they were start­ing their “jour­ney into the mar­ket­place of a global econ­omy.”

John­son con­grat­u­lated the grad­u­ates for com­plet­ing their de­grees.

“There are a whole lot of peo­ple who didn’t make it, but these are the ones who did,” he said.

Now, he said, they should al­ways “know who you’re rollin’ with. ... Many of us come from places where peo­ple want to be where we’ve been but don’t want to go where we’re go­ing.”

John­son also urged the grad­u­ates to “know your real value” when go­ing out into the work­place and ne­go­ti­at­ing salaries and work con­di­tions.

Jeff John­son, prin­ci­pal of JIJ Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, de­liv­ers the key­note speech as Vir­ginia State Uni­ver­sity stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff cel­e­brate the graduating class of 2017 dur­ing com­me­ce­ment cer­e­mony in the Mul­ti­pur­pose Cen­ter on cam­pus in Ettrick on Satur­day, May 13, 2017.

Vir­ginia State Uni­ver­sity stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff cel­e­brate the graduating class of 2017 dur­ing com­mence­ment cer­e­mony in the Mul­ti­pur­pose Cen­ter on cam­pus in Ettrick on Satur­day, May 13, 2017. [SCOTT P. YATES/PROGRESSINDEX.COM]

Vir­ginia State Uni­ver­sity stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff cel­e­brate the graduating class of 2017 dur­ing com­mence­ment cer­e­mony in the Mul­ti­pur­pose Cen­ter on cam­pus in Ettrick on Satur­day, May 13, 2017. [SCOTT P. YATES/PROGRESS-IN­DEX. COM]

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