His Keynote Is Part of University’s First-Ever Virtual Commencement Launched May 16
“This is certainly not the graduation day that any of you anticipated or hoped for, but it in no way lessens your accomplishments or diminishes your achievements,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in a commencement address to University of Maryland Global Campus graduates delivered via video during the university’s first-ever virtual commencement ceremony, which launched Saturday, May 16.
The governor’s keynote is a main feature of the virtual celebration, which UMGC produced to honor its 13,320 Spring 2020 Commencement degree recipients worldwide in place of the in-person stateside ceremonies originally scheduled for May 14-17 and canceled because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Covid-19 . . . has required all of us to make incredible sacrifices,” said Hogan, adding he hopes that “this moment in our history serves as a reminder to . . . always expect the unexpected . . . things that will hit out of nowhere and test your strength, your will and your character.”
The unexpected inevitably will happen Hogan said and, when it does, he urged graduates to “stay true” to who they are. “Keep people around you who make you a better person and keep you grounded. And always stay positive,” Hogan said.
Graduates, their family members, friends and other well-wishers can “tune in” to the virtual ceremony to see and hear the governor’s keynote, tributes from UMGC’s chief academic officer, deans, faculty and staff, student speaker U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Timothy French—and the conferral of degrees by President Javier Miyares.
Engagement with the site has been strong and brisk. As of Tuesday morning, May 19, there were nearly 1,000 posts in the social media section on the virtual commencement site; they have been viewed more than 43,000 times.
The virtual commencement website also includes a Gallery of Graduates, searchable by degree and program. Among them are 57 recipients of doctoral degrees, including 13 who earned the Doctor of Management and 44 who earned the Doctor of Business Administration or DBA.
In addition to offering a special salute to graduates who are veterans or active-duty members of the U.S. military, UMGC President Javier Miyares singled out all those essential workers who are helping us weather the current public health crisis. “Whether you are a health care professional . . . scientist . . . teacher . . . first responder . . . or one of the thousands who stock, prepare and deliver the food and other essentials on which we depend every day . . . we offer our heartfelt thanks,” he said.
View President Miyares’ address to graduates and conferral of degrees HERE.
UMGC Sr. Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Blakely Pomietto told graduates that their nontraditional commencement ceremony is, perhaps, fitting because it symbolizes their nontraditional educational journey—one complicated by the added responsibilities of jobs, of family or military service.
“Whatever life has thrown at you, your grit, character and commitment ultimately delivered you . . . here . . . where not even a global pandemic can stand in the way of you earning your degree!” she said.
When UMGC reorganized into three discipline-oriented schools in October 2019 said Brian Booth, dean of UMGC’s School of Business, he and fellow deans Kara Van Dam and Douglas Harrison looked ahead to Spring Commencement 2020 and imagined it would be “an amazing in-person celebration” like no other. “It strikes me that often life-changing events, like the present, come with contemplation . . . what matters to us as individuals and to the communities where we live,” Booth said.
“The value and importance of our families, of our friends, and of our co-workers is amplified. This commencement and the value of your degree are shining examples of what is important,” he added.
Kara Van Dam, dean of UMGC’s School of Arts & Sciences, told graduates earning their degrees is a rare and special accomplishment. “Today, you join a community of educational achievers. If you are earning an associate degree, congratulations! Less than half of American adults have done so.
“A bachelor’s? You join the one-third to have earned this. A master’s? Only 13% have walked in your shoes. And a doctorate? Only 2% have earned this highest credential,” Van Dam said. “So, celebrate and know that we are so proud of you!”
Douglas Harrison, dean of UMGC’s School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology, agreed that completing an academic degree is a milestone worthy of celebration. He told graduates: “Your knowledge, your skill, and your courage and determination are needed now more than ever. . .
“You are already vital contributors at home and in your communities, and now, thanks to your hard work and your UMGC degree, you are also better positioned to lead in your places of work.”
“Today is a day of hope and new beginnings,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Timothy French, Bachelor of Arts in English, who regaled his fellow graduates with his message about accomplishment, learning and everyday heroism.
For French, learning stems from three basic qualities that he believes all UMGC graduates have in common—a desire to learn, the patience to solve problems, and the stubbornness to stay the course. He said that in his estimation, their shared commitment to learning demonstrates heroism.
“At University of Maryland Global Campus, we make up a unique demographic. Most of us have established careers—and we maintain daily lives outside of being a student. Studying was our second job,” he said. “Learning with UMGC demonstrates our courage to accept a new challenge that would only add stress and take of our time.”
And that is the point, French said. Heroes stretch themselves. They are not afraid to stray outside their comfort zones. They follow through with their commitments. They achieve “where others fail, no matter how many tries it takes,” he said.
“As we move forward today, we can all be heroes. Have courage in the moment, maintain your ideals,” said French, who echoed Governor Hogan’s words.
Stay true to your beliefs. Commit to acting on your ideals.
View French’s student address HERE.
LaVonya Echols, Master of Science in management, performs the UMGC alma mater following the conferral of degrees by President Javier Miyares. To view, advance the video HERE to the 4:02 mark.
A DIVERSE GROUP OF LEARNERS
Spring 2020 degree recipients hail from every state, the District of Columbia, and 20 countries and territories. They represent various stages of formal education—earning associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees—and various ages and stages of life. Some are just launching careers and others are well into retirement. Here is a snapshot:
Youngest Graduate: 18 years old
Oldest Graduate: 81 years old
Average Age Graduates
Asia 34 887
Europe 35 1,161
Stateside 37 11,277
Total 36 13,320
Doctor of Management: 13
Doctor of Business Administration: 44
UMGC holds separate in-person commencement ceremonies annually in Germany, Tokyo, Okinawa, South Korea and Guam for military personnel and their families who are serving overseas. Those ceremonies have been postponed and will be rescheduled for later in the year.
In addition to the Spring 2020 Virtual Commencement, UMGC will plan an in-person stateside celebration for a later date.
VIEW THE COMPLETE CEREMONY