Radford University graduates 1,994
Though damp in circumstance, the commencement had an optimistic tone.
Sunday, May 06, 2012
The Roanoke Times
RADFORD - Nearly 2,000 dampish graduates and their families celebrated receiving their Radford University degrees Saturday on Moffett Lawn, despite light rain and overcast skies that shortened the ceremony.
Radford President Penelope Kyle announced at the start that the ceremony would be abbreviated because of the weather, causing the robed crowd to cheer.
"The rain is unfortunate," said Brenda Dawson of Pulaski, who stood under an umbrella with her husband, Roger, to watch their grandson, Jeremy Cox, graduate with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
"We're really proud of him," Brenda Dawson said.
Cox, 29, is a Navy veteran who served in the Persian Gulf on the USS Harry S. Truman and now lives in Christiansburg. He left the service after deciding to marry his girlfriend, Brenda Dawson said.
"They are both really hard workers," Roger Dawson said. "They haven't asked for any assistance from anybody."
Cox has worked more than one job throughout his college career, sometimes putting in a 16-hour shift before going to class, Brenda Dawson said.
He currently works as a security guard at the Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, and hopes to build a career in civilian law enforcement, she said.
In her introduction of keynote speaker Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Kyle sounded a note of hope for graduates, emphasizing that as the state's "job creation officer" Bolling was an appropriate speaker for those starting careers.
"I feel optimism about the future of these graduates that I have not felt for some time," Kyle told the 1,994 graduates, and their families. "The commonwealth is in better shape than we were at the beginning of this recession."
Kyle said she believes the class of 2012 will have more success finding jobs after graduation that other recent Radford classes.
"Radford University has prepared you well," Kyle said. "It's time for you to venture forth from this cocoon."
In a brief speech, Bolling did not talk about job creation or economic development, but rather he emphasized the importance of faith, family and service to others.
Bolling, the son of a West Virginia coal miner who grew up in a mobile home, told the graduates he "never would have imagined getting a chance to lead" others in government.
"You are capable of achieving anything you put your mind to," Bolling said. "Have a vision for your life."
Bolling is expected next year to challenge Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the Republican nomination for governor to succeed Bob McDonnell. Bolling put his gubernatorial ambitions on hold to support McDonnell in 2009, and they joined Cuccinelli in a sweep of Virginia's three statewide offices.
McDonnell has called Bolling his "chief jobs creation officer," and asked him to work on economic development and business recruitment for the state.
According to the Virginia Employment Commission, graduates face a state job market with a nearly 6 percent unemployment rate, and a national unemployment rate of about 8 percent.
Nearly 60 percent of Virginia college graduates will leave school with an average of $23,327 in student loan debt, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.
For additional information contact Ibbie Hedrick at 804-225-2487 or email@example.com.