In a commencement ceremony that began with a Lady Gaga reference and ended with beach balls being tossed into the crowd, the class of 2013 graduated from the College of William and Mary May 12.
Chancellor Robert Gates ’65 delivered the ceremony’s opening remarks, describing his commencement attire as “a unique blending of medieval academic tradition and Lady Gaga.”
Gates congratulated the graduates sitting before him in a packed William and Mary Hall.
“To the class of 2013, having passed the last exam, turned in the last paper, and paid the last parking ticket, you have now survived one of the most rigorous educational experiences in the world — well done,” he said.
FBI Director Robert Mueller delivered the commencement address and congratulated the class of 2013 on their achievements. His speech centered around three lessons he had learned from his three “families:” his wife and daughters, the Marine Corps and the FBI.
Mueller urged the graduates to keep these lessons, relating to integrity, service and patience, in mind as they prepare to begin their lives outside of the College.
“Many of you have a career path in mind,” Mueller said. “Many of you have no idea where you will end up. A few of you may be surprised by where life takes you — I certainly was. In the end, it is not only what we do, but how we do it.”
Mueller also commended the College for preparing its students to handle challenges they may face in their professional or personal lives, praising the Honor System for creating a trusting community founded on integrity.
“There will come a time when you will be tested,” Mueller said. “You may find yourself standing alone against those you thought were trusted colleagues. You may stand to lose what you have worked for and the decision will not be an easy call. But surely William and Mary has prepared you for such a test.”
Using personal examples to illustrate the importance of serving others and of remaining humble, Mueller described two people who had inspired him throughout the course of his life: a college lacrosse teammate named David Hackett, who was killed in the Vietnam War after volunteering as a Marine, and Lee Rawls, a former professor at the College who also served as one of Mueller’s advisors when he became Director of the FBI.
Describing Rawls as a mentor, Mueller used the examples to urge the graduates to learn from those around them.
“I encourage each of you to surround yourself with such mentors over the coming years — individuals who will make you smarter and better, those who will recognize you and challenge you in new ways,” Mueller said. “And one day, wittingly or unwittingly, you will serve as a mentor to someone in your life.”
Mueller, Physicist Warren W. Buck III, M.S ’70 ’Ph.D ’76 and Colin G. Campbell, president of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, were awarded honorary degrees at the ceremony.
Brian Rabe ’13 received the Lord Botetourt Medal, which is presented to a graduating senior who exemplifies distinction in scholarship. Rabe maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout his time at the College, receiving degrees in biology and chemistry.
The James Frederic Carr Memorial Cup, which is given to a graduating senior demonstrating superior character and leadership, went to Michael Schilling ’13. Schilling, who double-majored in linguistics and mathematics, also served as the president of the College’s chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary while working as head resident for Ludwell.
“His vision and leadership have made a significant difference for the better in the quality of life in our residence halls,” College President Taylor Reveley said.
Bailey Rose ’13, Kevin Barrett J.D. ’13 and Associate Vice President for University Development Earl Granger III received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards, which go to three people who have dedicated their time to helping others at the College.
Professors Lawrence Leemis and Megan Tschannen-Moran were awarded the Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. Awards for Sustained Excellence in Teaching, while Ruth Hines won the Duke Award for her contributions as a College employee.
Instead of emphasizing individual recognition, however, student speaker Devin Braun ’12 M.P.P. ’13 encouraged the graduates not to be afraid to pursue careers that may not lead to worldwide acknowledgment.
“In a society where great deeds are accomplished collectively, we have to be willing to do things that other people may not notice,” Braun said.
Braun described the uncertain world that the class of 2013 will face upon graduation, listing problems such as the economy and decline of American dominance, emphasizing the need for graduates to take action.
“Surprisingly, as a public policy graduate, I don’t have all the answers to these problems, but I’m willing to bet that the solutions lie in doing, not in posting, liking, sharing or tweeting,” Braun said. “It is this doing that we as College of William and Mary graduates are uniquely positioned for.”
Reveley also discussed the potential for change, encouraging the graduates to adapt while remaining true to themselves.
“Expect to remain under constant construction and welcome the opportunities that come with that constant recreation,” Reveley said. “But also know what not to change even as everything else does.”
One commitment Reveley encouraged graduates to retain is their tie to the College itself.
“This College will always care about each of you — it always will — and you should care about it,” he said.