Graduates urged to be bold at 2016 Commencement ceremony

More than 2,000 degrees were conferred at The College of William and Mary's 2016 Commencement ceremony. TUCKER HIGGINS / THE FLAT HAT
More than 2,000 degrees were conferred at The College of William and Mary's 2016 Commencement ceremony. TUCKER HIGGINS / THE FLAT HAT

It was with pomp, circumstance and an unlikely avian metaphor that the Class of 2016 graduated this morning May 14 in William and Mary Hall.

“Great universities have the confidence to be bold, to take well-considered risks, to be the rare duck unlike all the other fowl in their species,” Reveley said to the assembled graduates, family and community members. The Crim Dell ducks, popular this season, were not seen in attendance.

The Hall, which can hold up to 10,000 people according to the College of William and Mary website, was full for the event at which 1,403 undergraduate degrees and 674 graduate degrees were conferred.

The main event of the ceremony was the commencement address delivered by Jill Ellis ’88, head coach of the World Cup-winning women’s national soccer team.

Ellis, like Reveley, urged the graduates to be bold, and not to worry if the path ahead of them seemed uncertain at the moment.

“How I got to be the women’s national team coach is a journey that should encourage the majority of you who have yet to figure out your destination,” she said. “Sometimes a career is a process of elimination. Sometimes it’s someone you know opening a door for you. And sometimes it’s being pulled in a direction you are unsure of.”

Ellis, an English language and composition major, made a well-publicized decision to accept a pay cut from her first job out of college — she was then a technical writer — to enter into coaching. Since then she has been a part of two Olympic Gold Medal-winning coaching staffs, as well as leading the women’s national soccer team to their first World Cup victory since 1999 last year.

Chancellor of the College Robert Gates ’65 L.H.D. ’98 also congratulated the graduates.

“With the last tuition check having cleared, you may be contemplating new disposable income,” he said. “Forget it. The bank of mom and dad is still open.”

He also exhorted graduates to rise above the crude tenor of American politics.

“Be engaged. Be courageous. Be a leader,” he said.

It was not this line, however, that drew chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” from the graduates. The speaker that drew those chants was Ellis — who roused the audience with her selfie-stick.


Honorary Degrees

John M. Bridgeland, Doctor of Public Service

Jill Ellis ’88, Doctor of Humane Letters

Honorary Alumni

John Daly

Michael Fox

Robert Glacel

Sharon and Joseph L. Muscarelle, Jr.

Deborah Spirn

Student Speaker

Seth Opoku-Yeboah ’16

The Lord Botetourt Medal

Isaac Alty ’16

The James Frederic Carr Memorial Cup

Ebony Lambert ’16

The Thatcher Prize for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Study

Kerrigan Mahoney Ph. D. ’16

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards

Julia Canney ’16, Gabriel Morey ’16, Wendy Urbano

The Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. Awards For Sustained Excellence in Teaching

Phillip Daileader

John Graves

The Charles Joseph Duke, Jr. And Virginia Welton Duke Award

Lydia Whitaker


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