Nearly 1,000 University of West Georgia students graduated during the institution’s Fall 2021 Commencement Saturday – a number that sets a new record for fall ceremonies at UWG.
UWG President Dr. Brendan Kelly spoke on learning and growing through hardship and how experiencing adversity builds strong leadership qualities and character.
“While we celebrate each of you today, it is important for us to take stock of what we have learned from the overturning of our world by the pandemic,” he said. “What matters is not how you got here but that you got here, despite the obstacles and the unexpected circumstances. You rose to the challenge and overcame it.”
Of the 993 degrees conferred to fall graduates, approximately 380 were at the graduate level (one of which was awarded to a student-controlled robot), with the remaining 613 degrees being earned at the undergraduate level. Saturday’s graduating class was the largest fall class in the university’s history.
Commencement ceremonies were held at 9 a.m. for students graduating from the College of Arts, Culture and Scientific Inquiry and the Richards College of Business, and at 1 p.m. for students graduating from the College of Education; the School of Communication, Film, and Media; the Tanner Health System School of Nursing; and University College. All ceremonies were live-streamed.
After highlighting graduates and their achievements while enrolled at UWG, Kelly reminded students that this paramount milestone in their lives serves as recognition – not only of their impressive accomplishments – but also of the discovery of their truest selves.
“Right now, people at all stages of their lives are coming out of the pandemic and thinking about what they want their lives to be and pursuing new aspirations,” he said. “The difference between who you are and who you want to be depends on your courage and the work you put into yourself and this world every day. This is not the end. It is a new beginning.”
Brad Mock, president of the UWG Alumni Association, officially initiated graduates into the association, sharing the university community’s gratitude that the Wolves chose UWG.
“Wherever you’ve been, and wherever you’re headed, know that we are all in this together,” Mock said. “Taking this degree to communities near and far is the next best step. There is value in what you have accomplished, as well as value in what you will accomplish. Stay connected. Share your accolades. Plug in to the vast network of over 73,000 alumni who are here to cheer you on as you enter your next chapter.”
Sydney Severin, president of the UWG Student Government Association, spoke on returning to “normal” following restrictions brought on by the pandemic and how she and her fellow students ultimately grew from the challenges they faced throughout the prior 21 months.
“I’m willing to bet you are more adaptable, wiser, and knowledgeable than you were at the beginning of your college experience,” she said. “These are all things that will help you in your next stage – whatever that may be. This day is to celebrate you all remaining diligent and surviving the pressures, and I can confidently say I’m looking at the future in this class of graduates.”