ATHENS — For members of the University of Georgia Class of 2022, education has extended far beyond the classroom.
They benefited from completing assignments, passing exams, working in labs, and experiential learning opportunities. They have also learned from facing a global pandemic. And all of these lessons will stay with them for life.
“Yes, you’ve learned a lot in your chosen area of expertise,” Delta Air Lines General Manager Ed Bastian, who gave the undergraduate commencement address at Sanford Stadium, told the graduates. “Most importantly, you now have the opportunity to apply this knowledge through a new lens in our world and in a new way.”
Bastian offered some life lessons to the new graduates. First, he reminded them that character is not built by crisis – it is revealed in crisis. Second, he encouraged them to make learning a lifelong pursuit.
“Please don’t let today mark the end of your ‘learning’ and the beginning of your ‘doing’. Life is a journey of learning,” he said.
Student speaker Karli “KB” Bryant also shared some of the lessons she learned with her fellow graduates. Specifically, she urged them to take a moment to enjoy their successes.
“My challenge to myself now is this one to you: celebrate yourself and celebrate being alive,” said Bryant, a first-generation student at Marietta. “While the big things are worth celebrating, of course, so are all the little things. We cannot sacrifice the joy of the journey for the prospect of the destination. So don’t forget to have fun. Step out into this world and continue to celebrate all aspects of your existence, for it is this happiness that makes life worthwhile.
A total of 7,603 students — 6,054 undergraduates and 1,549 graduate students — met the requirements to walk the university’s early spring. Of the graduate students, 263 were doctoral candidates and 1,286 received their master’s or honors degree. UGA President Jere W. Morehead conferred their degrees, and Natalie Shay Clark, Sarah Marie DelBene, Shawn Thomas Kuhn, and Kelli Brooke McGrail received degrees posthumously.
“Graduates, I hope you will remember the relationships you formed with your classmates, counselors, professors and others you met during your time here,” Morehead said. “These relationships will become even more important to you in the future as you reflect on the profound influence they have had on your life. We expect unusual things from you, as you are a graduate of the University of Georgia.
A total of 109 students were recognized as first honor graduates in undergraduate exercises for maintaining a GPA of 4.0 in all assignments completed at UGA, as well as in all transfer assignments at the college level completed before or after enrolling in university.
“To our graduates, you represent tangible and inspiring proof of the wisdom and foresight of those who wrote the charter of the University of Georgia and thus began in 1785 the great American tradition of public higher education,” said said Morehead. “Whatever your future holds, the time you spend here preparing for life and citizenship gives special meaning to the words in the college charter that call the young people of this state ‘the budding hope of our earth “.
The evening undergraduate ceremony was capped off with a rousing rendition of “Georgia on My Mind” performed by Gabriella Lauren All, a Savannah student majoring in piano and chemistry, which had the crowd rising, as well as a fireworks show above the stadium.