Thousands of Graduates Receive Degrees at UVa’s 185th Final Exercises

May 18, 2014

Over 6,000 students walked down the Lawn on Sunday morning for the University of Virginia’s 185th year of Final Exercises.

"I'm feeling really sentimental," says Margaret Bickley, graduate from the School of Nursing.

"This has just been such a fun culmination of our four years here," says Madeline Graham, also a graduate of the Nursing School.

For many this is the end of a four year journey and a celebration of all they have accomplished as a Wahoo. Now they are moving on, some to further their education and some to begin their careers.

"We got our dream jobs,which is incredible, but we're all parting ways,” says Bickley. “I know we will be friends for life, but this is our last big moment together."

Every graduate embraced the moment during final exercises, including 70-year-old Jerry Reid.

Reid decided back in 2009 that he wanted to finish his education and now he's a graduate of the School of Continuing & Professional Studies, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

"It took me 50 years to get here and it seems like it was over in 15 minutes, but I know for one thing, it was an action packed 15 minutes," says Reid.

He got the entire college experience while at UVa, which also included attending nearly all of the major sporting events as well as joining the Chi Phi Fraternity.

“When people said you're too old to do that, I said age is just a number and I went out and proved it.”

He says he wants to continue to be an inspiration for people who may think it's too late to get their education.

“Just talk them out of the mindset that this is not doable and get them one quarter of the way towards admitting that it is, the rest will take over,” says Reid. “If it's left unfinished, it's going to cause heart burn and old age, so you better get it out of the way.”

Words of wisdom from a man who achieved what many believed was impossible.


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