May 19, 2013
Under a light mist of rain, UVa's Class of 2013 was officially able to graduate on Thomas Jefferson's Lawn. It was the 184th edition of UVa's Final Exercises.
The University of Virginia gave out 6,363 degrees on Sunday.
"We welcome you to the family of alumi of the University of Virginia. Congratulations!" said Peter Grant, chair of the Alumni Association Board of Managers, who told graduates to seek out the more than 200,000 UVa alumni spread through all 50 states.
More than 30,000 people came to grounds this weekend to celebrate.
"The best part about today is that I'm proud of my boy, he finally made it. He graduated," said Sylvia White of her son, Bernie.
Students were thankful the rain held out on Sunday so they could go through with the traditional and historic Final Exercises. The Lawn filled up with graduates and their loved ones to watch them finally receive their diploma.
"It's really exciting to finally meet the finish line," said Logan Daniels.
"And I'm at the finish line with him. Celebrating and just enjoying so much of the day it's been wonderful," said Daniels' mother, Sandra.
Something new this year involved the 80 students who completed their degrees in three years and the two students who finished in just two years. They were recognized with orange stoles.
"You don't know if you're happy or sad. I've felt a range of kind of everything for the last couple of hours," said Shane Cook.
Bachelors, masters and professionals are now all heading in very different directions as they enter the real world but their foundation is the same.
"Honor, service, diversity, leadership and accountability for yourself and your peers," President Teresa Sullivan said during the ceremony.
Former U.S. senator and secretary of the navy, Jim Webb, was the keynote speaker for Sunday's event.
"Here's the American way. If you want it, go get it," Webb told graduates. "Work hard. Play hard. And whatever you do with your lives, never lose sight of the fact you have been blessed to live and work and be a part of this historically unique country called the United States of America."
UVa's 11 individual schools had their own ceremonies following the event on the lawn to call graduates names and hand out their diplomas.