McDonnell asks UVa-Wise grads to pursue careers in Virginia

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell told the 316 graduates of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise Saturday that their diplomas will open doors to new opportunities,and he urged the Class of 2013 to use those opportunities to boost  Virginia.

“In this competitive global marketplace, a college degree means more than ever,” the governor said. “It is increasingly the key to a successful and prosperous future. The diploma you will receive today is the key to your futures, and it is the key to the future of Virginia.”

Virginia and America depend upon the Class of 2013 deciding that character, integrity, service to others and involvement in the life of the nation will be their guideposts, McDonnell said.

“If you are going to create something, do it in Virginia,” the governor said. “The timing has never been better.”

McDonnell said UVa-Wise offers more and more course offerings and is a leader in fields like nursing, software engineering, and science, technology, engineering and mathematic disciplines.

“The sky is the limit for this region, so I ask you, if you are going to open a business, open it in Virginia,” McDonnell said. “If you are going to be an artist, doctor, lawyer, musician, counselor, teacher, whatever it may be, pursue your profession in Virginia.”

In her first Commencement at UVa-Wise, Chancellor Donna Henry told the graduates that they are well prepared for successful careers, citizenship and service.

“You have a great future to explore,” Henry said. “You have choices to make and much work to do. You have the opportunity and the responsibility to be a leader in your communities, your nation and the world.”

She gave graduates a copy of the book “The Little Prince,” and urged them to read the book to a child. She also urged them to remember some lessons from the book.

“Explore, make choices, take on responsibilities and lead,” she said. “And see with your heart. Look for the essential in life. Nurture your family, your friends and your spirit as you journey away from us out into this big wide world.”

Marcia Gilliam, chair of the UVa-Wise College Board, said the graduates likely attended college to become better educated, productive, and to grow into the person they wanted to be.

“I am betting that your time at UVa-Wise has helped you realize that those were not just the only reasons to come to college, but remain reasons to move forward into your new lives,” Gilliam said. “If you realize that, then our college has done its job. As you keep moving forward toward what is next, remember to learn more, to love more, to do more and to be more.”

Marvin Gilliam, a member of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors, read a letter From President Teresa Sullivan offering congratulations to the Class of 2013.

“The College at Wise and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville share common interests, common commitments, and common hopes for the future of our institutions, and for the future of Virginia and its people, ” Sullivan wrote. “Those hopes for the future are embodied in the students who are graduating today.”

Zachary Holcomb, the honorary class speaker, urged his classmates to remember the words of Winston Churchill when he said that each person is offered a chance to do a special or unique thing that matches their particular talent.

“You, my fellow graduates, have completed an extraordinary educational journey here at UVa-Wise,” Holcomb said. “I assure you that each and every one of you are truly prepared and highly qualified, and your finest hour lies ahead. When that moment comes, don’t be afraid to take advantage of it and change the world.”

Phillip Blevins, the Student Government Association president and 2013 graduate, reminded his classmates that success is not always measured by wealth.

I am told that we cannot take our checkbooks with us after death,” he said. “If you share this belief with me, then you also know that by measuring success in net worth, we are limiting ourselves to only a lifetime of potential success. Therefore, I challenge you to measure your success by the positive differences you make in your community, commonwealth, and nation.”

Alumni Association President David Amos encouraged the graduates to remember that it is important to give back to the community.

“Remember that we all shape the world around us,” Amos said before inducting the Class of 2013 into the Alumni Association. “Remember, you will always be a part of the UVa-Wise family.”

Three members of the UVa-Wise Class of 2013 left Commencement on Saturday as United States Army officers as the College ROTC program held its second commissioning ceremony.

Christopher Lee Davis and twins Taylor Alexandra Bobinski and Morgan Ashley Bobinski, took their oaths and became Second Lieutenants. Davis, who received his degree in Administration of Justice, is now part of the Virginia National Guard. The Bobinski sisters earned degrees in Nursing and are now serving in the Army.


Photo by Tim Cox