President’s Posts

Michael Rao, Ph.D.

VCU celebrated the Class of 2022 this weekend. It’s an honor to welcome over 5,000 new members to the VCU Alumni family. Below, is my speech to VCU Class of 2022. GO RAMS!

Good morning! It’s a great honor to join all of you – our graduates and your happy families–along with our Board of Visitors, my faculty colleagues, the provost, our deans, staff, and so many other members of our team who make this momentous occasion possible.

Let’s take a moment to applaud VCU Director of Bands and professor Terry Austin. He’s retiring after a remarkable 36 years of service to VCU. During that time, he’s never missed a commencement and always delivered outstanding performances – thank you, Terry!


Today we celebrate one of the most important milestones in your life – your graduation from Virginia Commonwealth University.

As VCU students and members of the Ram Family, you’ve worked so hard to get to the place you are today. We’re all particularly proud of you.

You’re a unique class of graduates. Your years here at VCU have been a time of tremendous change and challenge – but you’ve adapted and you’ve persisted. Scholar, diplomat and Nobel laureate Ralph Bunche said, “You can surmount the obstacles in your path if you are determined, courageous and hard-working. Never be faint-hearted. Be resolute, but never bitter.”

These are definitely qualities that describe YOU – the class of 2022. You’ve cleared so many obstacles – things we never could have imagined when you started!

We’ve seen your courage and hard work. You’re determined and resolute – true to who you are and true to what you believe in. Most of all, the grace and care you have shown for each other is a model for people everywhere to follow. Through the pandemic, we’ve seen many human responses, some of them good, and some not so good. The VCU community — you — have shown us the best. 

You’ve helped us to envision and move toward what a truly public research university should look like. At every opportunity, you’ve insisted that VCU be a place where all people are embraced and cared for – and where all people can and do succeed.

And now, the more than 5,000 of you who are graduating with undergraduate degrees, you’re joining the more than one-third of the people in this country who have earned a bachelor’s degree. You’ll take what you learned at VCU out into the world. You’ll continue to grow and become the best version of yourselves.

Those of you who have earned a master’s, doctoral, or professional degrees – more than 1,400 this spring – you’re now part of the 13 percent of people in the U.S. to have specialized knowledge that will benefit so many people.  

To all of you, whether you’re graduating today with a bachelor’s, or the highest degree you can achieve in your field, we are so glad VCU has been a part of your education and that you’ve been a part of VCU.

We celebrate one of your most important life milestones this morning. Today, you’ll walk out as graduates ready to make the world and the human experience better than ever for all human beings.

There are many paths open to you now. Many opportunities are coming your way. Great things are coming your way. You’ll have to see these things for them to become real. It’s important for you to believe in you.

Whatever you do next, do what your heart tells you to do, not what others may try to tell you to do.

Do the things that are true to who YOU are, and do the good things that you believe in doing.

And as you do the amazing things, I know you’ll do in the future, I feel deep faith that we can count on you to be leaders of GOOD, leaders of civility, professionalism, and all of the things that you know are not only good for you, but good for other people. Just one in every seven people in the world has a degree – as a college graduate, you’re joining that group. You’re a leader in this world – one who will use your influence, knowledge, and skills to move our world and our people to better places–better than we’ve ever seen in our lives.

You’ll set the tone for our future. You’ll create our future. You’ll have power – and as a famous superhero once said, with great power comes great responsibility. Our excitement and optimism for what comes next, comes from you.

We know that you’ll use what you’ve learned at VCU to think critically. To do what’s right. To embrace others with empathy and grace. And we know that you won’t forget who you are. We know that you will stay true to who you are in your own heart, no matter what. 

Because you’re a Ram, and Rams believe in good and make good things happen for themselves and, perhaps more importantly, for others. Rams carry powerful positive energy that helps them to overcome any obstacle.  

We are so happy to rejoice with you today.

Many of us in the room today feel a mixture of pride, relief, excitement, nostalgia, and just overwhelming gratitude that all of you brilliant young people are entering the next great phase of your lives. We’re excited for all of you.

I say “we” because of course I am very proud of you as your president – but also because our son Miguel is here graduating with you. Miguel, Mom and I are so proud of you. We love you.

To all of the families, friends, and mentors who have supported all of our students: THANK YOU. The care you have shown for your students deserves to be celebrated. You are their support system. Thank you for entrusting them to us.

VCU Class of 2022, you’re a beacon, lighting our path to the brightest and most exciting future we’ve ever imagined as humans. We’re so happy to celebrate you and the hope that you carry with you.

Congratulations and GO RAMS!

Categories 21st-Century University, Community, Diversity, News, Periodic update, To VCU, Uncategorized, VCU Health
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