Many graduations this weekend including Virginia Tech, Sweet Briar, VWCC

Gov. Northam, Hiroshima atomic bombing survivor among the speakers

By Jenna Zibton - Anchor

ROANOKE, Va. - There are many graduation ceremonies happening Friday, May 11 - Sunday, May 13.

Virginia Tech University
Approximately 4,850 bachelor's degree candidates from all the colleges will be honored at Virginia Tech's ceremony Friday.  This year, 1,976 graduating seniors will complete their baccalaureate degree programs with honors, having achieved an accumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 on a 4.0 scale. As it was last year, this year's most popular major among graduating seniors is mechanical engineering. The next four most popular majors are business information technology; human nutrition, foods and exercise; computer science; and finance. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam will deliver the keynote address at Virginia Tech's University Commencement Ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Friday, May 11, in Lane Stadium. More than 5,000 graduates and their families and friends are expected to attend.

Virginia Western Community College
Virginia Western has 789 graduates. The largest number of graduates come from the School of Business, Technology and Trades with 303. 21 high school students earned their degree or certificate while still in high school. There will be 440 graduates attending the ceremony at the Berglund Center on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The commencement speaker is Jim McAden, President of Balzer and Associates, and Virginia Western Local Advisory Board Chair.

Lynchburg College
Setsuko Thurlow, who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in December, will participate in several Commencement Activities at Lynchburg College.  She earned a sociology degree from Lynchburg College in 1955, a decade after she survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The college says Setsuko's story has local interest because her time as a student in Virginia Lynchburg was a turning point. It was the first time she spoke to an American audience to share her story of surviving Hiroshima. When she first spoke out, she received hate mail, but she developed the courage to keep speaking out. That courage has served her well in her global advocacy against nuclear weapons. More than 730 people will graduate Saturday. The procession will begin on the Dell at 9 a.m. This is an hour earlier than past years. The Class of 2018 includes about 419 undergraduates, with 208 Bachelor of Arts and 211 Bachelor of Science degrees. About 130 are graduating with academic honors, including 18 graduating summa cum laude.

Sweet Briar College
This is a historic class for Sweet Briar because the Class of 2018 were first year students when the college announced it was closing. This will also be President Woo's first commencement. There will be 64 graduates including 3 M.A.T.s and 61 undergraduates. The commencement speaker is Nella Barkley from the class of 1955. A pioneer in the field of career coaching, Barkley is the president and co-founder of the Crystal-Barkley Corporation, which guides individuals in finding what drives them and planning meaningful careers.

Patrick Henry Community College
Patrick Henry Community College has a total of 570 graduates (474 are main campus students and 96 are Dual Enrollment). Dr. Chris Parker, CEO of the National Junior College Athletic Association and former Baseball Coach, Athletic Director, and Vice President at PHCC will be the guest speaker. One of the graduates is a service dog. He's been in every class with his owner Jonathan Shauberger, an Information Technology student. Because of his attendance, Artemis will receive his own honorary degree when he walks alongside Jonathan across the graduation stage this weekend.

Wytheville Community College
Wytheville Community College expects more than 334 graduates to participate during two ceremonies. The Class of 2018 includes 429 students who have earned 853 degrees, diplomas, and certificates, with many students earning more than one credential. WCC will celebrate the graduation of its Class of 2018 during two commencement exercises.  Graduates of the college's Health and Occupational Programs will be recognized during the May 12 event at 2 p.m. During the second ceremony at 6:30 p.m., WCC will recognize graduates from WCC's Transfer, Business, and Social Science Programs. Both commencement ceremonies will be held at the Wytheville Meeting Center adjacent to the WCC campus in Wytheville, Va.

Randolph College
162 Randolph College graduates will celebrate this weekend. 148 undergrads and 14 graduate students. Commencement will be Sunday, May 13 at 10 a.m. in The Dell. Rain site is Smith Memorial Theatre, Smith Hall. This year's speaker is associate dean, Paula Wallace. She is retiring this year after 45 years of service. She's the longest-serving staff member.

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