Students at Commencement!

This week, UNC Greensboro’s 2022 May Commencement and Doctoral Hooding Ceremony welcomed 2,838 new graduates into the Spartan alumni family at the Greensboro Coliseum and UNCG Auditorium.

2,137 bachelor’s degrees, 598 master’s degrees, and 103 doctoral degrees were conferred, including 78 to international students.

Their path was not easy; their academic journeys were in the midst of a global pandemic with challenges in all parts of life, but these Spartans persevered with courage and dedication to their chosen paths and future professions.

“As I am looking at you, see not just you, but all of your hard work,” said Faculty Senate Chair Sarah Daynes who gave welcoming remarks. “All the papers, exams, theses and dissertations, internships, hours in the lab… Graduates, I also see your support networks – your loved ones, your families, your friends, your neighbors. Do not forget to thank them and to tell them how important they are to you, every chance you get. I look at you today and I see something else. A global pandemic that changed your lives and our campus. But that did not stop you. Class of 2022, what an achievement. Your faculty are so proud of you.”

“If you can graduate during a once-in-a-century pandemic, you can do anything,” offered Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. in his opening remarks. He praised the new Spartans’ perseverance and noted particularly the first-generation graduates who completed their degrees only online, and the students who have been the first in their families to go to college. “This is how we transform lives… It’s not just about you today but about the legacy you’re starting for your family.”

Broadway legend Beth Leavel ’80 MFA delivered the keynote address to the graduates at Friday’s ceremony and was awarded an honorary degree. Leavel has performed in 13 shows on Broadway, and currently, she is preparing for the lead role in Elton John’s musical adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada,” which will open in Chicago before heading to Broadway.

Leavel reflected on her time at UNCG earning an MFA in acting and directing, getting to know faculty and students she admired in an environment she cherished, one in which she “loved to go to class.”

Her advice for Spartans?

  1. Be prepared.
  2. Be on time.
  3. Be kind

“I’m very proud of you, Class of 2022,” Leavel told them. “You’re going to be okay – you’re actually going to be fabulous. Go and change this world!  We need your gifts, your talents, your hearts –  we need your singularity.”

At the end of her speech, Leavel called her favorite UNCG professor, Dr. Joy, on speakerphone, so that the Class of 2022 could greet him.

“Teachers, you have no idea how you can change lives,” she concluded amid cheers from all corners of the arena.

Dennis W. Quaintance and Nancy King Quaintance of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels also received honorary degrees for their innovation, hard work, and service within the local hospitality industry.

Students who spoke included Student Government Association President Hazael Mengesha and Speaker for the May Class Peyton Upchurch, who offered the following reflection:

“I commend everyone in this room for getting to where you are today – whether you are a graduate or you’ve been part of a graduate’s support system, we have been through a great deal in the last several years. The sense of connection and belonging that the UNCG community has provided, however, has not wavered. Every single person in the room this morning has had a hand in making that happen. The value that we all place on solidarity – on getting through hardships together, has only gotten stronger, and that is absolutely something to celebrate.

My hope for each of us is that we walk away from our time at UNCG knowing that the community that exists here does not go away with the completion of a degree. The people, the moments, and the lessons learned that define our time here stick around to remind us of what we’ve achieved with the support of one another.

So, wherever you’re headed after today – whether it’s graduate school, a new career, or if you’re like me, and you’re not sure yet, remember: you have an entire community cheering you on.”

Congratulations to our graduating Spartans! Check out highlights from the ceremonies below, and stay tuned for a recording of the livestream at commencement.uncg.edu.

Story in Campus Weekly by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications

Videography by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications