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As the fall 2021 UNC Greensboro Spartan graduates walked across the stage for their degrees in Greensboro Coliseum today, they also walked toward their futures.

UNCG conferred approximately 1,491 bachelor’s degrees, 350 master’s degrees, and 134 doctoral degrees. Of the degrees awarded, 80 were conferred to international students. 

The new Spartan alumni have proven to be resilient in the face of adversity during a collegiate journey turned upside down by the pandemic, and they will do the same as they take on the next chapter of their lives in a world that is ever-evolving. 

An as the ceremony’s guest speakers shared their collective wisdom, one common thread became apparent: There is nothing these Spartans can’t achieve.

Multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter-producer and UNCG School of Music alumnus Ben Folds delivered the commencement address. Folds enrolled at UNCG in 1985 and met his mentor, former UNCG faculty member and Professor of Piano Robert Darnell, who he credits for guiding him on his musical path.

Folds was awarded an honorary degree during the ceremony after his address, which encouraged graduates to make time for ideas.

“All of the good things I’ve gotten to do in my life have been a result of an idea. You’re ready to go out into the world, as they say. But when you’re living your life, you stop having ideas, because you stop having time for ideas. I encourage you to make time for them.”

Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. reminded graduating Spartans that if they can get their degree in a pandemic, they can do anything.

“I’m here today to tell you that you are smart enough, you are talented enough, you are capable enough. You earned this degree. And you should walk with your head high as you go into the next phase of your lives.”

Both the Student Government Association President Hazael Mengesha and the student speaker Elizabeth Labadens, a new graduate from the Master of Science in Nursing program, shared messages of perseverance with their fellow Spartans.

“It’s truly motivating understanding the physical, emotional, spiritual, and most importantly, the mental adversities every single one of you had to go through to be here today, and it is just a testament to how resilient this class of graduates is,” said junior kinesiology major Mengesha. “I challenge you to go seek and conquer everything that is in your path, just like you have been doing here.”

“Let today be a beginning and not an ending,” said Labadens ’21. “I say to you today: Wherever you plan to go, whatever career path you take, may you always have a spirit of inquiry, an enduring desire to challenge assumptions, be innovative, and never settle for less than excellence.”

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

Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, Jiyoung Park, and Michael A. Ream III, University Communications

Videography by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications

 
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