Virginia Tech Graduates 5,000 Students

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Virginia Tech President Dr. Charles Steger gave the commencement address Friday afternoon.  It was his first as president. Steger announced on Wednesday that he will retire as president, as soon as the Board of Visitors finds a successor.

About 5,000 Hokie graduates were honored, including 4,333 bachelor's degree candidates.

"You need to have a plan for your life, but at the same time be alert to new opportunities as they arise and be open to altering your path," Steger said. "Sometimes, great opportunities come just from being in the right place at the right time. Most importantly, be mindful that your successes are seldom, if ever, solely your own."

As he talked to the graduates, Steger touted the university's accomplishments during his 14 years as president: growing research, expanding financial aid opportunities, adding more than three million square feet of space and increasing student diversity. He thanked the Virginia Tech community for making it possible and urged graduates to be lifelong learners.

"You cannot imagine the journey that lies before you," he said. "It's going to be challenging, but I assure you it will be exhilarating, so find your passion and dare to pursue it."

Graduates get their diplomas at ceremonies today and tomorrow.

"I'm ready to start the next phase of my life, kind of get a career going" said graduate Jessica Edwards.

Jessica and Lara Edwards are sisters, born 15 months apart, and they are both graduating from Virginia Tech.

"We always liked to do our own thing growing up, so it's kind of odd that we ended up at the same college," said Lara Edwards.

They followed after their parents, who were also Hokies. Together, they attended the university commencement ceremony.

"I couldn't pick anybody better to share it with, it's a sister thing" Jessica said.

But Saturday, the family will be split up. Lara will get her degree from the college of Agriculture and Life Sciences at 11:00 a.m. at Cassell Coliseum. Thirty minutes later, Jessica walks during the Architecture and Urban Studies graduation at Burruss Hall. Family and friends will have to pick which ceremony to attend.

"In a perfect situation everybody would be right there to celebrate with you, but we'll work it out" Jessica said.

"It was kind of disappointing because we wanted them to be able to see both of us." Lara said. "But we figured we'd strategize and have someone with a video camera be able to go back and watch each and every one of us."


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