May 07, 2022
By Joe Garvey, Jonah Grinkewitz and Amber Kennedy
Old Dominion University held its 136th launch drills May 6-7 at Chartway Arena at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Over the two days, nearly 3,000 students received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at four ceremonies, each featuring its own keynote speaker, including award-winning actress Angela Bassett.
At each ceremony, Provost Austin Agho recognized the 754 distance education graduates, earning 423 bachelor’s degrees, 269 master’s degrees and 62 doctoral degrees.
Bassett, who received an honorary doctorate of human letters (honoris causa), told the graduates of the College of Arts & Letters at the first ceremony on Friday afternoon that they had obtained degrees from “an institution where young women and men have been nurtured and prepared to become strong and resilient leaders.”
She urged graduates to embrace leadership and the challenges it can bring.
“When I talk to graduates, I often compare the road to leadership and legacy to learning to walk in your shoes, rather than trying to fill someone else’s,” Bassett said. “And I say that because when we buy a new pair, it takes a while for those shoes to really feel like ours. By that, I want you to be comfortable being uncomfortable so as you enter this new chapter. I want you to be mindful as you navigate life outside of ODU. I want you to be thoughtful in making decisions about these next steps in your journey.
She encouraged them not to be afraid to take risks.
“As you step out into the world today as graduates, always remember this: The great poet Nikki Giovanni once said, ‘I really don’t think life is about ‘I-could-haves’. -be”. Life is only about I- I tried to do. Failure doesn’t bother me. But I can’t imagine that I would forgive myself if I didn’t try.
She said she believed graduates were “built for greatness.”
“Monarchs, you have not come so far to come this away,” she said. “You have come here to excel. You have come so far to rise to heights that you, your parents, your grandparents, your ancestors have sacrificed and prayed for you to reach.”
“Oh, when the world says no to you, and it will, you will remember that no is not a passport to failure but it is a gateway to endless possibilities you have not yet considered or you haven’t thought yet.When the world tells you’re not good enough, remember that you were nurtured for success at an academic university from a long line of alums who contributed change the world. Wear this. Wear it with you everyday as a reminder to endure, work hard, push forward and claim your place at the table of purpose and prosperity. Even in the face of some uncertainties and adversities of life.
Sachin Shetty, executive director of the Center for Secure and Intelligent Critical Systems at Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center at ODU, which conducts research at the intersection of computer networks, network security, and machine learning, said to masters and doctorate. graduates that he “stumbled upon this field by chance”.
“I was originally interested in doing cloud research,” said Shetty, who earned her Ph.D. from ODU and worked at the University for six years. “And in one of my experiments, I noticed that when I accessed the photos I had uploaded to the cloud, they moved to a different location when I checked them the next day.”
This led him to find ways to protect information and “give users the knowledge they need to protect their information”.
He relayed to the graduates three lessons learned from his experience: to be curious, in constant and adaptive learning mode.
For example, he said he has worked on security and privacy issues in many professions, including lawyers, economists, sociologists, philosophers, psychologists, and even dance teachers.
“They helped me look at the issues I saw from various angles and also opened up new areas of exploration,” he said. “These experiences changed my perception of cybersecurity from a technology-centric issue to a human issue.”
If you can keep that mindset, “Amazing things will happen. I’ve found that to be true in my career.”
Shetty thinks ODU is a great place to learn those problem-solving skills, especially given how the University has evolved over the past two decades.
“I am proud to have graduated from this university,” he said. “Watching him grow since 2002, when I first set foot on this campus, has only made my pride in being a monarch so much stronger.”
Strome College of Business and Darden College of Education and Professional Studies Undergraduate Ceremony
ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., congratulated the graduates of Strome College of Business and Darden College of Education and Professional Studies.
“Know that, like everyone here today, I am immensely proud of you and know that you are ready for the challenges ahead,” he told the graduates.
“The great discoveries to be made will be made by you. The foundation of a better society begins with you.”
“You have now graduated from one of the best universities in the country,” he said. “Your degree from Old Dominion will take you far – as far as you want to go.”
Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, College of Health Sciences, College of Science and School of Cybersecurity Ceremony
Howard Kern, President and CEO of Sentara Healthcare, shared his 42-year journey from “the absolute bottom rung as a member of management” to the head of the 134-year-old healthcare system serving Virginia and North Carolina.
“To achieve great things, you have to start with a vision or a dream of what you want to achieve. You need aspirations to guide you on your way,” Kern said. “I set my goals high. I wasn’t really sure I could achieve it, but if I had set my goals lower, I wouldn’t have worked to achieve what I achieved.”
He offered some advice for graduates to improve their chances of success: be clear about personal values and ethics; demonstrate leadership based on these values; commit to hard work; and be willing to take risks.
“In risking, I’m not suggesting big bets or wagers or big losses. I’m suggesting you be bold,” Kern said.
Kern, who received a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) at the ceremony, ended by encouraging graduates to engage in lifelong learning.
“As Mark Twain once said, ‘I never let school interfere with my education.’ Make your education and learning a lifelong experience.”
Severe burns, a medically induced coma and frequent surgeries did not deter the medical laboratory science student from completing her studies. (After)
Jasmine Tutt used a partnership between ODU and Newport News Shipbuilding to graduate and immediately enter the workforce. (After)
The social services major is working to help other foster people follow his path. (After)