First Cohort of Promise Scholars Graduate from Richard Bland College
The 56th Richard Bland College of William & Mary Commencement Ceremony awarded associate degrees to 278 graduates on Saturday, May 11. The Class of ’19 included the first cohort of Promise Scholars who will continue their education at William & Mary this fall. The Promise Scholars program is a joint initiative between Richard Bland College and William & Mary that is designed to reduce financial barriers for high-ability Virginia residents who are PELL eligible. The Promise Scholars program is designed to help students earn two prestigious degrees with little to no debt.
Darleen Ziege of Chesterfield is one of ten Promise Scholars who was selected to present remarks on behalf of the Class of ‘19. Ziege reminded her classmates that they have already accumulated life lessons of love, loss, success, and failure with more to come. “Fellow graduates, you are experiencing the real world every single day and I encourage you to live each day like it holds a great and valuable life lesson,” Ziege said.
Justin G. Reid, a cultural preservationist and civil rights public historian, addressed the graduates as the keynote speaker. The Director of African American Programs at Virginia Humanities presented a message of resiliency in overcoming adversity.
Reid challenged the graduating class to use their own life narratives to help them overcome doubt. “No one is born resilient. Researchers say we can become more resilient through the narratives we share, hear and internalize,” said Reid. “We all have narratives of reliance. Hold on to them. Embrace them. Share them.”
President Debbie L. Sydow commended graduates for making the campus an inclusive experience for everyone. “The rich diversity of the Richard Bland community is one of the College’s greatest strengths. The men and women who make up the student body bring with them vastly different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. These differences enrich all of our lives, allowing us to understand and appreciate a little better the magnificent complexity of our modern world. Thank you for allowing Richard Bland College to be a part of your educational journey. The accomplishments we’re celebrating today are only the beginning of many brilliant achievements that will bring pride to you and your alma mater in years to come.”
Reid, along with longtime Delegate Riley E. Ingram were presented with honorary degrees from Richard Bland College President Debbie L. Sydow and William & Mary Rector John Littel.
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