Students, families and guests attending the Third Year Ceremony heard a variety of speakers including University President Jim Ryan and were able to pick up their class rings at John Paul Jones Stadium on Friday afternoon. Third Year Ceremony is a longstanding University event that commemorates the completion of the first half of a class’ undergraduate studies.
The event, organized by Third-Year Council — in conjunction with the Alumni Association and the Division of Student Affairs — centers around the distribution of class rings to students, but families who had not purchased class rings were still welcome to attend.
The opening speech was given by Kyle Woodson, president of the Class of 2024 and third-year Commerce student. Woodson reflected on the difficulty the class faced at the beginning of their University experience due to restrictions and online classes caused by COVID-19.
“Our class remained resilient through it all,” Woodson said. “We found creative ways to support our community, and we did our best to create systems which we could rely on … and [as] we've begun to seriously consider what we want to do with our lives, the overwhelming experiences of the past two years have left their mark on all of us.”
Ryan spoke next and in his speech said that it was important for students to make the most of the remainder of their time at the University.
“I say this not to make you panic, but you should realize that you're running out of time,” Ryan said. “The good news is that even though you have only a limited amount of time, you still have time. ”
He framed the ceremony as a way for students to both reflect on the past and chart the course for their future. Ryan said that the ceremony is an opportunity for students to make sure they leave the University without any regrets.
“My suggestion is that now that you've seen what this place has to offer, you think about what you still want to do — and you make a point of doing it, you make a point of trying.” Ryan said.
The ceremony also featured a performance from the acapella group The New Dominions — which claims the title of oldest all-gender a cappella group at the University — and a class video that compiled short video memories submitted by third-year students and taken during their time at the Univeristy so far.
Following the performance and video, brief remarks were also made by Robyn Hadley, vice president and dean of students, who reiterated many of the other speakers and then read a poem that described the journey that the Class of 2024 has taken during their time at the Univeristy.
In addition to listening to a variety of speakers, students are able to pick up their class rings — if they purchased one — following the ceremony. The University’s class rings feature Minerva — the Roman goddess associated with wisdom, justice and protecting the arts — holding an olive branch in one hand and a cornucopia in the other.
At the ceremony, Ashley Hall, chair of Third Year Ceremony, announced that the Ring Scholarship fund was able to award the cost of a ring to all 95 applicants who applied for the scholarship. The standard rings cost $540 for women’s sizing and $740 for men’s sizing.
Lily West, chief executive officer and president of the Alumni Association, spoke of the importance of building and appreciating both community and connection while a student at the University, and how that relates with receiving a class ring.
“A class ring is such a symbol of a shared experience and you being here today, sitting together as a class … forms a kind of ring, too” West said. “It symbolizes your connection and commitment to each other … You all are going to continue that connection from the moment you graduate until the rest of your lives together.”