A student in cap and gown holds her hands to her face in excitement.
VCU celebrated spring commencement in person for the first time since May 2019. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

At VCU commencement, Charlotte Moss praises persistence of new graduates

VCU has more than 5,000 graduates this spring, including more than 3,000 earning undergraduate degrees.

Share this story

At Virginia Commonwealth University’s spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, keynote speaker Charlotte Moss told the university’s newest graduates that they have the power to make the world a better place – “a place so great we can’t even imagine it.”

“The world needs you,” said Moss, an author and influential interior designer. “The world needs your talent and your energy. It needs your youthful enthusiasm and your wild imagination. The world needs your intelligence and your grace. It also needs your defiance and your ‘don’t quit’ spirit. And it needs your mistakes and your failures, those knee-scraping, character-building moments that make you stronger and resolved to get up and carry on. As a Japanese proverb proclaims, ‘Fall down seven times, get up eight.’”

The ceremony, which was held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, honored VCU’s approximately 5,000 spring graduates, including more than 3,000 earning undergraduate degrees. The university also hosts an assortment of in-person graduation ceremonies at the department, school and college levels.

Moss, a VCU alum, recalled her college experiences and the path she took to build her career, sharing life lessons she gathered along the way.

“You will be defined by how you treat people, your compassion, your tolerance, your open-mindedness, your willingness to listen and observe, and not only to expand your own views, but, in order to understand the other side.”

Virginia Commonwealth University celebrated Spring 2022 Commencement Saturday, May 14 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

New graduate Samia Saleem, a psychology major and chemistry minor in the College of Humanities and Sciences on a pre-medical track, served as the student commencement speaker. She explored the question of, “How do we stay persistent enough to guarantee our own success?”

“The truth is that none of us knows what is truly destined for us, but deep down inside, there's a voice that tells us to take the risk,” Saleem said. “There's a dream we see, where we imagine ourselves living the best life possible. Today, I encourage you to hold on to that dream, no matter how impossible it may seem.” 

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., praised the graduates for their courage and hard work.

“You’re determined and resolute – true to who you are and true to what you believe in,” Rao said. “Most of all, the grace and care you have shown for each other is a model for people everywhere to follow. Through the pandemic, we’ve seen many human responses, some of them good, and some not so good. The VCU community – you –have shown us the best.” 

Michele A. Romano, M.D., and Donald J. Romano received the Edward A. Wayne Medal at the ceremony. The award honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions or provided exemplary services to VCU. The Romanos, who are VCU alumni, are longtime volunteers at VCU and lifetime members of the MCV Alumni Association, and they have generously supported the university, most notably the School of Medicine, the College of Health Professions and the School of Nursing.

In addition, LauraChioma Jones, a sculpture major with minors in art history and psychology, received the Board of Visitors Award, which recognizes the achievements of an outstanding undergraduate student who represents the distinctive attributes of a VCU student. The recipient receives a one-year scholarship in the amount equal to in-state tuition and fees.