A new graduate in cap and gown smiles at the camera.
VCU honored its newest graduates at December commencement on Saturday. (Tom Kojcsich, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

At VCU commencement, Rabia Kamara tells graduates: ‘You should be prouder than proud of yourselves’

VCU recognizes approximately 2,450 graduates at December commencement activities.

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At Virginia Commonwealth University’s December commencement ceremony on Saturday, keynote speaker Rabia Kamara, a VCU alum, told graduates that they had reached an important milestone in their lives and their next step should honor who they are.

“Whether you realize it or not, you’ve laid the foundation for what’s next in your journey, even if you don’t quite know what that may be,” said Kamara, winner of Ben & Jerry’s “Clash of the Cones” on the Food Network and the chef and owner of Ruby Scoops. “Whatever it may be, I hope that it first and foremost honors you. Your truth. Your passion and your desire in life. Remember that the best brand is being yourself, according to Ted Lasso. May the years you’ve spent here breathe life into your future as it did mine.’”

The ceremony, which was held at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, honored VCU’s approximately 2,450 August and December graduates. The university also hosts an assortment of in-person graduation ceremonies at the department, school and college levels.

Kamara told graduates they should take time to appreciate and celebrate what they have accomplished.

“Some here may know what the next step is for a fact. Perhaps others may not be sure at all, but guess what? You are exactly where you are supposed to be in this life,” Kamara said. “I implore you to relish this moment of success and happiness at commencement and not feel rushed or pressured to usher in the next one. You should be prouder than proud of yourselves.”

Rabia Kamara in cap and gown standing at the lectern laughs as she looks into the audience.
Rabia Kamara, a VCU alum, delivered the keynote address at the universitywide commencement ceremony. (Kevin Morley, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., said the students have ensured VCU is a place “where the drive to create opportunity and foster success is found in every corner of the university.”

“You all come from different backgrounds and experiences, and VCU is a great place because of that,” Rao said. “Some of you are entering a second or third act in life and are imagining great new things in life. Some of you have overcome some hard things with the help of our supportive community. And some of you chose your path early, and you’ve followed it. You’re going to show the world the great things that can happen thanks to your hard work, talent and unlimited imagination.” 

Highlights of the December 2022 commencement ceremony include remarks from keynote speaker Rabia Kamara and the joyful emotions on display from graduates and families. (Video by Max Schlickenmeyer, Brand Marketing)

Patty and Steve Worley 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 couple’s generosity has contributed to the academic competitiveness of the VCU School of Business and lifted financial barriers for many students. They also have contributed to other areas of the university, and Steve, a two-time VCU alum, served on the Board of Visitors, the VCU Health System Authority Board and as a trustee on the MCV Foundation.

In addition, Richard O. Bunce Jr. was honored with the Presidential Medallion, which recognizes individuals for extraordinary achievement in learning and commitment to the mission of VCU. Bunce spent most of his 23 years of service to VCU directing the audit management advisory services and compliance functions of the university and VCU Health.