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W&M graduates encouraged to live lives of integrity, service

  • Integrity, service, patience
    Integrity, service, patience  FBI Director Robert S. Mueller spoke at William & Mary's Commencement ceremony on Sunday. He encouraged the graduates to live lives of integrity, service and patience.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • A day to remember
    A day to remember  Graduates congregate at the Wren Building to begin the senior walk across campus.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • On their way
    On their way  Graduates walk through the Wren Building on their way to the Commencement ceremony at William & Mary Hall.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Greeting the graduate
    Greeting the graduate  FBI Director Robert S. Mueller (right) shakes hands with Curt Mills '13, who was the Student Assembly president this year, while President Taylor Reveley looks on.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • With love
    With love  A graduate blows a kiss to someone in the audience during the Commencement ceremony.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Honorary degree
    Honorary degree  W&M alumnus Warren W. Buck III M.S.'70 (second from the left), Ph.D.'76, a prominent physicist and chancellor emeritus of the University of Washington-Bothell, received an honorary doctorate of science. He is pictured with W&M President Taylor Reveley (left), Chancellor Robert M. Gates '65 and Rector Jeffrey B. Trammell.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Honorary degree
    Honorary degree  Colonial Williamsburg President Colin G. Campbell (second from left) received an honorary doctorate of humane letters.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Student speaker
    Student speaker  Devin Braun '12, who received his master's degree on Sunday, served as the student speaker at the event.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Chancellor's remarks
    Chancellor's remarks  Chancellor Robert M. Gates '65 told the graduates, "You have now survived one of the most rigorous educational experiences in the world."  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Closing remarks
    Closing remarks  President Taylor Reveley told the graduates that "to live life meaningfully is to change."  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Making memories
    Making memories  The graduates met up with family and friends after the ceremony to take photos.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Diploma in hand
    Diploma in hand  Approximately 1,290 undergraduates and 638 graduate students received degrees as part of the day's events. Diploma were distributed to individuals at departmental ceremonies following the main event. Those ceremonies came at the event of a weekend full of events.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Donning of the Kente
    Donning of the Kente  Graduates embrace at Friday's Donning of the Kente ceremony. The event celebrates academic achievement among students of color.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Singing by candlelight
    Singing by candlelight  Students sing during Saturday night's Candlelight Ceremony.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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As they begin a new chapter in their lives, the members of William & Mary’s Class of 2013 should seek to live lives of integrity, service, patience and humility, said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller on Sunday.

“We must all find ways to contribute to something bigger than ourselves,” Mueller told nearly 2,000 graduates. “We must cultivate patience, each and every day. We must maintain a sense of humility. And most importantly, we must never, ever sacrifice our integrity.”

Mueller served as the keynote speaker for William & Mary’s 2013 Commencement ceremony in William & Mary Hall. He received an honorary degree at the event, along with Colonial Williamsburg President Colin G. Campbell, and W&M alumnus Warren W. Buck III M.S.’70, Ph.D.’76, a prominent physicist and chancellor emeritus of the University of Washington-Bothell.

William & Mary Chancellor and former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates ’65 also spoke at the event, drawing laughter from the crowd by describing his Chancellor’s regalia as “a unique blending of medieval academic tradition and Lady Gaga.”

{{youtube:medium:left|pwdcvvdPebg, 2013 Senior Walk Across Campus}}

Addressing the graduates, Gates praised them for their hard work.

“You have now survived one of the most rigorous educational experiences in the world,” Gates said. “In doing so, you’ve had the experience of not only of a first-rate academic education, but the very special opportunity to be part of an institution rooted in the very earliest history and fundamental governing principles of the United States.”

Integrity, service, patience

Mueller drew on his experience with his three “families” – his wife and two daughters, the Marine Corps and the FBI – for inspiration for his speech. No matter where life may take the graduates or what “families” they may find themselves part of, integrity is vital, Mueller said.

“In the end, it is not only what we do, but how we do it,” he said. “Regardless of your chosen career, you are only as good as your word.”

Integrity is also a core value at William & Mary, he said.

“William & Mary was the first college in the country to have a student-run honor system,” he said. “That honor system, and the community of trust it enables, rests on one precept – and that is integrity. Your professional and your personal success will rest on that same precept.”

Mueller went on to tout the importance of service, reflecting on his time in the Marine Corps and his work with the FBI.

“The way in which you choose to serve does not matter, only that you work to better your country and your community,” he said. “Each of you must determine in what way you can best serve others, a way that will leave you believing that your time has been well spent.”

Also stressing the importance of patience and humility, Mueller closed by telling the graduates that, “if we do each of these things, we will have the best opportunity to be successful – personally and professionally – and our time will indeed have been time well spent.”

Awards and honors

Approximately 1,290 undergraduates and 638 graduate students received degrees as part of the day’s events. Several students, faculty, staff and community members were also individually recognized at the ceremony.

Devin Braun, a member of the Class of 2012 who received his master’s degree on Sunday, served as the student commencement speaker, emphasizing the importance of doing good without thought to whether it will garner notice.

“So many people have changed the world for the better without the world knowing who they were,” he said.

Brian Rabe ’13, who graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA and degrees in biology and chemistry, received the Lord Botetourt Medal. Established in 1772 “for the honor and encouragement of literary merit,” the medal is presented to a graduating senior who has “attained the greatest distinction in scholarship.”

The James Frederic Carr Memorial Cup was presented to Michael Schilling ’13, who graduated with a bachelor’s in linguistics and mathematics. The cup is presented annually to the graduating senior "who best combines the qualities of character, scholarship and leadership."

Samuel Lake, who earned his doctorate W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, took home this year’s Thatcher Prize for Excellence, which is presented annually to a graduate or professional student of outstanding scholarship, service and character.

Two people received this year’s Thomas Ashley Graves Jr. Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching: Professor of Mathematics Larry Leemis and Professor of Education Megan Tschannen-Moran.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan awards, which are presented to two members of the graduating class and one person who has “a close working relationship” with the College, were presented to Bailey Clair Rose ‘13, Kevin Norman Barrett ’13 and Associate Vice President for Development Earl T. Granger.

This year’s Duke Award recipient, Administrative Staff Specialist Ruth Hines, was also recognized at Commencement. The Duke Award is presented annually to staff member who exhibits exemplary service and dedication to William & Mary.

Sunday’s Commencement ceremony followed a weekend full of activities, including the Donning of the Kente, the Service of Celebration, the Candlelight Ceremony and an ROTC commissioning ceremony. Graduates received their degrees at departmental ceremonies following Sunday’s afternoon’s main Commencement ceremony.

An anchored life

Before beach balls were launched into the crowd at the end of the ceremony, President Taylor Reveley closed by reflecting on the importance of change to successful people – and institutions like William & Mary.

“Simply put, to live life meaningfully is to change,” he said. “This takes, among other virtues, a capacity to think rigorously, an ability to tackle problems creatively, and an openness to ideas and cultures different from our own. I believe William & Mary prepares its students for rigorous thinking, creative problem solving, and the capacity to keep expanding intellectual and cultural horizons.”

But it is also crucial to know when not to change, said Reveley.

“We need anchors to steady us, especially when the wind howls and the rain pours,” he said. “Each of us has to forge our own anchors if they are to be powerful enough for us personally to hold us when times get tough.”

The W&M president suggested four anchors: integrity (echoing Mueller’s sentiments), a capacity to give and receive love, a willingness to serve (again, echoing Mueller), and belief in something greater than ourselves.

“So, graduates, expect to remain under constant construction and welcome the opportunities that come with that recreation,” he said. “But also know what not to change even as everything else does. Forge powerful personal anchors to hold you true to your core commitments even during times of great change.

“And, of course, beyond the four anchors that I just mentioned, there is one other anchor worth mentioning -- a lifelong tie to your alma mater, the magnificent College of William & Mary. The College will care about you always, and you should care about it.”