Family and friends will join graduating students to celebrate one of life’s most cherished achievements as Virginia Tech holds commencement ceremonies beginning Friday, May 17.

The University Commencement ceremony will begin Friday at noon, but gates to Lane Stadium will open at 7 a.m. to accommodate the expected crowd of more than 30,000 guests and graduates. More than 1,200 of those guests will stay in university residence halls during their two- or three-day visit.

Five college or departmental ceremonies will be held Friday afternoon and evening and 22 more will be held Saturday, May 12, at locations across campus throughout both days. A complete schedule of all departmental and college convocation ceremonies may be found on the commencement website.

Virginia Tech will offer live streaming video of both the Graduate School Commencement and University Commencement ceremonies from the university homepage.

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger will deliver the keynote address at the University Commencement ceremony. Approximately 43 associate's degree candidates from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and 4,333 bachelor's degree candidates will be honored during the ceremony.

This year, 1,677 graduating seniors will complete their baccalaureate degree programs with honors, having achieved an accumulative grade point average of at least a 3.4 on a 4.0 scale.

As has been the case for the last several years, this year's most popular major among graduating seniors is biological sciences; 299 graduates will receive this Bachelor of Science degree. Mechanical engineering (255 degrees); psychology (206); human nutrition, foods and exercise (196); and communication (184) round out the top five most popular majors.

At a ceremony to be held Friday evening at 7 p.m. in Burruss Hall Auditorium, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets will honor 145 students graduating from its program. At the same ceremony, 47 students will be commissioned into the U.S. Army, 22 will be commissioned into the U.S. Air Force, and 13 will be commissioned into the U.S. Navy. In addition, 10 students will join the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation.

Bachelor’s degrees to be awarded to students from each of Virginia Tech’s seven undergraduate colleges:

Christoph Ebell, counselor and head of the Office for Science, Technology and Higher Education at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C, will address graduate degree candidates at the Graduate School Commencement ceremony beginning at 8:30 a.m. Friday at Cassell Coliseum. Approximately 1,414 students will be honored at that ceremony – 1,015 master’s degree candidates, 25 education specialist degree candidates, four Ed.D. candidates, 98 graduate certificate candidates, and 272 Ph.D. candidates.

In addition, approximately 93 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree candidates will represent the 30th graduating class of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. The veterinary college’s convocation will be held at 7 p.m. Friday evening in the Commonwealth Ballroom of Squires Student Center.

Virginia Tech's 33rd National Capital Region commencement ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at the George Mason University Center for the Arts in Fairfax, Va. National security expert Austin Yamada, vice president for intelligence research at the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation in Arlington, Va., will speak to approximately 150 National Capital Region graduates.

Steger will preside over the two Blacksburg ceremonies and the National Capital Region event.

The academic procession at both the University and Graduate School Commencement ceremonies will be led by Commencement Marshal Bruce Pencek, social science librarian, University Libraries. Kathleen Hancock, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering and co-director of the Center for Geospatial Information Technology, will serve as commencement marshal for the National Capital Region ceremony.

Student remarks during the University Commencement ceremony include opening reflections from Alexandra Caracciolo of Newtown, Conn., a senior majoring in finance in the Pamplin College of Business and Spanish language and literature in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; a speech by Class of 2012 Vice President Dustin K. Dorph of Oak Ridge, N.J., a senior majoring in civil engineering in the College of Engineering; and closing reflections by Ian A. Newell of El Paso, Texas, a senior majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.

Soprano Tatiana MacMartin of Midlothian, Va., a 2012 Virginia Tech graduate and current graduate student in curriculum and instruction, will sing the National Anthem at both the University Commencement and Graduate School Commencement ceremonies and the Alma Mater at the University Commencement ceremony. Jillian A. Drank of Arlington, Va., a graduate student in human development, will sing the National Anthem at the Graduate School Commencement ceremony.

Kristy E. Benoit of Pittsburgh, Pa., a doctoral candidate from the Department of Psychology, will provide student remarks during the Graduate Commencement ceremony. Melissa Maybury Lubin of Richmond, Va., director of the Virginia Tech Richmond and Hampton Roads centers and a doctoral candidate in human development, will provide student remarks during the National Capital Region ceremony.

2013 marks the 142nd year of Virginia Tech. More information on all commencement and convocation activities may be found online.

In the event of inclement weather, the University Commencement ceremony in Lane Stadium may be delayed. If heavy rain or dangerous conditions prevail, the university may cancel the ceremony. Once a decision has been made, details will be posted on the Virginia Tech homepage, the Virginia Tech News page, and Virginia Tech Mobile. Information will be recorded on the University Weather Line (540-231-6668), shared with area news outlets, sent using campus-wide email and VT Alerts, and posted to the VT News page on Twitter and the Virginia Tech page on Facebook.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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