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In Final Commencement as President, Dr. William R. Harvey Charges the Hampton University Class of 2022 To Step Up and Lead as they Graduate from ‘One of the Wonders of the World’

By: Hampton University

Over 6,000 attendees cheered on the graduating class of 2022 inside the Hampton University Convocation Center on what is truly a historic day in the university’s 154 year history. A total of 884 graduates donned with caps and gowns, processed into the Hampton University Convocation Center and look forward to the next step in their lives. 

For the final time after a legendary 44 year tenure, Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey, welcomed the crowd of graduates, friends, families, and alumni to celebrate the accomplishments of the class of 2022. “I pay tribute to you for your many achievements and extend to you my very best wishes as you continue your quest for personal and professional fulfillment,” said Dr. Harvey. “I also extend to each of you my most sincere congratulations.”

Dr. Harvey spoke highly of the graduating Class of 2022, and where they will go from here. “Hampton University provides its students with an “Education for Life”—the knowledge and skills gained during their tenure at the University has enlightened and prepared them to be creators of original ideas, champions of change, and conquerors of new territories in liberal arts, education, math, science, politics, and technology.  You, the class of 2022, will be instrumental in moving our nation and our world forward,” Dr. Harvey said.

“So many wonderful things have occurred and continue to occur during the last 44 years until I have coined the phrase which states that Hampton University is ‘One of the Wonders of the World,’ said Harvey.  “Why do I say that?  During my tenure, 92 new programs, including 12 doctorates, have been introduced; 30 new structures, not including the 14 separate new buildings which make up the Hampton Harbor apartments and shopping center; the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, which is the largest in the world and is treating prostate, lung, breast, ocular or eye, pediatrics, spine, head, neck and brain cancers; a giant antenna which can detect storms, tornados and hurricanes up to 2,000 miles away; new pieces of art which now total over 10,000 objects in the oldest African American museum in the United States; a University Archives which houses more than 50,000 photographs and in access of 8 million documentary items in American education, educational philosophy, political activities, labor, business, and international issues; an unprecedented four satellites orbiting the earth as I speak; and the University’s endowment which has grown 1,279% from $29 million to over $400 million and growing.”

Two of Hampton University’s outstanding alumni were recognized for their work in their professional careers as well as their support for their alma mater. Rashida Jones, President of MSNBC, received the Outstanding Twenty-Year Alumnus Award. Jones is a 2002 Hampton University Mass Media Arts graduate and has had a very successful career in the journalism industry. Jones became the first Black executive to lead one of the major television news organizations when she assumed her current position Feb. 1, 2021. In 2019, Jones was inducted into the Scripps Howard Journalism Hall of Fame, an honor acknowledging her outstanding work in the journalism field.  

Thomas Hasty III, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Regulatory Risk Officer Towne Bank, received the Outstanding Alumnus-at-Large Award. Hasty is a 1977 Hampton University graduate and has been named the 2022 Chair of the Heart of Hampton Roads and Stroke Ball by the American Heart Association. He has also served on various boards, including the League of Hampton Roads, Cheseapke Bay Academy and the United Way of South Hampton Roads, in addition to his involvement with the HU Boosters and Hampton Nation Advisory Council. 

Marking the end of his legendary 44 year Presidential term, Dr. Harvey delivered the keynote address to the Class of 2022. He spoke beautifully to the graduates, alumni, faculty, staff and parents assembled. Based on the theme of acting, his remarks compared the higher education experience to that of a stage performance. “The commencement exercise has been described in many ways, but I like to think of it as a brief intermission between the act of formal academic study and the act of real life,” Dr. Harvey said. “When the curtain rises on the act that follows this day, I do not want you to cast yourselves into the permanent role of follower.  I want you to be a leader.  I do not want you to be forever content to be the employee; I want you to be the employer.  I do not want you to settle for merely representing the firm or corporation; I want you to own the firm or corporation.”

As he continued, Dr. Harvey expressed to the graduates that in the drama of life, the curtain eventually has to come down and their lives are paused between their four-year degree experience and the next act of their lives. “When the curtain rises on the act following this day, you will no longer be the mere stars and starlets of the production which is to follow.  Rather, you will have assumed the role of producers and directors—leaders, if you will, of the new stars and starlets of the next generation.  The notion that the future of our nation and indeed our world now depends on you, may seem to be nothing more than an old cliché.  And that may well be.  But, when the curtain rises for the act which follows, you will discover that it is also an inescapable truism.  Like it or not, you will indeed be in charge.”

In the conclusion of the address, Dr. Harvey charged Hampton’s graduating class of 2022 with several goals and doled out expert advice to ensure them future success. “My charge to you is to see the horizon not as a limit, but as an invitation. The torch has been passed to you with the expectation that you’ll hold it higher and carry it farther than those who have walked before you,” Dr. Harvey said.  Dr. Harvey also advised HU’s graduates to save something out of every paycheck, to buy property because it appreciates, fight racism and to stay away from drugs and drug dealers, and to support the university that has given them so much. “Be positive role models; be leaders in your respective fields, and be of service to others,” Dr. Harvey said. “I congratulate you Quintessence XI, Hampton University class of 2022, on what you’ve already achieved. I say to you, make the world a better place through your continued achievements. The world is waiting for you.”

Dr. Harvey also awarded two honorary degrees to John Charles Thomas, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia and Paul Trible, President of Christopher Newport University, for making outstanding scholarly or creative attainments or who are distinguished in public service.  Both recipients thanked Dr. Harvey and Mrs. Harvey for their 44 years of commitment and service to Hampton University, its students and the region in their remarks. 

As the ceremony came to a close, class Valedictorian Darchayla Monique Lewis who is graduating with a 4.725 GPA, gave the class of 2022 some words of encouragement upon reflecting on the classes experiences over the past four years at Hampton University. “If you haven’t already, I urge you to take the time and reflect on how much these relationships have transformed you mentally and emotionally,” said Lewis. “ These moments have shaped us into so much more than just young professionals. We are change makers, innovators, movement leaders, forces to be recorded with. For some of us our training will translate to our nations military or entrepreneurship, for others graduate school and the workforce. But regardless of what lays ahead remember to prioritize your peace, celebrate your wins, no matter how big or small, and learn from your loses to better prepare  for those who follow in our footsteps.”   

Awards Presented at the Ceremony: 

  • Outstanding Alumnus-at-Large Award — Mr. Thomas. Hasty III, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Regulatory Risk Officer Towne Bank 
  • Outstanding Twenty-Year Alumnus Award —  Rashida Jones, President of MSNBC
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws —  John Charles Thomas
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws —  Paul Seward Tribe, Jr. 
  • Class of 2022 Valedictorian —  Darchayla Monique Lewis GPA 4.725 
  • Class of 2022 Salutatorian —  Taliyah Joelle Dozier GPA 4.047
  • Edward L. Hamm, Sr. Distinguished Teaching Award – Dr. Jean Muhammad, Chair of Department of Computer Science

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