Danville, VA - There was no shortage of tears and applause as students became alumni during the winter 2013 commencement.
"It's been a long time coming. I've worked really hard for this, " said graduate Michelle Sisson.
Averett was recently named one of the most military-friendly schools in the country, evident by the number of veterans that walked across the stage. It has also become a popular option for non-traditional students, with many of the graduates being working adults.
"It allowed me to go one day a week, and I was able to take my studies with me. They also had online classes, so it was great, " said graduate Renee Woodson.
Governor Bob McDonnell, who also went back to school as an adult, could relate to the difficult balancing act many of those students faced.
"The Governor has some things in common with a number of you: served in the military, was an adult degree seeker, and had years without sleep, " said Dr. Tiffany Franks, President of Averett University.
In his final commencement address as Governor, McDonnell expressed the importance of civic engagement post-graduation.
"Make sure that you're engaged in the life of your state, your nation and your community, because apathy is the thing that will undermine our great country, " McDonnell said.
He also shared the need for young minds to stay and grow in the Commonwealth. Many
"I do own a business in Virginia, so I understand that completely. I was just glad that he was here. It's a very important day for me and to have someone as prominent as the Governor come and speak is just wonderful, " said Woodson.