One year later, Sweet Briar celebrates 107th commencement

Leah Busque ’01
Leah Busque ’01. Photo by Jackson Evans.

The year that almost wasn’t culminated at Sweet Briar College earlier today in its 107th Commencement Ceremony. A week of rain had made way for spotty sunshine and a cool breeze as 81 undergraduates and one M.A.T. student crossed the stage to receive their well-earned diplomas.

The traditional processional, led by the Albemarle Pipes and Drums, was followed by the Rev. Deacon Katharine B. Chase ’67, who delivered the invocation.

“Let the world take note that we are Sweet Briar College, and we’re alive and well,” said Sweet Briar College President Phillip C. Stone in his welcome, before leaving the podium to Chairwoman Teresa Pike Tomlinson ’87 and co-chair of the Alumnae Alliance Debra Elkins ’93.

Reflections on a turbulent year — and heartfelt gratitude to the Sweet Briar community — by Student Government Association president Katie Craig and Class of 2016 president Megan Shuford set the stage for commencement speaker Leah Busque ’01.

Busque told the graduates that they were all founders now, and elaborated on how they could use the story of rebuilding their College to their advantage.

“As a founder now, you can have a real impact on the world,” she concluded. “Never worry if you are good enough to do something — know you are, and always act like it. Embrace that confidence that Sweet Briar has instilled in you.”

Tomlinson returned to the podium to announce the inaugural Founder’s Medal, which was presented to Amherst County Attorney Ellen Bowyer in absentia.

In his benediction at the very end of the ceremony, the Rev. Matt Gaventa emphasized that his were not “last words,” but rather a prologue for what was yet to come.

“Go out into the world and write something,” he said. “You are the next storytellers. … You are the authors of hope itself.”

Please see the video below to watch Sweet Briar’s 107th Commencement Ceremony.