“We live in a society where there is a lot of talking and not much listening. It seems like everyone is doing a monologue and there is not much real dialogue going on,” Kaine said. “A key for your success will be to be as good a listener as you can be. Focus on what people are really saying, undistracted by your electronics or own impatience to jump in to say what you have to say. And even change your mind. People will really notice this.”
Kaine was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 and is a member of the Armed Services; Budget; Foreign Relations; and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees. First elected to office in 1994, Kaine served on the Richmond City Council and later was mayor of Richmond. He became lieutenant governor of Virginia in 2002 and was inaugurated as Virginia’s 70th governor in 2006. He also was the Democratic Party’s nominee for vice president in the 2016 presidential election.
Students received professional, graduate and undergraduate degrees at the ceremony. In all, VCU awarded nearly 5,000 degrees.
Kaine said he relishes the opportunity to speak at as many commencement ceremonies as he can.
“Not every day do you get the honor of being with someone on a day that is going to be one of the best days of their lives,” Kaine said. “And graduation is going to be one of the best days of your life.”
VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., told the graduates that it will be critical for them to remain open to new ideas as their lives progress. He said the ability to change one’s mind through time and experience was critical to evolving and improving as a person.
“When we ignore a new truth, when we refuse even to consider the legitimacy of something with which we might disagree, it limits our ability to experience new things,” Rao said. “And that holds back humanity, because it blocks our beliefs about what may be possible for any of us to achieve.”
The Edward A. Wayne Award, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions or provided exemplary service to VCU, was presented to Pam and Bill Royall. Sogand Karimian received the Board of Visitors Award, which recognizes the achievements of an outstanding undergraduate student who represents the distinctive attributes of a VCU student: outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and service to the university and the community at large. Karimian, a nursing major, will receive a one-year scholarship equal to in-state tuition and fees.