Commencement Takes Special Form for Three Averett Grads

Posted on May 13th, 2024 by Bill Dyer

The parking lot had emptied out, but the stage was still set at Averett University’s Grant Center. There was no need to strike the setup just yet. Three more graduates were invited to make their own memories.

Saturday, May 4 hosted not only the main commencement exercises for Averett’s graduating class of more than 200, but a later, more intimate ceremony for three young women who had to miss the morning event due to an Old Dominion Athletic Conference softball tournament.

At 4 p.m. sharp, Taylor Sullivan ’24, Olivia Jones ’24 and Anna Coleman ’22, ’24 made the procession down the center aisle to “Pomp and Circumstance” hummed by their family, friends, teammates and coach, and a recorded version of “Scotland the Brave” on the bagpipes. Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks and Athletic Director Meg Stevens made brief remarks before Franks conferred two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree onto the three individuals. Presidential Spouse Joe Franks presented their alumni pins and with that, the softball trio had made it official – they had joined the ranks of more than 27,000 Averett alumni.

“Commencement is such a special time for all graduates, but especially for the two undergraduates who had missed their high school graduations due to the pandemic,” Stevens said. “We could not let them completely miss another one, so this was something we just knew we had to do. We needed to make this day special for these young ladies.”

This ceremony speaks to what makes Averett such a special and unique environment and community. This event was all about allowing these three students the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate a truly meaningful accomplishment.

“We say you can do everything at Averett, and this is just another testament to that,” Franks said. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it felt so good to be able to help these remarkable young women make life-long memories with their families from whom they came, along with the family they built here at Averett.”

The graduates recognize the dedication and commitment that the Averett Family has to all students.

“This graduation ceremony is really special. It was a hard decision to make, but, ultimately at the end of the day, I wanted to be with my team at the tournament,” Jones said. “But I still wanted to graduate. It’s really special that they did this for us.

“Being at Averett the last four years has meant a lot. The people here are so special and that’s what makes this graduation very special.”

Coleman received her undergraduate degree two years ago and has been a member of the coaching staff the past two seasons. This event has taken on an even greater meaning and significance to her.

“I just want to thank Dr. Franks and Meg and everyone who was involved in doing this for us, because I know this doesn’t happen everywhere,” Coleman said “This is truly the Averett family that we always preach.”