New traditions honor a bold Class of 2023

Posted on May 05, 2023

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A record attendance of 13,274 witnessed a wave of energy skipping through the crowd at UNC Greensboro’s commencement ceremony on May 5, 2023 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Uproars of cheers and applause moved like electricity as families anxiously waited to hear their student’s name and watch them cross the stage.

UNCG changed the format of the commencement ceremony this year in response to student requests to forgo a keynote address and allow more time for each of the 2,082 graduate’s names to be called. The intention was to honor the deserving graduates and focus the celebration on students and their families. 

A Unique Class Deserving of New Traditions

This new ceremony format, and the requests which prompted it, should come as no surprise. This is the last class to begin their studies before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Most of the Class of 2023 arrived on campus in the fall of 2019 and persevered through the shift to remote learning in the spring of their first year.

Chancellor Gilliam addresses the graduates.

The Class of 2023 balanced a non-traditional college experience with the stress of protecting their families, and persisted to complete their studies under relatively normal conditions this year. It was no easy feat and families and friends turned out in record numbers to celebrate with them.

In his address, Chancellor Gilliam reminded the graduates of the extraordinary skills they developed during their unique college experience. “The dramatic, almost existential changes in our world have built you to become our future leaders. You will be the ones to figure out how we adapt and reinvent and innovate.” 

Faculty and family members were united in pride for this special group of resilient Spartans, as Chancellor Gilliam emboldened the class to “go forth with our pride in you and full confidence that you will be the light the world needs now.”

All in the Family

Female student speaks at commencement podium.
Natalie Adams, student speaker

Themes of family and community were not only evident in the cheers throughout the room, but also in the speeches given at commencement. Student speaker, Natalie Adams, commented on the “belonging” she has witnessed among her classmates. 

“Whether you are a first generation UNCG graduate, or a graduate who comes from a long line of Spartan alumni, you’ve belonged here,” Adams said. “We have all given and received the gift of getting to be a part of this community that has celebrated our diversity, while instilling in us this shared sense of belonging. And today we have proven ourselves to be the undisputed champions of our own stories.”

Among these “champions” was first generation student, Diana Moreno. Since first stepping on campus as a camper in the inaugural CHANCE program in 2017, Moreno found tenacious support from faculty that allowed her to chase her dreams of becoming a doctor. A biology major, with minors in chemistry and Spanish, Moreno graduates at the top of her class while balancing studies with shifts as a nurse tech at Moses Cone hospital.

Chancellor Gilliam gives honorary degree to David Sprinkle.
David Sprinkle, honorary degree recipient

Another graduate was Spartan legacy Beck Foster, whose family was excited to hear the name of the fourth Foster child to cross the stage as a UNCG School of Nursing graduate. Beck follows in the footsteps of not only his mother – a nurse – and his father – an anesthesiologist – but also his sister and twin brothers; all three earned their bachelor of science in nursing degrees from the School of Nursing.

UNCG’s commitment to community was also evident in the honorary degree awarded to David Sprinkle, Greensboro businessman and 30-year supporter of UNCG’s Light the Way campaign, which has raised nearly $160 million to go towards future students’ academic opportunities. 

“David and his wife, Pam, have been longtime leaders and advocates, lending their time, expertise, and passion to causes that have not only benefited students at UNCG, but also the greater Greensboro community,” said Chancellor Gilliam. 

Masters and Doctoral Achievements 

Before the undergraduates celebrated their graduation, the masters and doctoral students gathered for commencement in the Greensboro Coliseum on May 4. UNCG awarded 676 master’s degrees and 117 doctoral hoods this year. 

Dr. Carolyn Brown, UNCG alumna and award-winning writer, delivered the keynote address. She praised the support and inspiration she found on UNCG’s campus, but her final words to  the graduates were particularly impactful.

“Be daring, Class of 2023!” she exclaimed. “Go forth and be bold, and know you have the skills, the support, and the relationships for whatever challenges lie ahead.”

Story by Becky Deakins, University Communications
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications
Video by Grant Evan Gilliard, David Lee Row, Jaysen Buterin, University Communications
Video edited by Grant Evan Gilliard
Video written by Janet Imrick, University Communications

Decorated Class of 2022 graduation caps

Celebrate the Class of 2023!


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