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A sense of both magic and pride marked Old Dominion University's 95th commencement exercise Sunday, Dec. 16.

Commencement speaker Roberta Bondar, a neurologist, scientist and photographer who also was Canada's first female astronaut in space, told the 2,000 graduates that this is a season of gifts, magic and time.

"The magic of the future and the gift we give people is the work we do now," Bondar said. "There are wonderful things to embrace in the world. … It is an extraordinary time to press the envelope, to make magic happen."

She told the audience that many people see space travel as magical; the same could be said of education. "No one sees all the hard work, but we wouldn't appreciate this moment if it weren't for all that hard work."

The pride expressed for the work of the graduates was equaled only in pride for the nation. Some graduates waved American flags, and President Roseann Runte acknowledged the students lost in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon and thanked members of Old Dominion's ROTC programs for their commitment to helping the campus community recover. "We have come together, not only in moments of triumph, but of tragedy," she said.

"These are times in which we find new strengths, and we find them in each other," added Bondar, who noted this was the first graduation ceremony to be held at Old Dominion since the Sept. 11 attacks. "It is indeed magic."

Sunday's commencement was a day of beginnings and endings, not only for the graduates, but for the university as well. The ceremony was President Runte's first at Old Dominion since becoming president on July 1 and marked the last time the university will use Norfolk Scope. Next year's ceremony will be in Old Dominion's new Constant Convocation Center, which will open in October. May commencements are held on campus at Foreman Field.

This article was posted on: December 16, 2001

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