University of Mary Washington Celebrates the Class of 2024

From COVID-19 to commencement in four years.

The seniors who graduated this past weekend from the University of Mary Washington started their college careers in the fall of 2020, when the world was still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of their high school graduation ceremonies were cancelled and much of their college experience occurred while they were masked and social-distanced.

All of this made Saturday’s ceremonies especially meaningful for UMW’s Class of 2024 and the faculty and staff who supported them along the way.

“Let us make up for what was lost four years ago and make this an especially joyous and celebratory occasion you can remember for a lifetime,” university president Troy Paino told the graduates. “Take pride in what you have accomplished and use your Mary Washington foundation to help you lead a life of meaningful purpose.”

UMW awarded 443 bachelor of science degrees, 322 bachelor of arts degrees, 30 bachelor of liberal studies degrees, 39 bachelor of science in nursing degrees, and 46 bachelor of science in education degrees on Saturday, May 11.

It also awarded four master of geospatial analysis degrees, 50 master of business administration degrees, 27 master of education degrees and 12 master of science in elementary education degrees.

Mark McClure, a 1996 graduate of UMW and the current vice president of technical operations for Major League Soccer, was the keynote speaker.

“When it is your time to speak up and help solve the big problems, I know each of you will be ready,” he told the Class of 2024. “Mary Washington has taught you to find creative, effective solutions.”

Five graduates—Anna Blake, Anna Czernia, Hannah Lee, Harmony Peura, and Abigail Swanson—earned the Colgate W. Darden Jr. Award for completing their undergraduate degrees with 4.0 grade-point averages.

This is the largest group of graduates to earn this achievement in recent history, according to the university.

The Class of 2024 also presented their own award—the Mary W. Pischmidt Award, which is given to the faculty member who had the greatest impact on them.

The students selected Marcus Leppanen, an assistant professor of psychological science. He was honored as a professor who creates space for students to express their opinions, makes class both educational and fun, and supports students in college and in life.

Managing Editor and Correspondent