News Release

Moving Forward Grounded in Faith; Southern Virginia University’s 2024 Commencement

2024 Commencement Ceremonies

On May 3, over 1200 family, friends, faculty, and professional staff of Southern Virginia University gathered on the front lawn of Main Hall for the university’s annual Commencement to celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2024.

“I don’t have to tell you that this is a major milestone and achievement in your lives,” said featured speaker Elder Vaiangina Sikahema. “You have learned important gospel principles here at Southern Virginia University that will bless and guide you in your career. In a future day you will reflect on your time here on this campus as one of the most powerful, foundational experiences of your life.”

Sikahema, a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged the graduates to keep the gospel as a focus in their lives as they enter the world and to rely on the Lord for strength as they grow in their divine potential spiritually, physically, and academically.

“I promise you that the principles and the doctrine you learned in class and Institute here will be as important, if not more important, than your profession,” said Sikahema. “For unto whomsoever much is given, shall much be required. So much is and will be required of you. May you be equal to your responsibilities. We have every confidence in you. We love you. We admire you, and we are so proud of you.”

Sharing her journey as a high school student unsure if she would succeed in college, Valedictorian Joanna Porter thanked her professors for pushing her to tackle challenges head-on and learn and grow in her capabilities.

“We have gathered here, surrounded by family and friends and mentors, to celebrate the hard work that we have finished in these last few years,” said Porter. “We have excelled everything that the last few years has thrown at us, and we are better off because of it. We can overcome hard things as we explore this next stage of our lives. Congratulations, and I look forward to seeing all that we can achieve.”

At her first official Commencement as president of Southern Virginia University, Bonnie H. Cordon encouraged the graduates to find ways to serve others in their professions and trust the Lord in their decisions to create a lasting impact in the world.

Class of 2024
The Class of 2024

“When we turn our lives over to God, we will discover that He can make a lot more out of our lives than we can,” said Cordon. “He will lift our spirits, multiply our blessings, increase our opportunities, and comfort our souls. 

“My dear friends, turn your life over to God and I promise He will lead you in places and spaces you can never imagine,” she continued. “The best chapters of your life are yet to be written. So Class of 2024, we admire, we stand in awe, and we cheer on your accomplishments. The best is yet to come.”

At the end of President Cordon’s remarks and by her invitation, the graduates stood and cheered their parents as a show of gratitude and appreciation.

After the conferral of degrees, a combined university choir, with choral graduates and alumni, gathered on the steps of Main Hall to sing the American folk song, “Oh Shenandoah,” a longstanding tradition at Southern Virginia University. At the conclusion of the event, faculty members lined up and cheered on the graduates as they recessed to refreshments. 

Special guests in attendance included Chairman of the Board of Trustees Hugh Redd, university co-founders Glade Knight and Kathleen Knight, Derek Cordon, and Buena Vista Major Tyson Cooper.