Commencement 2021

Countdown to Commencement 2021

Commencement and the end of the semester are fast approaching. Keep track of all the important end-of-year coverage here. 

As the 2020–21 academic year comes to a close, we are in awe of the resiliency and strength of our student body. Despite restrictions, limitations, and other campus changes, students have worked hard and made the most of a difficult year.  

Commencement was held on May 8 at 11 a.m. in the MacRae Meadows at Grandfather Mountain. Graduates from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 were recognized. 

Read the recap

Commencement Speaker

Andrea Ruiz-Hays, the founder of Eco Strategies Group, will be the commencement speaker. Ruiz-Hays was originally intended to speak at last year’s commencement ceremony.

Ruiz-Hays is passionate about environmental stewardship and creating solutions. From her executive leadership role at the Walt Disney World Resort to her sustainability consulting firm Eco Strategies Group, Ruiz-Hays has demonstrated a commitment to helping corporations limit their waste and reduce their carbon footprint. In 2020, Ruiz-Hays also got involved with the Million Masks Challenge, starting a Central Florida chapter that sewed and donated over 100,000 masks.

Learn more about Ruiz-Hays

Celebrating Graduates

Graduating is always an accomplishment, and graduating during a pandemic even more so. In February, the Office of Alumni Relations and Career and Life Planning collaborated to hold an event marking the final 100 days until graduation. Seniors were given the opportunity to reflect on their years at Lees-McRae, learn about resources available to help them plan their futures, and find out how to stay connected to the college after graduating. It was the first event of its kind at Lees-McRae, but hopefully the start of a new tradition.

Senior class starts countdown to graduation

Career and Life Planning also invited seniors to an event in April to recognize their “next stop” after graduation.

Many phenomenal students graduated from our main campus and online programs in 2020 and 2021. We have highlighted a few of their stories.

Corvin, the co-winner of the 2021 Juried Art Show, plans to use art to help others the way it helped her by pursuing a master's degree in art therapy. 

Martin-Cobb, a graduate of the Nursing program, started an outdoor-themed coffee company with the advice and support of Sparks, a Psychology and Business grad. 

Beauchamp is the first student to graduate from Lees-McRae with a master's degree through the Masters of Teaching in Secondary Education. 

Gardella came to Lees-McRae after her original college closed and found a home within the Wildlife Biology program. 

Jensen, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in English, was a finalist for the 2021 NC State Poetry Contest.

Demetrius Young

Young transferred to the online Criminal Justice program after earning his associate degree from Gaston Community College. 

Rail Report premiere at Bobcat Blast

In February, professional snowboarder Luke Winkelmann came to campus to ride the rails for a video produced by Red Bull. Winkelmann, a Blowing Rock native, and fellow snowboarders Judd Henkes and Alex Caccamo spent three days at Lees-McRae building jumps alongside members of the ski and snowboard team. The world premiere of "Back to School Street Snowboarding | Rail Report" took place at Bobcat Blast, a celebration of the end of the academic year. 

Back to School Street Snowboarding | Rail Report

Induction Ceremonies and Awards

Each spring, organizations across campus recognize the students, faculty, and staff who have demonstrated excellence in academics, leadership, or service. Students also have the opportunity to join organizations like the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society and Alpha Phi Sigma, the Criminal Justice Honor Society.

Alpha Phi Sigma induction ceremony

The 62nd Annual Honors and Awards ceremony

By Emily WebbApril 16, 2021
Campus LifeAcademics