University of Vermont graduates largest class ever

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The University of Vermont graduated its largest class ever on Sunday.

The 218th Commencement Ceremony included 3,725 graduates receiving their degrees. Students heard a message of hope and perseverance from university and state leaders.

"Be purposeful. Be open to change. Grab those opportunities as they come,” said President Thomas Sullivan. “Grit and perseverance are critical as you step up toward the challenges of life. How the characteristics of a true leader are important as you begin this journey.”

Governor Phil Scott gave a similar address encouraging students to be tenacious and productive.

"Always be the person who wants it the most, gets to work first, goes that extra mile because people notice that. I notice that,” he said.

Graduates also heard from Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, which is one of the world's most influential social justice philanthropies. In his commencement address, Walker told the graduates to break barriers, fight injustice, and help others.

“I implore you not to build walls but to build bridges and to build relationships,” he said. “When we bind ourselves to others, when we recognize that our fates are bound together, we can put those small things aside. We can shrink the gaps of inequality and grow Justice in its place.” He ended his address by asking students a series of questions for them to ponder on their way out the door.

"What bridges will you build? What new relationships will you initiate? What justice will you serve? And what will you make possible for someone else?” Walker asked.

After the ceremony, WCAX News spoke with students who already have post-graduate plans lined up.

Political Science graduate Kelly Foley said she officially graduated last semester but returned to campus to participate in the main ceremony. She told WCAX that she has been working at a law firm in New York City since then and has plans to go to law school in the future.

Henry Mitchell, a math and physics graduate, said he is planning to attend a post-baccalaureate program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland to study medicine. He also has a long-term goal of working as a flight surgeon for NASA.