Virginia Tech’s alumni base grew by several thousand today as the university celebrated its summer and fall student graduates.

Approximately 1,293 undergraduates joined the Hokie alumni family during a mid-morning University Commencement Ceremony in Cassell Coliseum. In the afternoon, 1,153 students earning graduate degrees were recognized during the Graduate School Commencement.

Art Keown, an Alumni Distinguished Professor and the R.B. Pamplin Professor of Finance at Virginia Tech, addressed the undergraduates and gave two bits of advice - start saving for retirement now and never judge others by their appearance.

Keown suggested that new graduates open a Roth IRA, because earnings and withdrawals are tax free. Once they find jobs, they also should invest in their company’s 401(k) plan.

“The bottom line is you’ve got to look out for yourself,” he said. “Try to become financially literate.”

During commencement, Chris Saunders, president of the class of 2018, encouraged graduates to remember the unique Hokie community.

“Virginia Tech has changed how we view the world,” he said. “Take the lessons you learned about being part of something bigger and let it shine a light on what you do.”

Keyi Xu, a Business Information Technology major, relished the opportunity on Thursday to complete her undergraduate education after three and a half years of hard work.

“It’s a big day for me,” said Xu, whose parents traveled from her native China to Blacksburg for commencement.

Written by Jenny Kincaid Boone
Photos by Ray Meese
Highlights video by Olivia Coleman