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Meet the Class of 2017

On Sunday, about 140 graduates received their diplomas from Randolph College at the 2017 Commencement ceremony. A longtime tradition at Randolph is for each graduate to choose an important person in their life to serve as a squire and “hood” them during the ceremony. Here are a few of their stories:


Tia Jones

Tia Jones

Tia Jones: B.A., Curricular Studies

Enrolled in Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program at Randolph College

“My squire is my aunt Patricia Walker, AKA, Aunt Trish. My Aunt Trish was the first person I ever knew that went to college. She attended Hampton University for Accounting. Currently, she works at Columbia University’s Teaching College in New York. Despite her living so far from me, we have maintained a very close bond. She is always connecting me with educators that attend Columbia and giving me ideas for lessons. I often ask her to read over my essays before I turn them in, and she is happy to do so. My aunt plays a huge role in my family as the person who keeps us together. She never once doubted my ability, but she stood there encouraging me and pushing me to be where I am today.

“I submitted my application to the M.A.T. program while visiting her during December break! She, of course, read it before I turned it in.”


Mitch MacDonald

Mitch MacDonald

Mitch MacDonald: B.A., Communication Studies

Hired as membership development associate for the Miami Dolphins

“My squire is Dr. Janel Jackson-Beckham in the communications department. Dr. Beckham has been one of the most influential people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. She has supported me through the struggles of my communication classes and senior paper. She and I have developed an awesome friendship that extends beyond the classroom because she has pushed me to achieve my dreams of working in the sports industry. Dr. Beckham is one of the greatest teachers I have ever had, and Randolph is extremely lucky to have her.”


Emily Ward

Emily Ward

Emily Ward: B.S., Biology

Enrolled in vet school at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine

“I am thrilled to be headed to vet school, though I will miss Randolph greatly. My mom will be my squire. I was homeschooled all the way up until college, and I feel it is very important to have her beside me on graduation day as she has played such an integral role in my education.”


Sam Sun: B.F.A., Theatre

Hired as Barter player (actor) for Barter Theatre: The State Theatre of Virginia

“The title of my position is Barter player, which is an actor who performs for their children’s theatre and also understudies main stage characters. It is a tradition of Barter Theatre that provides both professional and educational experiences for theatre artists.

Sam Sun

Sam Sun

“My theatre B.F.A. degree required me to not only take classes related to theatre, but also to acquire experience from the practical world and to collaborate with artists in other fields. I also want to mention that my mentor, [theatre professor] Stephanie Earl, had provided me with the greatest support that I could ever imagine.

“I chose my mother to be my graduation squire on Sunday because without her guidance I would never have become the person I am today. Plus, May 14 is Mother’s Day. I think this would be the best Mother’s Day present for her.”


Caitlin Jones

Caitlin Jones

Caitlin Jones: B.A., Environmental Studies; B.A., Global Studies

Enrolled in graduate school at George Washington University

“I was fortunate enough to get accepted into the six schools I applied to, including Johns Hopkins University, but I ultimately chose G.W. My plans thus far are as follows: I will be interning this summer with Booz Allen Hamilton in a paid position (yay!) and then in the fall starting at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs just a couple blocks from the White House. My degree will be an M.A. in security policy studies, specializing in defense strategy and environmental security, respectively. My squire for graduation at Randolph will be my mom, Cathy Jones. She is my biggest cheerleader.”


Dani Hill

Dani Hill

Dani Hill: B.A., Sport and Exercise Studies

Hired as medical scribe for Centra Lynchburg General Hospital

“I am graduating with a degree in sport and exercise studies and doctoral physical therapy prerequisites. I will be continuing my work as a medical scribe in Lynchburg General Hospital’s emergency department and completing remaining coursework required for physical therapy school over the next year. I will be applying to physical therapy programs next year in order to work towards obtaining my DPT.

“I chose my dad to be my squire. Originally, I planned on asking my mom to be my squire, but she passed away in the fall of 2014. She was my biggest fan, and we were both so excited that graduation was going to be on Mother’s Day in 2017. My dad assumed a huge parenting role for me after my mom passed, and he has proven to be the most supportive, loving, and patient figure in my life. I can’t think of anyone else who believes in me as much as he does.”


Matt Gibson: B.S., Biology, Physics

Matt Gibson

Matt Gibson

Enrolled in patent law degree program at Washington & Lee University

“My squire will be Dr. Cecile Tougas, instructor of Latin at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. I was one of Dr. Tougas’s TA’s, and she was my mentor at the school and has continued to mentor me since. I will be studying patent law at Washington and Lee University School of Law in the Fall.”


About Graduation Squires

It is tradition for each senior to select a graduation squire who will march with the senior and sit directly behind the graduate during Commencement. At the designated moment during the Commencement ceremony, the squire will ceremoniously place the Randolph College baccalaureate hood around the senior’s collar.

Originally the squires were sophomores; but once sophomores were no longer required to stay for Commencement, seniors began to choose family members as their squires. Although most seniors choose fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, grandparents, alumnae relatives, or siblings to act as their squire, some seniors choose a person who is not a relative but someone with whom the senior wants to share this very special occasion.

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