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Prescott’s Embry-Riddle Celebrates 314 Fall Graduates at In-Person Commencement Ceremony

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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott Campus honored 314 graduates on Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

Commencement, Photographer, Connor McShane 2021

Featuring 179 students from the Prescott Campus and 52 from the Worldwide Campus, the graduating class included 12 students receiving military commissions from Air Force ROTC. In addition, 83 students impacted by pandemic-related scheduling changes returned to walk in the event.

Watch a recording of the ceremony online.

“We were so excited to once again celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates with a live, in-person commencement ceremony,” said Prescott Campus Chancellor Dr. Anette Karlsson. “Their dedication, strength and perseverance in pushing forward with their studies through a global pandemic is a testament to the quality and character of our Embry-Riddle students — and it makes this group of graduates even more impressive.”

The keynote speaker was Dr. Janet Kavandi, a former NASA astronaut and current president of Sierra Space in Louisville, Colorado. There, she is responsible for the company’s space programs, including the Dream Chaser spaceplane, which is under contract to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Dream Chaser is a winged vehicle and the only resupply vehicle capable of landing on a commercial runway. Student Government Association (SGA) President Melea Tucker also addressed the class during the event.

“I was born in the year that Sputnik first flew to space,” Kavandi said. “That put the whole space race into motion and, eventually, it resulted in my personal ambition of flying in space. My wish now in the final years of my career is to enable you to be that generation that lives and works in space as one of your normal job options. Instead of commuting to Phoenix, you could commute to a space station 200 miles up.”

Kavandi also recently won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace, a leadership and education advocacy group, and became an officer on the Commercial Spaceflight Federation board, an organization with more than 90 member companies that collaborate to create high-tech jobs and a sustainable space economy.

“You all have something within you that drives you, that makes you proud of who you are and what you want to become, and how you want to contribute to the world and make it a better place,” Kavandi added. “Use that energy to set your goals and then work really, really hard toward achieving them.”

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