On the morning of December 21, 2017, 200 Pamplin students crossed the stage in Cassell Coliseum to receive their undergraduate degrees. 64 students graduated with distinction, with nine earning Summa Cum Laude.

Courtney Stull, a first generation college student who graduated Cum Laude, was thankful for a December commencement ceremony so her family could attend.


“Pamplin provides an amazing opportunity for students because their courses are challenging and packed full of real-life experience from case studies and group work. I feel so blessed to be a Hokie, and I feel prepared to take on the real world because of my experience at VT,” said Stull, a marketing major and business leadership minor.

Jacquelyn Marano echoed Stull’s sentiments. Marano graduated with two degrees: marketing and business information technology (BIT).

“Pamplin has given me a great foundation for my education and I have learned so much. I’m lucky because in my job I’m able to use both of my degrees, but also have so much opportunity to grow and learn. I am thankful for my time in Pamplin, but I am ready and excited to start working,” said Marano.

Art Keown, an Alumni Distinguished Professor and the R. B. Pamplin Professor of Finance at Virginia Tech, shared his humor and wisdom with the graduates as this year’s commencement speaker. He spoke about something most college students have not even considered yet: retirement.

“You’ve got to look out for yourself and the easiest way to do that is to start planning immediately,” Keown advised.

Keown spoke of lessons he learned from his mother and advice he has given past graduates. After a few anecdotes and chuckles from the crowd, Keown left the graduates with a few parting pieces of wisdom.

“I wish you all the best of luck–never stop learning, be sure you become financially literate and give some thought to retirement planning before it’s too late. Keep your minds open and don’t ever judge anybody by their appearance. Listen to your folks, after all they are your folks, and finally, always remember that this is home,” said Keown.