Orlando, FL – On Sunday, May 8, more than 2,300 Valencia College students will receive their associate and bachelor’s degrees when Valencia College holds its 53rd spring commencement ceremonies at the University of Central Florida’s Addition Financial Arena.
Valencia will hold two ceremonies on Sunday, May 8. The morning ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., with the afternoon ceremony kicking off at 2 p.m.
This year’s commencement address will be given by Leah Basaria, who was named the Mary Smedley Collier Distinguished Graduate for 2022 by the Valencia Foundation.
Basaria was a good student in high school, but her college plans got derailed after she began hanging out with the wrong crowd. In the years after high school, she worked as a bartender, but a series of family mental health crises prompted her to enroll for classes and earn a degree in psychology. Today, Basaria is an honors student at Valencia, a peer-counselor and teaching assistant at the college and a volunteer grief facilitator at New Hope for Kids, a Maitland-based nonprofit that helps children who are grieving the loss of a family member.
“Initially my goal was to become a mental health counselor. Now that has evolved,” says Basaria. Now she’s learning how to write grant proposals, so she can help change the mental health care available in Central Florida. “I didn’t realize that I loved research, but I do. Grant proposals are just research proposals with math.”
Although 2,300 students are participating in commencement ceremonies, only 1,400 are graduates from the class of 2022. Because students from the classes of 2020 and 2021 did not have the chance to participate in an in-person commencement, they have been invited to attend this year’s ceremonies. About 700 graduates from the class of 2021 will walk across the stage on May 8, while approximately 200 from the class of 2020 will be present.
This graduation marks a significant milestone for Valencia College. During the 53rd commencement ceremony, the college will recognize its 200,000th alumnus. Valencia College alumni live in 50 states and 14 countries and territories.
The ceremony will be streamed live on the internet and can be viewed on the Valencia College graduation website at https://valenciacollege.edu/students/graduation/. A recorded version will also be available online a week after the ceremony.
Parking will be available for graduates and guests in UCF parking garages D and H.