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Final Exercises creates for an emotional return to the Lawn

Published: May. 21, 2022 at 8:42 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia is finally back to its traditional Final Exercises ceremonies. Last year students from 2020 and 2021 took the hike from the Lawn to Scott Stadium.

For the first time since 2019, graduates got to walk the Lawn and then sit on their chairs for Final Exercises.

“The fact that it’s coming through like this is a great blessing,” UVA graduate Max Patten said.

For the students, excited is an understatement even in the high ninety degree heat. Though humidity was not the only thing in the air-- emotion was too.

“This is the first time I mean I’ve seen so many people on the Lawn. It just is really special coming out of the pandemic,” UVA graduate Emma Keller said.

Keller was also her class Vice President and she lived on the lawn her fourth year, too. For her, walking the lawn is a bit of a full circle moment.

“I feel so celebrated and it means the world to me. I have family here from out of state, which would not have been able to happen the last two years. So it’s just an awesome time,” Keller said.

Her mom, Deedee Keller has been a part of her journey since she first stepped on Grounds.

“I still remember bringing her to new admitted students day and as we walked down the Lawn, she peeked her head in the rooms and she kind of said to me, ‘mommy, do you think one day I could live on the lawn?’ And I said, ‘absolutely baby,’ and she has just soared,” Deedee Keller said.

Final Exercises is about celebrating those individual experiences that collectively make up the community at the university.

Lauren Kim is now a graduate and is now leading the next generation.

“Walking down the lawn with all my organizations represented and all my involvements here, it feels fitting,” Kim said. “I’m really proud to just like walk in the lawn and be like, these are all my accomplishments, these are all my friends, these are all the communities that I’ve touched, and really just to be like, this is the end of it.”

Final exercises will resume Sunday where more graduates will get their chance to walk the lawn.

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