Nearly 1,500 Eagles Take Flight at Embry-Riddle Commencement Ceremonies

A total of 1,491 students in the graduating class of spring 2022 took a celebratory moment to look back on their achievements, as they received their degrees at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on Saturday, May 7, and Monday, May 9. An additional 475 students from the Embry-Riddle Worldwide Campus will celebrate their commencement on May 14.

The Honorable Charles F. Bolden Jr.
The Honorable Charles F. Bolden Jr, former NASA administrator who delivered the keynote address at the Daytona Beach Campus commencement ceremony, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler and Embry-Riddle Trustee Janet Kavandi. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Joey Harrison)

“I hope that you take as much pride in your accomplishments as I do,” said Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler, Ph.D., at the Prescott Campus commencement ceremony, held on May 7. “You can carry that pride with you, wherever your life and career plans take you. As Eagles, you know that you can accomplish things that you never knew were possible.”

Butler reminded graduates that the knowledge they have acquired at Embry-Riddle “goes well beyond the technical skills you picked up in the classroom.”

“You have gained foundational strengths as a person, as a leader,” he told graduates at the Daytona Beach Campus ceremony on May 9. “As you move forward, be confident in your ability to succeed.”

Prescott Campus Commencement

At the Prescott Campus commencement, Ryan M. Hartman, who graduated from Embry-Riddle in 2009, gave the keynote address. Hartman is now the president and CEO of World View, a pioneering company in stratospheric exploration and space tourism, a role he called “the culmination of my passion and experience that started at Embry-Riddle."

“Being able to use aeronautics and aviation as a way to make travel and exploration more accessible — to help humanity using science and the spirit of curiosity — is more than I ever could have hoped for on graduation day,” Hartman said.

Using space travel as an analogy, Hartman told graduates that the launch is often the riskiest moment. "Getting started and launching into something new is often the hardest in life, too. This is true for starting to write a term paper, starting a new job, learning a new skill or even getting into a new relationship,” he said. “I encourage you to lean into the discomfort of a launch. It will lead to wondrous successes.”

Angel Thomas
Angel Thomas transcended incredible odds in her personal life to become president of her graduating class at the Daytona Beach Campus. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Joey Harrison)

A total of 465 students earned degrees at the Prescott Campus commencement ceremony. That number includes 21 Worldwide Campus grads, nine who will earn their master’s degrees, and four master’s degree students from Prescott. Twenty-nine ROTC cadets commissioned as officers into the U.S. Air Force, and 11 cadets commissioned into the U.S. Army.

Global Security and Intelligence Studies major Danielle Jamieson won this year's Chancellor Award, graduating with a 4.0 GPA and minors in both Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as Business Administration.

Tess Osborne and Will Kasdan, both Aeronautical Science majors and co-presidents of the Airline Pilots Association Aviation Collegiate Education Club, gave an address as class speakers, thanking alumni who regularly came to campus as pilot volunteers to share their experiences of working in the aviation industry. The two urged their fellow graduates to “strive to be that person to someone else and pay it forward.”

As Prescott Campus Chancellor Dr. Anette Karlsson congratulated the graduates, she expressed enthusiasm for their future accomplishments.

“With your talent, your drive,” Karlsson said, “you will work wonders in the world.”

Daytona Beach Ceremony

The Honorable Charles F. Bolden Jr, former NASA administrator and U.S. Marine Corps Major General, gave the keynote speech at the Daytona Beach Campus undergraduate commencement ceremony. During his career as an astronaut, Bolden flew on four space shuttle missions, logging over 680 hours in space. He piloted Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986 and Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990 – the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. He also served as commander on Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1992, and Space Shuttle Discovery in 1994. In President Butler’s introduction of Bolden, he called him “a tireless champion for our nation’s security and prosperity, as well as environmental sustainability.”

In his address, Bolden called on the graduates to rise to today’s "unprecedented" challenges.

Students hold up degrees
A total of 1,026 Daytona Beach Campus students earned degrees Monday, May 9. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Joey Harrison)

“Our planet has a very big help-wanted sign on it,” said Bolden, “and we’re counting on your generation to cure previously incurable disease, to tackle big challenges like climate change, to teach us to live as one people on this incredibly beautiful planet, to lead humanity’s journey of discovery.”

He counseled the graduates to step into whatever roles they have prepared for, adding, “by all means, don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do something or you don’t belong.”

“I believe that your generation, with your passion to succeed,” Bolden said, “will take us to a better place, a place worthy of the planet I’ve been blessed to see from space, where its serenity and lack of borders belies the truth of what sometimes happens here on the ground.”

Class president and Aeronautics graduate Angel Thomas, whose success is particularly poignant because she was abandoned as a baby and almost died in her first hours of life, told her fellow graduates, “While your past is part of you, it’s never going to be something that defines you. No matter what happens, keep pushing, work hard and stick to your values,” Thomas said. “We have the power to make life exactly what we want it to be.”

Aerospace Physiology graduate Chloe Crichton received this year’s Excellence in Academics, Leadership and Service Award. Grace Robertson, who earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering, took home the John C. Adams, Jr. Community Service Award.

A total of 1,026 students earned degrees in the Daytona Beach Campus commencement, 876 as undergraduates, 140 who received master’s degrees and 10 who received doctoral degrees. Twenty-nine ROTC cadets from Embry-Riddle commissioned into the U.S. Army at the event; 36 commissioned into the Air Force; 14 into the Navy; nine into the Marines; and one into the U.S. Space Force.