A lot has changed in the four years since the Class of 2017 arrived at the University of Virginia. Jefferson’s Rotunda has been restored and readied to face another century, University researchers have forever changed the field of medicine with new discoveries about the brain, and legions of UVA graduates have taken on mantles of leadership.
Just as UVA is always growing as a community, students walk their own path of growth from the moment they set foot on Grounds. Often, the hesitant first-year they once saw in the mirror is unrecognizable to the confident scholar who will walk the Lawn this weekend.
To celebrate their transformative years on Grounds, UVA Today asked graduating fourth-years to share “then and now” photos from their earliest days at UVA and their final days before graduation.
Photos came in from across the University and many grads-to-be used their submissions to highlight the lasting friendships they’ve forged here.
In her submission, Curry School of Education student Aubree Surrency explained that she and her three best friends – Alysse Dowdy, Shontell White and Alexis Jones – met through a combination of dorm assignments and shared classes first year.
“After that we all started hanging out and we solidified our friendship our first year with an Easter weekend trip to Shontell’s house,” she said. “We just ended our fourth year with a trip to Myrtle Beach together. It’s safe to say we are forever friends!”
Growing friendship was the same theme for Chanel Dupree, a McIntire School of Commerce student graduating with a B.S. in accounting and finance. She and fellow friends Deanna Madagan, Abby Systma, Kaitlyn Colliton and Jennifer Cifuentes all met in the first-year dorms.
“We took one picture at the end of first year, before the Rotunda went under construction and I started laughing and fell off. We decided to recreate it this year for graduation,” Dupree said.
Other students decided to show a more personal transformation with their photos.
History major Malcolm Dunlop joined UVA’s Naval ROTC as a first-year and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps on the steps of the Rotunda on Friday morning. He’ll take four years of leadership experience at UVA with him when he heads to Quantico for further training this year.
"NROTC has been massively influential during my time at UVA," he said. "I am emerging a far more confident individual, and this confidence extends to other realms at UVa including my academic and social endeavors."
Architecture student Renee Ritchie was shaped not only by her days on Grounds, but by the additional global perspective she gained through a study-abroad program in her final year at UVA.
“From looking out over ‘Mount Kellogg’ during my first year in dorms, my view changed to looking out over the Dolomites in Bressanone, Italy during my fourth-year architecture study-abroad experience,” she said. “I gained courage, knowledge and a passion for architecture over these past four years, thanks to UVA and the Architecture School.”
Some students, like Carrie Bohmer, chose to trace their time at UVA by looking back on their favorite annual activities and events. The psychology and women, gender and sexuality double-major sent in photos of visits to UVA’s “Teeny Tiny Zoo,” during her first and fourth years. The regular event is designed to offer a fun stress-reliever during spring midterms every year.
Along with her cheerful photos, Bohmer included some reflection on just how much she’s changed as a person during her time at UVA.
“Over the past four years I have grown from a girl to a woman and learned who I am as a person,” Bohmer said. “UVA has given me the best gift possible – myself.”
Below, readers can scroll through the fourth-year submissions sent in the last days before graduation.