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The University of Montevallo celebrated 323 bachelor’s degree candidates and 102 master’s degree candidates this spring in the largest Commencement ceremony in several years on a beautiful morning May 6 on Flowerhill lawn.
“Today we celebrate perseverance and accomplishment,” said UM President John W. Stewart III.
The ceremony included speeches by outgoing Student Government Association President Cody Hodge and Senior Class President Desirae Billingsley. Hodge encouraged his fellow graduates to remember “if our capacity for learning is limitless, then it stands to reason that our capacity for loving is equally limitless.” Billingsley asked students to remember “our lives are before us as we go our separate ways, but our memories on the bricks and bonds we have formed will endure forever.”
“Those two may have been the best speeches I’ve heard students give,” Stewart said. “Your institution is very, very proud of you both.”
Keynote speakers Alan and Lindsey ‘06 Song shared their appreciation for the academic rigor provided by UM. The entrepreneurs and philanthropists recently provided a substantial gift to the University, which will provide scholarships to students with financial need, as well as rename its newly opened fine arts building the Alan and Lindsey Song Center for the Arts.
“My years at Montevallo provided me with the confidence and resilience to conquer anything,” said Lindsey Song, who received a bachelor of arts degree from UM and pursues her craft as an artist painting and doing pottery in her studio. “I hope the same for this Class of 2023. Congratulations, and Go Falcons!”
Alan, who arrived in the United States at a young age as a refugee from Vietnam, attended Duke University, and later became co-founder and chief technology officer for Precision Microbiology and Double Helix Specialists. He was former vice president of Assurance Scientific Laboratories and Technical Supervisor for Alabama Pain Physicians. During his tenure, Alan helped develop and implement testing for UTI, respiratory and other diseases in laboratories around the country. In the fall of 2019, Song was instrumental in the creation of one of the first COVID-19 PCR tests available in the world. For two years in the midst of the global pandemic, Alan and Lindsey traveled the United States, bringing their much-needed PCR test to labs all over the country. In 2022, Alan sold his business and officially retired.
“From an early age, my parents instilled the importance of hard work and education,” said Alan Song. “Just as important, they taught us kindness, generosity and service to our fellow human. That personal accomplishment is truly achieved in the care of others and the giving to others. For each of us here today, none of our goals could have been realized without the help, love and support of other people, so thank you family members and loved ones.”
Alan encouraged UM graduates to use their power of choice wisely. “Choose to be a force for good in the world, choose to be a leader who inspires others to greatness and choose to be the change that you want to see in the world,” said Alan Song.
Members of the Falcon Flight program were also recognized at Commencement for earning a diploma marking their completion of the program intended to assist with developing life skills for students with special needs.