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Fall photo of Ferrum College campus.
Ferrum College News

Ferrum College Celebrates the Class of 2024 and the Inauguration of 13th President Dr. Mirta M. Martin


Ferrum College celebrated its 108th commencement and the inauguration of 13th College President Dr. Mirta M. Martin on Saturday, May 4, in the Swartz Gymnasium as nearly 160 graduates representing fourteen states, Puerto Rico, and three countries received diplomas. Seven of the graduates received Academic Excellence awards for consistently maintaining a 4.0 GPA and five earned multiple degrees. 38% were first generation graduates. The commencement exercises included the investiture of Dr. Mirta M. Martin as the 13th president of Ferrum College and a keynote address by Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, The Honorable Winsome Earle-Sears.

The gym was filled with friends and family of Dr. Martin and the Class of 2024 as well as public officials and honored guests from colleges and universities throughout the region. Ferrum College Board of Trustees Chairman Scott Showalter ’73 bestowed the College Presidential Chain of Office and Mace to Dr. Martin in the investiture ceremony. “The Ferrum College Trustees view the investiture of Dr. Mirta Martin as an opportunity to welcome in a new era of growth and prosperity for Ferrum College. The ceremony reminds us of the trust and confidence that we repose in our new president. Donning the mantle of responsibility, she shall pledge to dispense her duties to the best of their abilities,” he said.

Dr. Martin expressed her commitment to the College and reverence for the legacy of academic excellence, faith, innovation and inclusivity that defines the College as well as her pride in the Class of 2024. “It is with profound gratitude, humility, and a deep sense of responsibility that I stand before you today as the newly invested 13th president of Ferrum College.  I am honored to have the extraordinary privilege to lead this institution into the next chapter of its distinguished history,” she said.

She also welcomed the class of 2024 and gave her congratulations to them. “Your journey to this occasion has been marked by unprecedented challenges; yet, you have demonstrated remarkable courage, perseverance, and determination. You have overcome obstacles, adapted to change, and emerged stronger. Your achievements are a testament to your character and grit, and I am filled with great pride and admiration. Each of you makes us Panther Proud,” Martin said.

Class President M’Kayla McBride spoke to her classmates about how special this commencement, the only traditional commencement most of them had yet to experience, was an especially exciting moment. “Being the Class of 2020 brought hardship. We journeyed from not knowing whether we were going to even be able to enjoy being on a college campus to now, we’re here in front of important family members and friends to rejoice as one,” McBride said.

She encouraged them to continue to live out the College motto ‘Not Self, But Others’. “We stand on the brink of endless possibilities, armed with the knowledge and skills to make a difference in the world. Remember that success is not measured solely by accolades or material wealth, but by the impact we have on the lives of others. Whether we pursue careers in business, science, education, or the arts, let us strive to leave the world a little better than we found it. Let us be beacons of light in a world that sometimes feels dark and uncertain,” she said.

Martin then welcomed the keynote speaker, Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Winsome Earle-Sears. Earle-Sears congratulated Martin on being the first minority president of the College and shared her joy of being part of an historic event and the celebration of the young people who are the future of the Commonwealth and the nation. She urged them to strive for greatness.

“Will it be said that the world is better off for you having lived? Yes, we should strive for greatness…but don’t miss what’s right in front of you. Is it a risk that you need to take? Is it a kind word that needs to be said? We need leaders who will fight for our liberty and lead the way in our culture. And we need leaders of faith, conscience, and courage. As President Regan reminded us, ‘[f]reedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same’. Your charge, ladies and gentleman, as part of your thing to be done, is to preserve America for the next generation. Make the darkness tremble,” Earle-Sears said.

Following her address, Martin presented Earle-Sears with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for her dedication to public service and her impact on the Commonwealth of Virginia and countless Virginians.

Provost Delia Heck and Martin then presented the graduating class and conferred the graduate and undergraduate degrees. As their ceremony concluded, Ferrum College Alumni Board President Glynn Loope ’86 welcomed the graduates to the alumni association and led them in the recitation of the alumni oath. “I sat on this stage in 1986 with one dominant thought: I don’t want to leave. Friends, faculty, memories…I just didn’t want to leave. Then, I learned something. As an alum and as a member of the Alumni Association, I didn’t have to. In fact, the whole notion of “graduation” marking an end, actually, came to symbolize a new beginning….Ferrum is Forever. Forever in mind, heart and soul. It is, a way of life. I sincerely hope, that it becomes that way for you,” he said.

The ceremony closed with the singing of the Ferrum College Alma Mater led by Mike Ferguson ’81.

Graduation events also included a nursing pinning ceremony and a traditional baccalaureate service on Friday evening in Vaughn Chapel.

Click here for photographs of the 2024 Ferrum College Commencement ceremony.