Students celebrate the completion of their undergraduate years at NC State's spring 2012 commencement ceremony.

Tassels Turned

May 12, 2012

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More than 5,200 NC State students capped their college careers Saturday.

The university held its spring commencement ceremony Saturday morning at PNC Arena. NC State football legend Philip Rivers addressed the graduates and thousands of their friends and family members.

Rivers, who now plays quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League, recalled the uncertainty he felt at his own graduation. He also challenged the graduates to fill their post-collegiate years with purpose.

“I knew as long as I stay focused on my priorities, I would be ready for life’s ups and downs,” said Rivers, who holds many school and Atlantic Coast Conference football records. “What are your priorities? What is the foundation on which you will build your future?”

Since his December 2003 graduation, Rivers has been a success on and off the football field. He is a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback. In 2010, he founded the Rivers of Hope Foundation, which works to support orphaned and abandoned children and help them find homes.

NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson conferred 5,236 degrees on Saturday – 67 associate’s, 3,500 bachelor’s, 1,398 master’s, 195 doctoral, and 76 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees. He also recognized 124 valedictorians for earning perfect 4.0 grade point averages.

With the 3,041 degrees NC State conferred last December, the university awarded a total of 8,022 degrees in the 2011-12 academic year.

Woodson also conferred honorary degrees on Robert B. Jordan III, former North Carolina lieutenant governor and NC State alumnus, and David H. Murdock, chairman of Dole Food Company Inc.

Photo Gallery

Sea of red caps and gowns fill PNC Arena. Grads cheer as their dean announces their college. Sea of red caps, gowns and happy graduate faces. PNC Arena, filled to the max with graduates, family and friends. Commencement student speaker addresses his classmates. Engineering graduate Ruth Smalls listens as Philip Rivers delivers his speech. Students enter PNC Arena for commencement. Happy graduate and former UAB president Matt Woodward. Happy grads enter PNC Arena. Student looks for family and friends in PNC Arena. College of Design students grab some shut-eye as the procession continues. Student looks for family and friends in PNC Arena. Honorary degree recipient David H. Murdock (l), NFL All-Star & Wolfpack legendary quarterback Philip Rivers, Chancellor Randy Woodson and honorary degree recipient Bob Jordan (r). ROTC student marshall holds a banner at commencement. Vet med student and her mortar board. Vet med grads take their self portrait. Vet med student and her mortar board. Graduate student searches the PNC Arena crowd for family. Students celebrate the completion of their college undergraduate years. Proud dad takes a few snaps of his new graduate. Dr. Tom Stafford delivers his final 'moments of reflection' at commencement. Dr. Stafford retires soon after 40+ years at NC State. Students sing along with National Anthem. Bedazzled mortar board in the crowd. Student celebrates his degree. Student flips through the program. Graduate takes a photo with her phone. 125th Anniversary tassel. COMMENCEMENT.2012.5264 COMMENCEMENT.2012.5156 COMMENCEMENT.2012.4951 COMMENCEMENT.2012.4966 COMMENCEMENT.2012.5121 COMMENCEMENT.2012.5057 Parents and graduates share hugs after the ceremonies. A graduate exits the arena with her family. The tassels celebrate the University's 125th anniversary. A graduate searches for family in the stands. Graduates enjoy the day. Graduates declare their excitement for the day on their mortar boards. Spring 2012 graduates take part in their ceremonies at the PNC Center. College of Education graduates make a statement on their mortar boards. Spring 2012 graduates celebrate as the Chancellor confers their degrees. Graduates participate in the singing of the NC State Alma Mater.