Photo Story: Vanderbilt athletes graduate

For four years, they've been students, and they've been athletes. Usually their names and faces appear on VandyMania as Vanderbilt athletes. On Friday morning, however, they celebrated the successful completion of their days as Vanderbilt students by walking across the stage during Commencement 2007. WhitneyD shares these photos from the special day.

For student-athletes, graduation day begins early with a 7:00 a.m. breakfast sponsored by the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program in the Hendrix Room of the McGugin Center. Sean Dixon (football) and his family were among the many who enjoyed the legendary Hendrix Room fare on graduation morning.

Women's basketball coach Melanie Balcomb returned early from her vacation to celebrate the day with her three graduating seniors, Carla Thomas, Caroline Williams, and Dee Davis.

After breakfast, Susan McAleavey (soccer) and Lea Lafield (soccer) were among the graduates who donned their academic regalia and headed over towards Alumni Lawn where the ceremony is held.

Vanderbilt's single commencement ceremony includes all graduates, including both undergraduates and graduate and professional students whether they completed their degrees in August, December or May. Graduates line up in alphabetical order in six different lines fanning out from Alumni Lawn according to their school and date of graduation.

Carla Thomas (women's basketball) has been in training camp of the WNBA's Chicago Sky since April 22, but she was given permission to miss a day of camp to return to Vanderbilt to attend the ceremony.

Dee Davis (women's basketball) is also in the midst of WNBA training camp. After the ceremony, she flew to New York to re-join her Houston Comets who have a Saturday preseason game with the New York Liberty.

Dan Cage (men's basketball) was fortunate to be near the front of the line for Arts & Sciences. The A&S line began on the terrace of Rand Hall, which gave him a convenient place to sit during the long wait until the processional march began.

Derrick Byars (men's basketball)

Marlon White (football)

Caroline Williams (women's basketball) waves as the first part of the Academic Procession finally begins at 9:00 sharp. The lines of graduates enter Alumni Law from five different directions.

After the graduates were seated, the Vanderbilt faculty entered in the second processional march, followed by a procession of university dignitaries, including university officers and the Board of Trust.

His role as spokesman for student athletics and his frequent presence at sporting event leads sports fans to think of David Williams II as the de facto athletic director at Vanderbilt. But his academic regalia, including the deep purple "hood" around his neck, is a reminder that he is actually Vice Chancellor and General Counsel for the university.
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"Ingram" is much more than the name of the court in Memorial Gym. Martha Ingram is the Chairman of the Board of Trust at Vanderbilt and joined Chancellor Gordon Gee at the head of the procession of university dignitaries.

With everybody in place, the ceremony began. The Chancellor served the role of Master of Ceremonies, performed the official duties, and delivered farewell comments to the graduates. After his farewell address, the candidates for graduate and professional degrees left for separate ceremonies specific to their schools to receive their diplomas.

Then, one by one, graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Blair School of Music, the School of Engineering, and finally the Peabody College of Education, walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Dee Davis (women's basketball)

Carla Thomas (women's basketball)

Jovan Haye (football)

Luke List (men's golf)

With a degree from Peabody College and a last name beginning with "W", Caroline Williams (women's basketball) was destined to be one of the last graduates to walk across the stage and into her new life as a college graduate.

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Photos copyright 2007 by Whitney D for

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