Video: Wisdom from the class of 2012


updated 6/8/2012 2:31:08 PM ET 2012-06-08T18:31:08

It's that time of year again, when NBC Nightly News honors college graduates across the country with our commencement round-up. It's an annual tradition, and also a labor of love. Producer Amber Payne, editor Scott Feinstein, associate producer Jessica Blank, and associate producer Chiara Sottile spent hundreds of hours gathering the moments that best captured the sentiments of the Class of 2012.

This year our team reached out to 422 schools and combed through more than 220 tapes. We thank the dozens of schools who sent us recommendations and features on their best and brightest students.  We also thank the schools that shared their time-honored rituals and traditions with us.  We had a great time learning about and looking through footage of hoop rolling, candlelight ceremonies, and wishing wells. 

On senior class day at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., the young women march through the Alumnae Arch,while they are cheered on by a gauntlet of beaming alumnae all dressed in white. It's an emotional event that symbolizes the seniors leaving the college and entering into greater service in the world beyond the gates of Spelman.

Centre College graduates in Danville, Ky., walk through an iconic campus building to present a coin engraved with the Centre seal to the person who has made the greatest impact on their senior year. 

After commencement at Eureka College in Illinois, the seniors form a circle, taking hold of an ivy vine.  Students then snip it between each student, signifying their leaving their circle of friends and professors. Graduates take their sprigs, so that whatever their travels, the knowledge they acquired at Eureka-- like those sprigs of ivy -- may take root elsewhere. 

We also met some outstanding students -- bright, optimistic, and ready to change the world in their own unique ways. Some of the most impactful material came from our sit-down interviews with students at the Institute of American Indian Arts, West Point Academy, Spelman College, the University of Virginia, and Wesleyan University.

We hope you enjoy the above interactive feature where you can hear more from the Class of 2012.

To create the musical backbone for this piece, we worked with some incredible artists.  Here's the playlist for the songs you heard tonight. Click here to learn more about who you heard.  

Commencement 2012 Soundtrack:

  • "The Lake" by Aunt Martha
  • "Collector" by Here We Go Magic
  • "Daydreaming" by Di Johnston
  • "Higher Than the Stars" by Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • "Little Jealousy" by Sonia Montez
  • "Tumbleweed" by Great American Canyon Band

Special thanks to designer and animator Michael Cole, art director Madeline Sturm and our team of loggers and wranglers of packages: Dexter Mullins, Erica Ayisi, Craig Stanley, David Walters and Janelle Richards.


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