Veteran state lawmaker Rep. H.M. “Mickey” Michaux Jr. told N.C. Central University’s largest December graduation class on Saturday to “face the world boldly.”
Approximately 639 NCCU graduates, including 465 undergraduates, received their degrees during the university’s 132nd commencement exercises.
“The political landscape today seems to try to make the dream of idealism meaningless,” said Michaux, an NCCU alumnus and Durham Democrat.
“Let no one doubt that the United States as a beacon of hope is still there, seen throughout the world, even in the darkest corners and most oppressive regions,” he said.
Michaux, 88, who did not seek re-election this year, urged the graduates to fulfill the ideals of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Push forward on equality and other challenges facing America, he said, such as “racism and poverty, environmental safety and health, protection of natural resources, and national security.”
“Your dreams are your only boundaries,” he said.
During the ceremony, Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye gave special recognition to Beijing, China native, Qingqing Xie, who is the second graduate of the Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist training program, a partnership between NCCU’s School of Education and Beijing Language and Culture University. Xie plans to return to China to work as a speech pathologist and educator.
Akinleye also recognized Doneva Chavis, who returned to NCCU in 2016 after 41 years to complete her undergraduate degree in Behavioral and Social Sciences with a hospitality and tourism concentration.
“Doneva Chavis exemplifies and embodies The Eagle Promise,” Akinleye said, adding that Chavis now plans to obtain a master’s degree to teach hospitality in higher education. “She proves it’s never too late to pursue your passion,” he said.
Tim Adekoya became the sixth graduate to earn a Ph.D. in Integrated Biosciences, a program created five years ago to train minority researchers.
The university also awarded a posthumous degree to senior DeAndre Ballard, who died in September. His mother, Ernesha Ballard, received the degree.
In addition to the bachelor’s degrees, 13 graduates of the NCCU School of Law received their juris doctor degrees. Approximately 160 master’s degrees were awarded in areas of science, arts, public administration, library science, business administration, teaching, music and school administration.
A rebroadcast of NCCU’s 132nd Commencement Exercises will be available at www.nccu.edu/media/live/.