WSSU Commencement 2014
The torrential rains the day before were gone, and the ground at Bowman Gray Stadium dried, and a nice breeze cooled the air for WSSU's 2014 Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 16, 2014.
More than a 1,100 students earned degrees and heard an outstanding message from Steve Pemberton, the chief diversity officer and divisional vice president for Walgreens, who delivered the Commencement address. Recognized as a leader on matters of diversity and inclusion, Pemberton was a ward of the state for much of his childhood. His memoir, "A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place called Home," chronicles his difficult path through foster care and his determined search for his family.
Pemberton told the graduates that dreams are important, but so is hard work. He urged not to surround themselves with people who are just like they are. "One of the reasons whales end up on the beach is that they are following that fool up front who swears they know which way to go," he said, garnering a huge laugh from the crowd. In addition to making the Commencement address, Pemberton was awarded an honorary degree.
The university awarded Leslie Shepard, an associate professor of nursing, the 2014 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. One student, Iesha Monae Roberts, who died in January, was awarded a posthumous degree.
The biggest surprise of the event, however, was the conferring of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on retiring WSSU Chancellor Donald J. Reaves, who had no clue the honor was coming.
"Receiving the degree was certainly an honor and I deeply appreciate the recognition," Reaves said. "It was all the more impactful since this would be my last commencement as chancellor and also because it was truly a surprise. The university has made tremendous progress in the past few years and, like most successes, it was possible only through the hard work and dedication of our trustees, faculty and staff. We all can take a great deal of pride in what has been accomplished."
To see some great photography from this year's commencement ceremony visit our Commencement page at Flickr.