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WSSU to celebrate 1,100 graduates at Friday’s 2019 Commencement

LJVM Coliseum overview of floor with stage
Friday’s Commencement Ceremony will be held at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial (LJVM) Coliseum. (May 2018 file photo)

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) will celebrate 1,100 graduates at Friday’s Commencement Ceremony at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial (LJVM) Coliseum.

Commencement begins at 8:45 a.m., and doors to the coliseum open at 7 a.m. Here's what you need to know. 

Getting There
With attendance of about 12,000 expected and with ongoing construction and road closures related to the Business 40 project, graduates, families and guests are encouraged to arrive early for the ceremonies and consider carpooling.

The public also is advised to avoid the coliseum area during their morning commute, as heavy traffic is expected. The ceremony is expected to last about three hours. Tickets are not required.

Parking is free and will be available in coliseum parking lots. Overflow parking will be at BB&T Field adjacent to the coliseum, with shuttle pick up at Bridger Field House.

Security Information

A coordinated security plan is in place at the coliseum with various agencies, including the Winston-Salem Police Department, Winston-Salem State University Police Department and Rhino Entertainment. All attendees will be screened by metal detectors, and all bags will be searched. Bags should be no larger than 12 by 12 by 12 inches.

Sea of Red
For the first time this year, undergraduates at WSSU will wear red cap and gowns. The gowns are red with white accent trim and have the letters WSSU on each sleeve in red. The stoles and tassels for undergraduates also are getting a new look.

WSSU Graduates
WSSU will recognize more than 1,100 graduates who earned their degrees in summer and fall 2018 and spring 2019. Graduates for 2018-19 include:

  • Nearly 950 undergraduates
  • 150 graduates (master’s and doctoral)

Kwanza Jones, a Los Angeles-based recording artist, producer, impact investor and philanthropist, will be the guest speaker. 

Honored Alumna
During the ceremony, WSSU will honor Elizabeth Barker Johnson ‘49, who was a member of the U.S. Army’s 6888th Regiment, the only all-African American, all-female Women's Army Corp unit stationed overseas during World War II. Johnson earned her degree in August 1949 but did not get to participate in her graduation because she was working as a teacher.

Johnson, a great-grandmother and retired teacher, will receive an honorary degree in special education.

For those who are not able to attend, the ceremony will be live streamed.

For more information on commencement, visit

Media Credentials
Members of the news media who are interested in attending WSSU’s commencement ceremony should contact WSSU media relations by noon on Thursday, May 9. Due to space restrictions, a limited number of media credentials will be available. Limited parking will be available for marked media vehicles or those with media credentials in the Mountain Dew lot.
 Media passes are required for access to the floor of the coliseum. 

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment. 

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