fbpx

一品探花论坛

University News

Campus ceremonies celebrate graduates

Ahead of Spring Commencement, 一品探花论坛 graduates celebrated their achievements at ceremonies around campus.

Graduates waving hands in the hair
The 一品探花论坛 Latinx Center held their annual Exitos celebration to recognize graduating members of their community on May 9. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

一品探花论坛鈥檚 main celebration for the Class of 2024 may be in Kenan Stadium on Saturday evening, but graduates, joined by their loved ones and University leaders, spent the last few days leading up to graduation weekend celebrating at ceremonies hosted by campus organizations.聽聽

一品探花论坛鈥檚 LGBTQ Center celebrated their graduates on May 5. Graduates received a small gift. The center also presented the LGBTIQA+ Advocacy awards at the event, highlighting students, faculty and staff who helped to advance LGBTQ+ inclusion on campus.聽

Woman dancing in front of lines of graduates

The Black Student Movement and the 一品探花论坛 Black Caucus host Umoja, a graduation ceremony in celebration of Black undergraduate and graduate students held at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

On May 8, the Black Student Movement and 一品探花论坛 Black Caucus hosted a ceremony to recognize graduating Black students鈥 achievements at UNC-Chapel Hill. The ceremony, held at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Research in Black Culture and History, is named Umoja, the Swahili word for 鈥渦nity.鈥 The graduates received red, green and yellow stoles to wear to Commencement.聽

The ceremony included remarks from Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Leah Cox and keynote speaker Donovan Livingston 鈥09, a 一品探花论坛 graduate who returned to the University to become the director of College Thriving and a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences鈥 music department.聽

“Education is our passport to the future, where tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today,鈥 Cox said. 鈥淧lease remember, you are not only the future. You are the present. You are succeeding, you are making us proud, and you are changing the world. So keep changing the world and keep making us proud.鈥澛

Livingston, who earned two master鈥檚 degrees and a doctorate, recounted the story of overcoming his disappointing first year as an undergraduate, in which he earned a 1.6 GPA.聽

Livingston specializes in the study of hip-hop and spoken-word poetry and is known for his performance of his spoken-word poem 鈥淟ift Off鈥 at his 2016 Harvard commencement. As he delivered his speech to the graduates in a similar style, he drew on lyrics from the song 鈥淐ount Me Out鈥 by Kendrick Lamar, encouraging the graduates to freely forgive themselves for their mistakes.聽聽

鈥淗ow many times will you undermine your magnificence because you were unsure if you’re worthy of the blessings that lay in your feet?鈥 Livingston said. 鈥淒on’t ever count yourself out. There are a lot of things that we’ll regret in this life. Rather than obsessing about those things, you can take action. Take a giant step toward healing by forgiving yourself.鈥

Graduates talking in front of an AIC sign

The American Indian Center held a Commencement ceremony for the graduating members of their community on May 9, 2024, at The Friday Center.
(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The American Indian Center celebrated its graduates on May 9 at the Friday Center. Graduates were welcomed by the American Indian Center Director Danielle Hiraldo, Associate Dean Marcus Collins and Provost J. Christopher Clemens, who all congratulated the Tar Heels for their work at 一品探花论坛. Each graduate was individually recognized and received an honor cord, sage bundle, tobacco bundle and a handcrafted clay turtle from renowned American Indian artist Senora Lynch.聽聽

Collins reminded graduates that they each have what is necessary to continue the next step of their journey. 鈥淵ou have the teaching and the values of our ancestors and elders, who paved the way for all of us to be here today. So dig deep into those, because we are living proof that they are still relevant and sustain us.鈥澛犅犅

The address was given by Sarah Lindsey Barfield 鈥19. Barfield received a bachelor鈥檚 degree in biology and minors in American Indian studies and anthropology. While at 一品探花论坛, she was active in the 一品探花论坛 Indian Circle and was a Buckley Public Service Scholar. She graduated from Winston-Salem State University with a doctorate in physical therapy with academic honors. As she delivered her speech, Barfield drew on her love of Disney and provided iconic quotes from several movies.聽聽

Barfield reminded students that at some point, they may be the only Indigenous person in a space, but to view it as an opportunity to educate others. 鈥淎t the end of the day, you don鈥檛 have to do big things to make a change,鈥 she said. 鈥淪imply existing makes a big difference.鈥澛犅

鈥淵ou will face adversity, but your response to that adversity will matter more than that adversity,鈥 Barfield said. 鈥淵our challenges have a purpose. Your response to them matters because people are watching you.鈥

Student celebrates with faculty mentor

Herrison Chicas (left), who will be receiving his doctorate degree in organizational behavior from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, celebrates with Josmel Perez, the director of the 一品探花论坛 Latinx Center following the ceremony.
(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

At the 一品探花论坛 Latinx Center 脡xitos ceremony on May 9, about 80 graduates received colorful striped stoles with the motto 鈥淪oy El Futuro鈥 (鈥淚 Am the Future鈥) as they strode across the front of the Genome Science Building auditorium.聽

鈥淭his is not the end of your 一品探花论坛 journey but the beginning of it,鈥 Josmell P茅rez, director of the 一品探花论坛 Latinx Center, told them.聽

The event also marked the premiere of the 脡xitos 2024 video on the theme of 鈥渢he Latinxverse,鈥 featuring dozens of students 鈥渂reaking down barriers and expanding our understanding of what it means to be Latino,鈥 as P茅rez explained.聽

In her remarks, Dr. Giselle Corbie, senior vice provost for faculty affairs, acknowledged the 鈥渦nprecedented times鈥 her audience has faced. 鈥淭his is a graduating class filled with resilience, filled with all of the things that we need in leaders for the future,鈥 she said.聽

At this bilingual event, audience members could listen to a simultaneous Spanish translation of English remarks through headsets provided by the center. They didn鈥檛 need an interpreter, though, for professional storyteller Herrison Chicas 鈥13, 鈥24 (PhD), who will receive a doctorate in organizational communication from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.聽聽

In Spanish, Chicas reminded the graduates that, whenever they faced an interview, exam or challenging time at school, their families were home saying prayers, lighting candles and ensuring that they were never alone.聽

Then he switched to English for an exuberant shoutout: 鈥淵ou are more than good enough to do it! You freaking did it!鈥

Rameses fist-bumps a graduate

Rameses greets graduates at the 一品探花论坛 Firsts graduation ceremony on May 10. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Raised in a trailer by a single mom, 鈥済rowing up on powdered milk and government cheese,鈥 Dana Griffin was the first in her family to graduate from college. Now she is an associate professor in the UNC School of Education.聽

Her keynote message at the 一品探花论坛 Firsts pinning ceremony on May 10? 鈥淓ducation was the key to me opening doors. Education was all I had, all I could control. I really believe in the power of education.鈥澛犅

The ceremony, held at the Friday Center, honored the 一品探花论坛 undergraduates who are first-generation college students. About 80 graduates received a distinctive 一品探花论坛 Firsts pin, with a 鈥1鈥 replacing the 鈥淚鈥 in the 一品探花论坛 Blue 鈥淔irsts.鈥 The pins were attached by the graduates鈥 sponsors 鈥 the family members, friends and loved ones who walked to the front of the room with them to give support, a hug and smiles for lots of celebratory selfies.

The event was sponsored by the UNC Center for Student Success in the College of Arts and Sciences, the First-Generation Student Association and New Student and Family Programs.聽

Inspired by the lyrics of an Erykah Badu song, Griffin encouraged the graduates to 鈥減ack light鈥 as they leave 一品探花论坛. They should take along their resilience, perseverance, laughter, grace and curiosity and leave behind the 鈥渨ishes, should鈥檝es and I can鈥檛s.鈥澛犅

As first-gen students, 鈥測ou have accomplished something that research and data indicated that you had a low chance of doing. In essence, you all have defied the odds,鈥 Griffin said. 鈥淵our adventures are just beginning, so pack light.鈥澛

The 一品探花论坛 Center for Public Service honored 115 graduates of the Buckley Public Service Scholars program at a ceremony in Memorial Hall on May 10.聽

The class combined to contribute and log over 63,000 hours of service during their time in Chapel Hill. Five scholars shared stories from their service work and inspiration that ranged from raising awareness for pediatric cancer, teaching Spanish and organizing clothing drives to make formal wear more accessible for all.聽

Lynn Blanchard, director of the CCPS, welcomed guests and dedicated the ceremony to Walter White Buckley, founder of the program, who died in fall 2023. Collins, the associate dean, also spoke.聽

鈥淭he collective power of the individual can be seen in all of the ways each of you make a difference,鈥 he said. 鈥淭he work you engage in touches North 一品探花论坛鈥檚 counties, but also communities across our nation and around the world.鈥

Family poses for photo

The Red, White and 一品探花论坛 Blue Graduation Ceremony was held at the Frank Porter Graham Student Union on May 10, 2024.
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The University鈥檚 veterans and future military officers were recognized May 10 at the Red, White and 一品探花论坛 Blue Graduation. Graduates received red, white and blue honor cords along with challenge coins to acknowledge their military service and academic success. Sponsored by the Dean of Students, 一品探花论坛 Veterans Resource Center and the 一品探花论坛 Veterans Alumni Network, the ceremony is in its 10th year.聽聽

UNC System President Peter Hans spoke at the event, along with Vivian Redd 鈥05, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. 鈥淚 hope you鈥檙e leaving here with a love of country that is deeper for being more honest, larger for being more knowledgeable, and stronger for having been tested against the ideas and arguments of your fellow citizens,鈥 Hans said. 鈥淚 hope, too, that you will leave here with the confidence to be translators across American cultures that desperately need more points of connection.鈥澛

Interim Chancellor Lee H. Roberts also addressed the graduates. 鈥淭he world needs leaders with character and compassion to take on the challenges we face,鈥 Roberts said. 鈥淵ou are those leaders. It鈥檚 your turn to carry the University鈥檚 mission of service forward.鈥澛