Set A Record for Winter Commencement
As Ronnie Eddings
entered Jones Athletic Complex before the Dec. 14 Winter Commencement,
he dropped the sash that he was awarded for community service.
companion, a golden retriever, quickly returned it to him. In the motorized
wheelchair that has become familiar on the UNC Pembroke campus, Eddings
received his Bachelor of Science degree Saturday morning and a standing
ovation from his 328 fellow graduates.
If graduation is
a time to talk about overcoming obstacles, Eddings could write a book.
He was wounded during Desert Storm and continues to struggle with health
"I have been
in a coma three times," he said. "I took many tests while
in intensive care."
If graduation is
a time to talk about going forth to do good work, Eddings' social work
degree and his award for volunteering at Odum Baptist Home for Children
exemplifies that ideal. He also graduated with honors.
There were a record
number of graduates at the three-year-old Winter Commencement at The
Givens Performing Arts Center. There were also a record 91 graduate
degrees were conferred.
Grand Marshal and
keynote speaker Paul Flowers professed the virtues and sadness of "fear
as a motivational factor." A chemistry professor, Dr. Flowers was
the 2002 winner of the UNC Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence.
firmly believe that fear is an unavoidable emotion for healthy, mature
humans, and that it is our response to fear that sets apart strong from
weak, success from failure," Dr. Flowers said.
Dr. Flowers told
the graduates that his introduction to fear came from watching the tears
of his own single mother as she struggled to raise two sons.
"Later I came
to realize her fear was the fear of what the future might hold for her,
my brother and me," he said. "She responded to that fear with
years of hard work, personal sacrifice and unconditional love that saw
our family through. To this day, I make every effort to follow her example."
youthful fears and challenges in the educational system, Dr. Flowers
said that he was challenged by the responsibility of raising his own
college graduate is a person who experiences and acknowledges fear,
but one who feels confident in their ability to prevent its realization,
a person with their arms open, receptive and tolerant, ready to embrace
the future with their eyes open, knowledgeable and competent,"
he said. "I hope you fear the future, and that you overcome that
fear with great achievements."
conferring graduate and baccalaureate degrees, Chancellor Allen C. Meadors
encouraged the graduates to "go for it with a passion."
is an investment, the cornerstone upon which you can build a great life,"
Chancellor Meadors said. "If you continue investing in education,
it will continue to reward you."
to the graduates were Hannah Gage, a member of the UNC Board of Governors,
Dr. Gretchen Bataille, UNC's senior vice president for Academic Affairs,
Gary Oxendine, chair of the UNCP Board of Trustees, Dr. Thomas Dooling,
chair of the UNCP Faculty Senate, Brandon Davis, president of the UNCP
Student Government Association and Dr. Dwight Pearson, president of
the UNCP Alumni Association.
Music was provided
by the University Concert Band and the Pembroke Singers under the direction
of Dr. Gary Wright.
to University Newswire