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The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
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University Newswire
PO Box 1510
Pembroke, NC 28372-1510
Date: December 16, 2002
Contact: Scott Bigelow
Email: scott.bigelow@uncp.edu
Phone: 910.521.6351
Fax: 910.521.6694
 

UNCP Graduates 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.

Chancellor Meadors congratulating graduate Ronnie EddingsHis 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 problems.

"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.

Dr. Paul Flowers"I 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."

After surviving youthful fears and challenges in the educational system, Dr. Flowers said that he was challenged by the responsibility of raising his own children.

"The ideal 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."

After ceremonially conferring graduate and baccalaureate degrees, Chancellor Allen C. Meadors encouraged the graduates to "go for it with a passion."

"Education 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."

Offering greetings 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.

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The University of North Carolina at Pembroke Updated: Monday, December 16, 2002
Copyright © 2001-2002 The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
University Newswire
PO Box 1510
Pembroke, NC 28372-1510
Phone: 910.521.6351
Fax: 910.521.6694
Email: scott.bigelow@uncp.edu