graduates a record 406 students May 8
By Scott Bigelow
Senator Elizabeth Dole encouraged graduates of The University of North
Carolina at Pembroke to be passionate in the pursuit of their goals.
Sen. Dole spoke
to an audience of 4,000, including a record 406 graduates, during an
outdoor Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 8. It was the first outdoor
commencement at UNCP since Bill Cosby spoke in 1998.
"If you are
truly passionate about what you are doing, the sky is the limit,"
Sen. Dole said. "I do know what it is like to face challenges."
The senator from
North Carolina has shattered many barriers during her long career of
public service that began during the Nixon administration. In 2002,
Sen. Dole was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from North
I had a business card with 'Senator' in front of my name, I had other
glass ceilings to break," she said. "The path I chose to take
was certainly the one less traveled in Washington, D.C."
being one of 24 women in a class of more than 500 men at Harvard Law
School, Sen. Dole was the only woman to serve on the Federal Trade Commission
and the first woman to head a branch of the armed services, the U.S.
"There will always be daunting challenges, and when they say it
can't be done, I can't wait to try, " Sen. Dole said.
There are several
issues that Sen. Dole is passionate about today. One of those issues
is dear to the hearts of many who attended graduation at the University
that was founded in 1887 as the nation's first state supported institution
of higher education for American Indians.
"I am passionately
pursuing the recognition of the Lumbee Indians," she said. "I
introduced this as my first legislative initiative in the United States
Senate because it is the right thing to do - it is the fair thing to
Dole said the casino gambling issue poses a difficult problem for Lumbee
are now spending millions of dollars to derail the progress of this
bill, based on the premise that passage will promote gaming on Lumbee
land," she said. "This argument holds no water with me. Indian
gaming has only been around since the 1980s, yet the tribe has been
seeking federal recognition since the 1880s."
A buyout of federal
tobacco allotments is another difficult battle that Sen. Dole is passionate
about. She was speaking in the heart of tobacco country.
"I don't need
to tell you all why a tobacco quota buyout is essential for North Carolina,
but unfortunately I have to convince a lot of folks from places like
Maine and Minnesota," she said.
Sen. Dole, who
fought for public safety as Secretary of Transportation and against
world hunger as president of the American Red Cross, said, when all
is said and done, that passion makes the difference.
questions we will ask ourselves is what did I stand for? Did I make
a positive difference in the lives of others?" she said. "That,
UNCP graduates, is what truly matters."
what you can do in this journey called life," Sen. Dole said. "Place
no boundary on your aspirations."
In his closing
words to the graduates, UNCP Chancellor Allen C. Meadors urged graduates
to keep their dreams in focus.
experience here at UNCP strengthen you for the journey ahead,"
Chancellor Meadors said. "Have clear and focused goals and make
your long term goals part of your every day life."
to the graduates were UNC President Molly Corbett Broad, Dr. Dudley
Ford, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, Gervais Oxendine, chair
of the UNCP Board of Trustees, Dr. Thomas Dooling, chair of the General
Faculty, Alphonza Thomas, vice president of the Student Government Association
and Hal Sargent II, president of the Alumni Association.
Scenes from Commencement
to University Newswire