|Justice Mike Morgan|
|Ph.D. Graduates (L to R) Edmondson, Onabanjo and Arthur|
North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law alumnus and North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Mike Morgan will provide the keynote address for the NCCU 129th Graduate and Professional Commencement on Friday, May 12.
The ceremony for approximately 518 graduates receiving diplomas from 36 doctoral, master’s and professional programs will take place at 3 p.m. in McDougald-McLendon Arena.
NCCU will award its first cohort of doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in integrated biosciences during the ceremony. Three students: Rasheena Edmondson from Wilson County, N.C., Elena Arthur originally from Ghana, and Helen Onabanjo from Nigeria will receive the first Ph.D.s awarded by the university in more than 50 years.
Arthur has been working with NCCU professor Jiaua Xie, Ph.D., on research into proteins that could protect beta cells in the pancreas, which are diminished in patients with diabetes. Arthur plans to enter into a postdoctoral program following graduation.
Onabanjo has worked closely with NCCU professor Kevin Williams, Ph.D., on cancer research. She plans to begin her career in the field drug development. Onabanjo is also interested in becoming a patient advocate in clinical trials that include diverse populations.
Edmondson aspires to join the pharmaceutical industry after graduation, either in a clinical or administrative role. She has worked alongside NCCU professor Liju Yang, Ph.D., studying cellular activities, among other topics.
The degree offers two tracks – biomedical sciences and pharmaceutical sciences.
The university awarded doctoral degrees in education from 1955 to 1964. In 1955, Walter M. Brown, Ph.D., former dean of NCCU’s School of Education became the first person to receive a Ph.D. awarded by a historically black college or university in the United States.
Justice Morgan, a New Bern, N.C., native, was elected to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2016 as an associate justice. Prior to his election, Morgan served for almost 27 years as a judge in Wake County’s Superior and District courts. Earlier, he served in the North Carolina Department of Justice for 10 years.
Morgan is a veteran faculty member of the National Judicial College. He has served on the board of directors for Re-Entry Inc., an organization that provides guidance and opportunities to individuals following their involvement in the criminal justice system.
Morgan is an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Inc. and the Voter Education Coalition, among other groups. He also is a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Morgan’s professional associations include the United States Supreme Court Bar, Wake County Bar Association and the Child Advocacy Center of North Carolina.
He received a bachelor’s degree in history and sociology from Duke University and his Juris Doctor degree from NCCU.