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NCCU Awards Degrees to 680 Undergraduates in Spring 2019

Members of the NCCU Class of 2019
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

“Get up, get together and get involved,” the Rev. Dr. William R. Barber II urged more than 680 North Carolina Central University (NCCU) students assembled for the 2019 Baccalaureate Commencement Ceremony on May 11.

The number of degrees conferred included 339 Bachelor of Science; 193 Bachelor of Arts; 71 Bachelor of Business Administration; 24 Bachelor of Social Work; 50 Bachelor of Science in Nursing; and seven Bachelor of Music degrees.

Keynote speaker Barber, an alumnus of NCCU, congratulated the graduates under sunny skies in O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium. He told them they should feel compelled to use their education to help reduce poverty, racism and other injustices in America and around the world.

“You cannot merely get a job and a car and quarantine your life,” Barber said. “Your graduation is more than just getting another slice of materialism. You must stand against injustice and be part of reviving the heart of this nation.”

He also asked them to recall how much their predecessors accomplished without great means.

“When they beat slavery, Harriet Tubman didn’t have Facebook and Twitter, but she had a made-up mind,” he said.

The Greenville, N.C., native focuses his ministry on achieving equal rights and opportunities for all, and has led a reorganized Poor People’s Campaign, initially founded in 1968 by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others.

During the celebration, NCCU Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye commended one graduate in particular, Denzel Goodlin, a social work major who was tapped as an All-Star by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The involvement led to Goodlin’s development of peer-to-peer mental health workshops and other programs that assist students.

Goodlin also studies the Christian Bible and conducted research in Israel in 2016. He will continue his education this fall at Yale University’s Master of Divinity program and hopes later to obtain a doctoral degree in homiletics or theology.

“Today, Denzel stands among us as an exemplary model of scholarship and service,” Akinleye said.

Akinleye also recognized the five valedictorians of the class of 2019: Safwan Ali, Erika Ianovale, Jennifer Maxwell, Abigail Sherrod and Richard Schneider.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, four faculty members were awarded for their effective and transformative teaching styles at NCCU and within the University of North Carolina System. 

Jonathan Livingston, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, was presented with the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award in Teaching Excellence, the System’s highest award for faculty members.

Livingston attributed his success and award to the now-retired NCCU professors who took him under their wings.

“This award is for those who worked tirelessly at this university, for those who ensured that I knew how to teach effectively and made sure that I was able to infuse my research with what I was teaching in the classroom,” Livingston said.

Recipients of the university’s 2018-2019 Award for Excellence in Teaching included Yvette Bonaparte, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing; Christopher Paul, Ph.D., assistant professor of public administration; and Nina Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of human sciences.

“As an educator, you have the privilege and responsibility each day to do the best that you can to help shape the lives of students in a positive direction,” Bonaparte said. “This award is important to me because I see it as recognition that my efforts in the classroom are having a positive impact on students.”

“It is humbling to be recognized for something that I love doing and it means the world to be recognized for these efforts,” Smith said.  “I have the opportunity to impact lives daily and I try my best to maximize every encounter I have with students.”

“What makes the role of professor so wonderful is the shared learning that happens within the classroom, and I am honored to facilitate the students in their growth and progress towards their public service goals,” Paul added.

To view a rebroadcast of the 133rd Commencement Exercises, visit www.nccu.edu/live. For photos and videos from the ceremony, visit https://www.dropbox.com/sh/tvhjqcmgntjpjm0/AAAfOOwTy42xeXFkP14lBRaza?dl=0.


Published: Saturday, May 11, 2019
by Senior Writer and Editor, Renee Elder
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