North Carolina Central University Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye and other university leaders will honor Spring 2020 graduates at 11 a.m. May 30, 2020 during the university’s 135th Annual Commencement Ceremony – the first to be viewed solely online.
The exercises will recognize the achievements of approximately 1,045 members of the Class of 2020, who had to complete their academic work off campus after the United States began imposing stay-at-home orders in response to the global pandemic involving COVID-19.
“I want to congratulate the esteemed spring class of 2020 for pushing beyond the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic to earn their degrees,” Chancellor Akinleye said. “This unique ceremony will honor the accomplishments and celebrate the hard work our graduates have put into completing their programs.”
Among the spring graduates are two doctoral recipients, Oswald Boa-Amponsem and Joab Odera, each of whom has earned a Ph.D. in integrated biosciences.
Boa-Amponsem, a native of Ghana, relocated to the United States after earning a master’s degree in Sweden. He got married and had three children while completing his dissertation. Among his academic highlights was co-authoring a groundbreaking paper with Professor Gregory Cole, Ph.D., on the effects of cannabinoid and alcohol exposure on fetal development that was published in the August 2019 Birth Defects Research Journal. He has accepted a post-doctoral post at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where his wife, Abigail, is studying nursing.
Odera came to North Carolina from Kenya after winning a scholarship to play tennis at Winston-Salem State University. After earning his undergraduate degree there before enrolling in NCCU’s Integrated Biosciences Program in 2016. He played a key role in the research of Professor Xiaoxin Luke Chen, Ph.D., who investigates esophageal cancer. Odera plans to continue his work in cancer research through a post-doctoral position.
Others receiving advanced degrees include 108 Juris Doctor candidates from the NCCU School of Law and 316 earning master’s degrees from the university. The highest numbers of master’s degrees awarded were Master of Science (94), Master of Social Work (74), Master of Arts (48) and Master of Public Administration (33).
Of the 620 receiving bachelor’s degrees, 345 received a Bachelor of Science degree, 109 Bachelor of Arts, and 75 Bachelor of Business Administration.
Among the recipients of bachelor’s degrees is Joshualan Parrish, the first Cheatham-White Scholar to graduate since the N.C. General Assembly created the fully-funded merit program in 2017. Earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science within a record two years, Parrish will enter into Wake Forest University Law School as a first-year law student in fall 2020.
While enrolled at NCCU, the graduating class donated nearly 1 million hours to community service work, which is valued as a $2.5 million contribution to the economy and community.