NCCU Alumna Dr. Naima Stennett Urges Graduates to be Willing to Adapt During NCCU’s 138th Commencement Exercises

Posted January 18, 2022, 10:37AM
Naima Stennett, M.D., '10, '13, UNC Campus Health primary care sports physician

NCCU awarded a record number of degrees during the university’s 138th Commencement Exercises. Graduates represent largest fall class in university history. 

Approximately 757 North Carolina Central University (NCCU) graduates received their degrees on Dec. 11, 2021, during the university’s 138th Commencement Exercises.

The degree recipients included 471 undergraduates, 278 graduates and 8 juris doctor.

NCCU alumna and University of North Carolina (UNC) Campus Health primary care sports medicine physician Naima Stennett, M.D., delivered the keynote address at both ceremonies, encouraging graduates to “be willing to adapt.”

Stennett offered three guidelines to help graduates navigate the next chapter in their life, including how to develop a plan with a willingness to rewrite it; the importance of understanding the magnitude of gratitude; and allowing service to be a new measure of success.

“You are now equipped with what you need as it relates to your ability to continue to adapt and show gratitude. Know that success is synonymous with service,” she said. “No matter what careers you decide to pursue after leaving NCCU, you are all empowered to soar towards greatness.”

Kelvin Nixon Jr.’s initial journey to obtain his degree began in 2002; however, it included many setbacks at various universities and community colleges, which led to academic dismissal. According to Nixon, his academic experience at NCCU was life changing. He appreciates his professors for their genuine passion for helping students, regardless of status or age, and for inspiring him to educate individuals on the importance of mental health. Today, he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology.

During the graduate ceremony, NCCU Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye recognized Liberia, West Africa native, Kenmina Devine who earned a master’s degree after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from NCCU. After her family's agricultural investment was washed away due to uncharacteristic rainfall, Devine was driven to continue her studies in the Department of Environmental, Earth and Geospatial Sciences’ accelerated graduate program in earth sciences. Her family’s misfortune fueled her graduate research, which sheds light on unique rainfall patterns across Liberia and how climate change has ushered in an era of extreme rainfall variability in parts of the country. She plans to continue her research in a doctoral program at North Carolina State University.

An estimated 471 bachelor’s degrees were awarded, including 286 Bachelor of Science degrees; 88 Bachelor of Arts degrees; 54 Bachelor of Business Administration degrees; 16 Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees; and 27 Bachelor of Social Work degrees.

Approximately eight graduates of the NCCU School of Law received their juris doctor degrees, and an estimated 278 master’s degrees were awarded in areas of science, arts, public administration, library science, social work, education, information science, business administration, teaching, music and school administration.

Akinleye closed the ceremony by charging the graduates and said, “NCCU is counting on your success and will support you as you ascend to the highest of heights. Nurture the grounds that helped you grow and support your alma mater – with your resources, advocacy and ambassadorship. You have responsibility for sustaining the legacy of these sloping hills and verdant green.” 

Watch highlights from the ceremony here

Photos from the ceremony are available here.

A rebroadcast of NCCU’s 138th Commencement Exercises is available on the university’s YouTube channel here.  

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The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 7 p.m. in the NCCU Student Center Event Hall at 500 Nelson St.