Seventh District U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre encouraged new graduates of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke to remember temper freedom with responsibility.
Rep. McIntyre delivered the commencement address Saturday morning on Lumbee Guaranty Field under partly cloudy skies moderated by a light breeze. For Chancellor Allen C. Meadors, it was his 10th spring commencement and his largest with more than 600 graduates.
Before a crowd estimated at more than 5,000, the 7th term congressman from Lumberton discussed freedom and responsibility.
“The paradox of true freedom is the more freedom you enjoy, the more responsibility binds us,” Rep. McIntyre said. “Freedom has been a sacred possession we have enjoyed as a nation for more than 200 years.
“The challenge is to do what we ought to do and to go out and make a difference in the life of our communities,” he said. “You are better equipped to do this today with your new degree than ever before.
“The three words I want you to remember are reject, inject and project,” he said. “Reject means sometimes you have to say no to senseless selfishness; inject yourself into the discussion, the conversation; project yourself to where you are headed; and project yourself in the future.”
Mary Ann Elliott, a pioneering entrepreneur in the satellite communications industry, received a Doctorate of Humane Letters during commencement ceremonies. From Lumberton, Elliott started an aerospace company in her basement that she turned into a $100 million a year operation.
Elliott also asked graduates to remember three things as they go forward with their lives.
“My success in life was made possible through the three Fs,” Elliott said. “Faith, family and friends gave me the courage to stand fast when needed and then to move forward with the strength that was needed when the road ahead brought many detours and disasters.”
As UNCP’s graduates launched themselves into the future, their plans for the summer revealed diverse directions.
Sean DeRuntz, an accounting graduate from Southern Pines, isn’t looking for a job.
“I’m going to take a shot at a section of the CPA (Certified Public Accounting) exam,” DeRuntz said. “Looking for a job is not my top priority.”
Ryan Regan, a Pembroke native and Mazda scholarship recipient, said his future is in the nation’s capital.
“I have a one-year student internship with the Bureau of Legislative Affairs in the State Department,” Regan said.
Lisa Walters, from Polkton, N.C., said she will take a break this summer.
“First, I will work for a month here at UNCP,” Walters said. “Then I’m going to get my apartment ready and take a mental break.”
Walters graduated with highest academic honors and will attend medical school at East Carolina University in the fall.
Hannah Woriax also graduated Summa Cum Laude and said she will attend medical school, but not yet.
“I’m 19, and they won’t let you in that young,” Woriax said. “I want to be a general practitioner and teach.”
Charlie Noble of Lumberton will interview for a job.
“I interned with the U.S. Marshals, and I am interviewing with them for a job in the next few weeks,” Noble said.
Brenda Eldridge, who also graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting, was not at the movies when she said she will move to Kansas this summer.
“My husband is in the military, and we’ll be there for a year while he takes graduate courses,” Eldridge said. “I plan to prepare for the CPA test.”
Christian Felkl, outgoing editor of UNCP’s award-winning student newspaper, will look for a job in television.
“I am hoping to get a job with TV News 14,” Felkl said. “It’s been a great four years.”
Clinton Haywood is a veteran and from Pembroke. He is staying at UNCP.
“I am happy to be here today, and I am not leaving yet,” Haywood said. “I’ve been accepted into the Master of Business Administration program, and I hope to start classes this summer.”
Among the more than 600 graduates, 123 received graduate degrees on Saturday. It was the first time that the Irwin Belk Sports Complex was host to commencement.
In another first for commencement, Dr. Susan Cannata, an English professor, received the 2009 UNC Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence. She served as grand marshal.