"A commencement is a beginning," said Dr. Shelby Stephenson in his address to graduates of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. "Every beginning contains a universe of possibilities."
UNCP granted 250 baccalaureate and graduate degrees Saturday, Dec. 15 at Winter Commencement ceremonies at the Givens Performing Arts Center.
A long-time English professor and winner of the 2001 UNC Board of Governors' Award for Teaching Excellence, Dr. Stephenson encouraged graduates to "have the courage to follow your dreams" and to find inspiration for their lives from their own backyard.
"Start with the local and then go to the imaginary that play on memory and the imagination applies to any student," Dr. Stephenson said. "Realizing the universe within the local - whether it is the media, the environment, the self, the church, religion, farming and so forth -- is a way to see new approaches and insights into the human experience."
Dr. Stephenson said it the goal of all men and women is "to build a better and believable world." The poet and teacher offered these verses regarding the pursuit of that ideal from one of his poems:
- "..go for the long ride in the scattering trust: there is time for the considerable joy the body craves,
- "..inhabit the earth in the measured intention of the heart: let go the usual before our narrower selves settle for something less than divine's whole measure."
It was the third Winter Commencement in UNCP history since it was established by Chancellor Allen C. Meadors.
"As you leave UNCP, I hope you do not see this as the end of your education, rather the cornerstone of an educational process that will last throughout your life," Chancellor Meadors said in his final words to the graduates. "Approach every day with enthusiasm because life is too short to dwell on the negatives."
"Whatever you do in life, do it was a passion and will find joy."
Offering greetings to the graduates where Mrs. Teena Little on behalf of the UNC Board of Governors; Dr. Russ Lea for the UNC Office of the President; Dr. Cheryl Locklear for the UNCP Board of Trustees; Dr. Patrick Cabe for the faculty and Mr. Dane Onorio from the Student Government Association.
Dr. Dwight Pearson, president of the Alumni Association, told the graduates that they official members of the Alumni Association, and they remain "the life blood the university."
Music was provided by the UNCP Concert Band under the direction of Mr. Timothy Altman.