The 458 graduates of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke were given advice and encouragement at Winter Commencement on December 8.
Keynote speaker and award-winning physics and astronomy professor, Dr. Jose D’Arruda offered a story about his own education that few, if any, had heard before.
Dr. Jose D’Arruda, Grand Marshal and Commencement Speaker
Dr. D’Arruda, who has spent 32 years in UNCP’s classrooms, graduated from high school twice, he said. After finishing in a non-college track, he returned to high school only to be told there were no seats in one class, and that he would have to stand at the back of the room.
“I remember how humiliating it was to go back after I had just graduated, and this was compounded by the fact that when I went to chemistry class, Mr. Pelletier sent me back to the office saying they had no room for me in the class,” Dr. D’Arruda said.
“So, stand I did, and by the end of the year, I won first prize in the science fair with my experimental nuclear cloud chamber.
Don Woods and Salyna Dvorovy
“Lesson – don’t give up on yourself no matter what people say or how hard things may be,” he said.
The 2007 UNC Board of Governors teaching award winner also advised the graduates to find their addiction. His passion was microcomputers at the time they were first introduced to the public in the early 1980s.
“I was addicted, and no amount of good advice or friendly warning could change my mind,” he said. “Technology has changed the world; don’t miss the next revolution.
“Get addicted, all you need is a heart, a little courage and a brain, qualities which you all have and only need to attach to a dream.”
Among the graduates were three University Marshals who led several processions of graduates during their college careers. Having heard more than the usual number of commencement speeches, they offered some advice of their own.
“I would offer the advice my father used to give me,” said Siiri Sibbett, an international student and business major. “Stay in school as long as you can and have fun, because you have the rest of your life to work.”
Chief Marshal Don Woods, a non-traditional student from Hoke County, said his advice is from the heart of a social work major.
“The education they have received has prepared our new college graduates to be a resource to the world and make a difference,” Woods said. “I’m a social worker, so for me, it’s about helping others. I would like to see a world more focused on helping others.”
Woods worked his way through college as did fellow Marshal Salyna Dvorovy, who appreciates the value of work.
“I did just about everything from waitress to convenience store clerk,” Dvorovy said. “I’m going to get a job, so I can get more experience and then go to graduate school to study marine biology.”
Chancellor Allen C. Meadors, who presided over commencement ceremonies, offered the final piece of advice.
“Always appreciate the past, but don’t be held back by it,” Chancellor Meadors said. “Remember this American Indian saying: we don’t inherit this earth from our forefathers; we borrow it from our children.”
Greetings to the graduates and their families where given by William Smith, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, Dr. Breeden Blackwell, chair of the UNCP Board of Trustees, Dr. David Zeibler, chair of the Faculty Senate, Dwight Humphrey, president of the Student Government Association and Floyd Locklear, first vice president of the Alumni Association.
One hundred and sixteen of the 458 students received graduate degrees on Saturday.