If any of the 395 graduates at UNC Pembroke's Winter Commencement on December 13 did not take Dr. Jeffery Geller's class, the philosophy professor made sure they got the benefit of his wisdom and wit at least once.
There were a record number of graduates at UNCP's Winter Commencement that included 75 graduate students.
Dr. Geller, a popular UNCP professor and recipient of UNC's highest honor for teaching in 2003, gave the graduates a short course in philosophy Saturday from the podium of the Givens Performing Arts Center.
"Besides sleep deprivation, you have been subject to other trials," Dr. Geller told the graduates. "This was not an easy initiation. You were asked to care about subjects that you did not previously care about."
"Because you were in a psychologically vulnerable state, you were ripe for brainwashing," he said. "Under these conditions, we could have convinced you to join any number of cults, but we did not do that to you."
"We, the faculty, made you effective problem solvers," Geller continued. "Life has problems. Here, the consequences for failure were fairly mild."
"We exposed you to a barrage of problems, but they were designer problems, that were designed to have solutions," he said. "We implanted in you the belief - the faith - that every problem has a solution."
"If we did our jobs, then you will face the future, not with trepidation or anxiety, but with the experience of having faced a lot of problems in the past," Dr. Geller concluded. "You should say, 'I am ready, bring them on.'"
Every graduate at the December 13 Winter Commencement at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke had list of things to be thankful for.
The oldest graduate at Winter Commencement, at 66, J.C. Worthington said he was thankful "for the support of my family." A retired veteran, Worthington worked several jobs on campus and left with a degree in social work.
Fayetteville native, Cornelia Murchison's husband Darrall said he was thankful that his wife "already has a job." Mrs. Murchison graduated in just three years with a degree in community health education and a job with the Hoke County Health Department.
Durham native Misty Sykes also worked on campus with several departments while earning a master's degree in service agency counseling. She was thankful "that God gave me the motivation and perseverance to do this."
Erica Wall of Rockingham, who was holding newborn son, Dawayne, was thankful just to finish her degree in sociology. "I did it in three years, but I was pregnant the last semester. It was hard."
A cold, blustery day did not chill the spirits of the graduates. Chancellor Allen C. Meadors bid a warm farewell to the record class of graduates with the advice to "go for it."
Offering greetings to the graduates were Gervais Oxendine for the UNCP Board of Trustees, Leslie Winner, Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel for the University of North Carolina, Dr. Thomas Dooling for the faculty, Nadean Hafner for the Student Government Association and Hal Sargent II for the Alumni Association.