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UNC Charlotte honors graduates, looks ahead

The mortar board of one UNC Charlotte education major was decorated to read: “Keep Calm and Teach On.” Another 49er graduate’s message was “I Did It!”

And, of course, some students gave thanks to family: “Thanks Dad.”

Before thousands of friends and family, nearly 2,500 students were awarded bachelor’s degrees in two graduation ceremonies Saturday at Halton Arena on the UNC Charlotte campus. In addition, the university awarded roughly 740 master’s degrees and 85 doctorates.

During the morning ceremony for the colleges of Education and Liberal Arts and Sciences, UNC Charlotte Chancellor Phil Dubois told graduates “there are many paths to a college degree.” He singled out students who have persevered for more than four years, refusing to give up. He noted many have worked hard to balance school and jobs and called them “49er Finishers.”

Tynisha Roberts, 22, said she appreciated Dubois’ speech. She received a sociology degree five years after starting school.

“Everyone has their own struggles,” said Roberts, of Winston-Salem. She said the ceremony was exciting, though also “nerve-wracking” as she “tries to figure out what to do after school.”

She hopes to work in juvenile justice.

Dubois’ speech also highlighted physical changes coming to the university, designed to make it more integrated into the city of Charlotte. The school will play its first football game Aug. 31 against Campbell, at the school’s new stadium, McColl-Richardson Field. He told graduates they can return for the game as alumni.

The chancellor also noted construction will soon begin on a light-rail line connecting the university to uptown, which is scheduled to open in 2017.

Claire Young, 21, received her degree in elementary education, and hopes to work as a kindergarten or first-grade teacher.

“I want to help shape their lives,” said Young, a Charlotte native.

Her mortar board was decorated with her sorority Delta Zeta, as well as her initials “C.Y.,” which she said read “See Ya,” as in see you later.

During the ceremony, she said she reflected on how the university and her sorority have changed her over the past four years.

“I was looking back at how it’s changed me as a college graduate, and about the kids I have worked with,” Young said. “It’s awesome to think about that.”

UNC Charlotte honored former trustee Ruth Shaw, a former Duke Energy executive, with an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during the morning commencement ceremony. The school noted her support of higher education and corporate leadership during the ceremony.

During Shaw’s tenure on the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees, from 1995 to 2003 and again from 2005 to 2010, the university grew significantly, both in enrollment, the construction of new buildings, and the decision in 2008 to add football.

The university’s second ceremony Saturday was for graduates of the Belk College of Business, colleges of Arts and Architecture, Computing and Informatics, Health and Human Services, and the Lee College of Engineering.

Harrison: 704-358-5160
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