Aggies ready for the worldBy Naari Honor, Peacemaker Contributor / May 27, 2016
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More than 1,400 North Carolina A&T State University (N.C. A&T) graduates, one of largest graduating classes in the university’s history, were conferred degrees during the university’s May 14 Commencement at the Greensboro Coliseum. Chancellor Harold L Martin Sr. (’74) took a moment to shake each graduate’s hand and offer, what seemed to be, a personal message of encouragement. Support for the 2016 graduating class wasn’t just limited to supportive chants from loved ones in the stands. There were life-sized cut-outs of graduating seniors held by family members and extravagant floral bouquets.Within the crowd, a group of golden robed individuals were in close proximity to the 2016 graduates. The Golden Aggies, Class of 1966, were in town to celebrate their 50th anniversary. A few seats over sat members of the graduating class of 1991, who were celebrating their 25th anniversary. Both classes exhibited their enthusiasm for each graduate.
Martin told the graduates, “For 125 years, N.C. A&T has maintained a rich tradition in academics, research, discovery and outreach. It gives us great pride to be recognized as the No. 1 public HBCU in the nation [by U.S. News & World Report] and ranked among the top 10 of the nation’s outstanding historically Black institutions.”
Martin shared with the graduates and commencement attendees that N.C. A&T’s Middle College, a partnership between Guilford County Schools and the university for high school students, had a 100 percent graduation rate and 4-year college acceptance rate. Students at the middle college have also acquired 6 million dollars in scholarships, and 11 out of the current 28 students plan to enroll this fall at A&T.Anthony Foxx, the 17th United States Secretary of Transportation since 2013, served as this year’s commencement speaker. He offered the graduates three pieces of advice, “One, aspire to do great things. Two, use what you have. Do not worry about what you don’t have,” and “Three, you set your standards. Do not allow other people to set your standards for you,” said Foxx.
Since being appointed secretary, Foxx has made innovative strides in the transportation sector by examining the infrastructure of transportation over the next three decades versus merely analyzing the current status. Prior to his federal appointment, Foxx served as the youngest and second African American mayor of Charlotte from 2009 to 2013.
As the A&T graduates move on to the next chapters in their lives, many expressed thanks to their families for providing unconditional love and support. Graduation is an exciting time symbolizing the completion of one milestone while looking forward to an exciting future. In the audience, one could see families comprised of Aggie legacies as well as graduates who were the first in their family to finish college. But above all else, there is a bond among A&T Alumni unlike any other that can never be broken and is built on a strong foundation of Aggie Pride.