NCCU awards 408 master’s, law degrees

May. 10, 2013 @ 06:58 PM

Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, told more than 400 N.C. Central University graduates who received master’s and law degrees Friday that they are beginning a journey, not ending one.

Taylor, speaking in an easy, casual style, told graduates that they should take only a few days to revel in their accomplishment, then begin the hard work of building careers.

“After you graduate should be when you really start learning,” Taylor said. “You must become an expert in your chosen profession.”

Taylor said once the graduates begin their careers, they should find two mentors – one inside the organization for which they work and one from outside – who can provide guidance and advice.

He said it’s equally important to find a sponsor in the organization, someone in a position to make promotions to help advance their careers.

Also, Taylor urged graduates to perform an annual review of their careers.

“You need to ask, ‘Is this still working for me?’ Taylor said. “If it’s not, you need to develop a plan. There’s nothing wrong with moving on.”

As president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Taylor oversees a philanthropic organization that raises college tuition money for black students and general scholarship funds.

Named in honor of Thurgood Marshall, the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African American justice, the Fund has raised more than $200 million for programs and scholarships for nearly 300,000 students at 47-member schools.

Taylor told the graduates not to allow racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination to keep them from reaching their goals. 

“Someone in this life will discriminate against you,” Taylor said. “Succeed in spite of it. Discrimination exists, just as gravity exists. But in spite of gravity, planes take off and trees grow. Gravity is omnipresent, but it’s not omnipotent.”

The university awarded 246 master’s degrees and 162 law degrees for a total of 408 on Friday.

Today, during its undergraduate commencement, the university will award 712 bachelor’s degrees, which when combined with the 408 degrees awarded Friday, will total 1,120 degrees, a record for NCCU.

The university also awarded 597 degrees in December for a total of 1,717 degrees for the 2012-13 academic year, which is also a record, topping the previous record of 1,550 recorded in 1,550.

Today’s graduation will take place in the university’s O’Kelly–Riddick Stadium.

Fredricka Whitfield, news anchor and correspondent for CNN, will be the guest speaker.