Durham County

NCCU chancellor: This is a robust group of graduates

A happy graduate shows off her diploma during N.C. Central’s fall commencement on Saturday at McDougald-McLendon Arena.
A happy graduate shows off her diploma during N.C. Central’s fall commencement on Saturday at McDougald-McLendon Arena. N.C. Central University

A record number of December graduates received their diplomas Saturday during N.C. Central University's fall semester commencement ceremonies at McDougald-McLendon Arena.

N.C. Central conferred more than 600 diplomas, including two doctorates, 176 graduate and professional degrees and 233 undergraduate diplomas.

It was the greatest number of degrees awarded by the university during December graduation ceremony, according to a news release.

NCCU Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye offered his congratulations to those receiving their diplomas.

“This robust group of graduates is a testament to NCCU’s commitment to offering a world-class education that prepares students for successful careers,” Akinleye said.

Akinleye also recognized Service Impact Award winner Jonika Harrison, a social work major and transfer student who contributed 456 community service hours while enrolled at NCCU. She recently organized major a food drive to benefit children attending local elementary schools.

Another student Akinleye spotlighted was Justin Trotman, who earned his degree in criminal justice in three years while also serving in student government. Trotman, who also ran track for the Eagles, completed a rigorous co-op program with the U.S. Marshals Service, too. Trotman will begin working for the U.S. Department of Defense shortly after graduation, Akinleye said.

The keynote speaker was WTVD anchor and reporter Tisha Powell. She encouraged the graduates to stay focused on their goals even after receiving their diplomas.

Powell put on a pair of boxing gloves during her speech and warned the audience that adversity is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to crush their dreams.

“Never forget you have the tools necessary to achieve greatness, and never lose your thirst for knowledge,” she said.

Dal Khatri and Quantil Melendez, the students who each earned their Ph.D. in integrated biosciences, became the fourth and fifth doctoral candidates to complete the NCCU program. It was created five years ago to train minority researchers.

“Our Ph.D. students are especially important to the global marketplace because they will help investigate diseases and other causes of health disparities in the United States and abroad,” Akinleye said.

More than 430 bachelor’s degrees were awarded, including 233 Bachelor of Science degrees; 106 Bachelor of Arts degrees; 47 Bachelor of Business Administration degrees; 27 Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees; 18 Bachelor of Social Work degrees; and seven Bachelor of Music degrees.

The NCCU School of Law had 13 students receive their juris doctor degrees. More than 160 master’s degrees were awarded in areas of science, arts, public administration, library science, business administration, teaching, music and school administration.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews