Livingstone College awards 83 degrees, including inaugural MBAs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

Livingstone College News Service

SALISBURY — Livingstone College awarded 82 degrees at its 142nd Commencement Exercises on May 4, including its inaugural graduate degrees. 

During the ceremony inside Varick Auditorium, the college conferred master of business administration degrees to 11 students, including Phyllis Mahmud, who was also celebrating her 50-year undergraduate anniversary.

Bank of America Executive Maurice L. Coleman encouraged graduates to “keep on pushing” in his 16-minute address.

Coleman reminded graduates of an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”

The fight for equality and opportunity is long from over, Coleman remarked.

“So, my message to you graduates today is very simple: In the words of the legendary singer Curtis Mayfield…we must keep on pushing,” he said.

Coleman acknowledged his success but said he grew up poor with parents who instilled hard work and other good values in their children. He said his parents were together and worked hard for 53 years, and his father supported his mother when she went back to college in her 40s, earning a bachelor’s degree with honors.

After his speech, Coleman was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters, as were The Right Rev. Kenneth Monroe, chairman of the Livingstone College Board of Trustees; and Dr. Willie Joseph Tabor, a former leader of the college’s National Alumni Association. Presiding Elder Rev. Herbert Grant and Presiding Elder Moses L. Harvill were awarded the honorary doctor of divinity. 

The ceremony began with the singing of the national anthem followed by “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Bishop Dennis V. Proctor, presiding prelate of the Northeastern Episcopal District, gave the invocation, and Bishop Hilliard B. Dogbe, presiding prelate of the Western West Africa Episcopal District, read the scripture Philippians 4:4-9.

Greetings were brought by Monroe, Dr. Da’Tarvia Parrish, president of the College’s Faculty Assembly; and Student Government Association President Matthew Clinton. Valedictorian Collin Goodloe delivered the senior class tribute, and the Livingstone Choir performed “It Is To You” and “You are God.” 

Livingstone College President Dr. Anthony J. Davis recognized Dr. State W. Alexander III, vice president for communications and public relations and executive assistant to the president, who is retiring in June after 34 years.

A moment of silence was observed for former Livingstone College Interim President Dr. Roy D. Hudson, who served as president from 1995 to 1997, and for Nick Makel Hall, who had planned to compete on the Blue Bears football team in the fall and was awarded a bachelor of science in memoriam. 

Before the ceremony, “golden graduates” Pat Royal Jennings and LaChun Ellison Murdock reminisced about their years at Livingstone. Murdock said she attended Livingstone in large part because her older sister was already there and because she was among a group of Black students who integrated a high school and she “had to reconnect to us because being in the white high school, I didn’t feel welcome.” 

Melissa Floyd Trotman, among the “silver graduates” honored May 4, also said she decided to attend Livingstone after visiting her older sister on campus.

Mr. Livingstone College Jalen Robinson, an aspiring academic counselor or business teacher, said the institution has adequately prepared him for his future, and Wanda and Wayne Bratcher are confident their daughter, Wynashia Bratcher, will do well after receiving her bachelor’s degree in biology, magna cum laude. “Her father and I are so proud of her,” said her mom, sporting a T-shirt with her daughter’s picture. 

In his charge to the graduates, Livingstone’s president said commencement marks the end of them being guided and mentored by professors and the beginning of them taking ownership of their futures. 

“Make no mistake about it, you standing here today is proof positive that you’re efficient in AI, not artificial intelligence but …  acquired intelligence,” Davis said. “My charge to you is you don’t have next. You have now. The world you’re entering is wanting, waiting and watching for you to do something with that degree in your hand, that acquired intelligence you’ve gained over the past few years. You don’t have time to waste. Don’t be good. Go and be great.”