Tar Heels turn tassels, leave UNC behind

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Seniors anticipate moving their tassels during graduation this Sunday at Kenan Stadium.

The class of 2013 waved pool noodles, unicorn-shaped helium balloons and “Hey Mom!” signs as they waited for the graduation ceremony to begin Sunday.

The 6,027 graduates sat among the 35,000 in attendance at the commencement, which fell, as it always does, on Mother’s Day.

Steve Case, co-founder of America Online and this year’s commencement speaker, urged the graduating class to keep learning during his address.

“Be curious,” he said. “Be open. Be flexible. Let your life unfold as a series of chapters. Don’t be so fixated on a specific ending that you neglect to open the door when opportunity knocks.”

Case talked about his keys to success, crediting the accomplishments of AOL to what he calls the three P’s — people, passion and perseverance.

“I hope you’ll remember those three key attributes,” he said.

“And constantly reassess your own lives — and your own choices — to be sure you’re working with and for the best possible team of people, you’re rabidly passionate about whatever path you choose and you have the perseverance to stick with it through the tough times.”

Case also stressed the importance of entrepreneurship and said innovation is the key to successful communities.

At the end of his speech, Case asked everyone in the audience to stand for a picture, which he tweeted with the hashtag #UNC.

Earlier in the ceremony, Paul Fulton of the Board of Governors presented English professor Darryl Gless with the UNC Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching, and five distinguished honorees were presented with honorary degrees.

Tim Palmer, president of the senior class, urged his classmates to remember two things as they leave school.

“Remember what Eve Carson taught us,” he said. “As we strive to be great, always remember to be good.

“And the second thing to remember is that the University is your home, and we are all your family.”

The Tar Pit erupted in cheers as senior class Vice President Nora Chan instructed the class of 2013 to move their tassels from right to left to signify their new status as graduates.

Senior Emily Smith said graduating felt unreal.

“It’s weird,” she said. “It’s kind of surreal. I did not think this would come so soon.”

Smith advised undergraduates not to take themselves too seriously during college.

“Just have fun,” she said. “And enjoy yourself — but not so much that you don’t graduate.”

Contact the desk editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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