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2,000 new graduates celebrate in the Dean Dome

Another 2,113 UNC students switched their tassels to officially become alumni Sunday afternoon. 

“As our president Tom Ross says, ‘This is our time and our future,’” Chancellor Carol Folt said. “Well, graduates, today is your time and this begins your future.”

Approximately 4,000 members of the UNC community gathered in the Dean Smith Center to celebrate the baccalaureate, master’s, professional and doctoral students who earned their degrees in either August or December 2015.

Folt presided over the ceremony and introduced each speaker, including UNC-system President Tom Ross, who said his presence at the December commencement would be his last public act as system president.

Ross commended the recent graduates and praised Folt:

“There is not a single chancellor in the entire University system that I am more proud of than Carol Folt,” Ross said. “Carol has come into the seat of chancellor of this great University during difficult times and she has handled her position extremely well.”

Kelly Hogan, director of instructional innovation for the College of Arts and Sciences and a senior STEM lecturer, was the December commencement speaker. She made her address to the new graduates and audience members interactive.

To begin her speech, Hogan asked for anyone with a smart phone to take it out and have it ready.

“Today, I’ll stress the importance of embracing the diversity you’ve grown to appreciate in your time at UNC,” Hogan said. “By truly understanding the perspectives of others, we know you will continue to accomplish great things.”

She shared with the audience how she changed her perspective as an educator — from a teacher-centered approach to a learner-centered one.

“I might apologize to many of the first few thousand students I taught,” Hogan said. “I may not have believed in them the way I wholeheartedly believe in you.”

She asked graduates and audience members to think of a time when their perspective changed and to use their phones to answer an online poll.

“What was the most important in causing your change of perspective? A. Data or Evidence B. Better understanding of someone C. Culture around me changed D. Other,” she asked.

Hogan said learning more about the perspectives of her students through data caused her to question the effectiveness of her teaching methods.

She also used visual representation to show the diversity of the graduates by asking students to stand when a certain demographic pertained to them. Some of the characteristics included “members of the military,” “transfer students” and “changed their major at least once.”

Hogan urged graduates to take every opportunity available to challenge and widen their perspectives and to open themselves up to vulnerability and risks in order to achieve what scholar and author Brené Brown considers a “wholehearted life.”

“Graduates, it may not be obvious to you yet — but when you take a risk, you also set yourself up for life’s greatest rewards,” she said.

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