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WSSU Class of 2024 depart to serve with inspiring message from US Vice President

Winston-Salem State University unleashed genius into the world at its spring commencement on May 10 at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

This class was unique as it was the class that felt the disruptions of the global pandemic as students transitioned from high school graduates to college freshmen. Their high school graduations were mostly likely in person and college orientations were shackled by social distancing.

Those giving remarks reflected on their perseverance.

“As we gather here to celebrate your achievements, we’re reminded of the dedication, hard work and perseverance that has brought us to this moment,” said Kathleen Kelly, chair of the WSSU Board of Trustees.

“Your class felt the greatest impact of the global pandemic. We stand witness to the culmination of the years of resilience, personal growth and many shared accomplishments. I commend you for your resilience and commitment to excellence,” she said. 

WSSU SGA President Tyrone McNair Jr. reminded his classmates that they experienced a non-traditional “Ramdition,” which is WSSU’s new student orientation. Like seeds being placed in the ground, the tools, knowledge, and advice students received along the way watered and nurtured them to this moment, he said.

“Growth may not have been easy. You endured struggles but kept going,” McNair said.

WSSU Interim Chancellor Dr. Anthony Graham reminded graduates what makes WSSU great. It is the No. 1 institution for social mobility in the state of North Carolina and 98 percent of its degree programs have a positive return on investment according to a Deloitte study. This means, he said, that “our faculty design our degree programs to position our graduates to enter careers post gradation and generate income that will sustain their families for the entirety of their lives.”

Graham also surprised graduates with a special video message from U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Congratulations to the HBCU Class of 2024. Well, you made it. Through early morning classes and late-night study sessions, through remote learning and social distancing, with the support of your friends, family and the faculty and staff, you made it to graduation. Our nation is so proud of you,” Harris said.

“No matter what path you choose to follow from here, our nation needs you. We need your ambition, we need your aspirations, we need your voice, and we need your leadership in our schools, hospitals, courtrooms, as tech founders, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and leaders of the highest levels of government. We need you to continue to work to build a brighter future for our nation and our world. And you are ready,” Harris continued.

As an HBCU graduate herself, Harris said she knows the value of attending a historically Black institution, where you leave having been taught that you can do and be anything.

Reginald Holley, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, said in his remarks that commencement is also a time to recognize the dedication and contributions of faculty members as he presented the 2024 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching to Dr. Sara Migliarese.

Migliarese is a tenured professor and assistant chair in the Department of Physical Therapy at WSSU. An inaugural member of the physical therapy faculty of 1993, she was instrumental in achieving accreditation for the Master of Physical Therapy program, the first graduate degree program for WSSU.

Click here for photos that captured the day.


About Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region, and beyond. It is ranked the No. 1 university in North Carolina for social mobility by U.S. News & World Report. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and X.


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