Fall grads encouraged to persevere


ECU graduates celebrate at fall commencement. (Photo by Jay Clark)

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Dr. Ravi Paul urged East Carolina University graduates to be “leaders and difference-makers” at the 104th fall commencement ceremony in Minges Coliseum.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard conferred degrees for more than 2,000 students Dec. 14. Approximately 1,600 students were awarded baccalaureate degrees this semester, along with 591 graduate degrees. ECU also graduated the largest class of doctoral students, earning PhDs or EdDs, in the history of the Graduate School.

“You are not just prepared for a job, but for a career and a meaningful life,” said Mark Sprague, chair of the Faculty Senate, told those assembled.

Paul, an associate professor of management information systems in the ECU College of Business, was selected as commencement speaker after receiving the University of North Carolina system’s highest teaching honor in April.


Ravi Paul

Paul highlighted three characteristics that will serve Pirate graduates well in the future: excellence, caring and undaunted. Conveniently, he remarked, the first letters of those words spell E-C-U.

“Excellence is not perfection and it’s not winning at all costs,” he said, “But rather, doing all things to the best of our abilities.”

Paul continued by stating that leadership and service cannot exist without caring, and he encouraged students to persevere and never be discouraged.

“Even if you fail at first – and again, and again, and again, which is very likely – you will learn more when you get up and try again than if you gave up.

“Let me encourage you to pursue excellence and serve others with undaunted vision as you go out from ECU,” Paul concluded. “When you do, you not only make a difference in someone’s life but also inspire others to follow your example.”

Vidant Health CEO Dave McRae was presented an honorary doctor of science degree. Created in 1998 as University Health Systems, Vidant Health operates the primary teaching site for ECU’s Brody School of Medicine.

Ballard lauded the 35 years McRae has spent improving health care in eastern North Carolina.

“It’s wonderful to be part of your family now,” McRae said. “East Carolina has wrapped its arms around me.”

The seriousness of commencement was lightened by the celebration of excited undergraduates and, in particular, those receiving bachelor’s degrees in nursing. They added confetti cannons this year to their traditional arsenal of noisemakers and Silly String.

As they leave the campus behind, students say they will always carry their experiences at ECU with them.

“I’m really nervous but excited,” said Lisa Klopp, a Richmond, Va., native bound for a social media internship in New York City at the end of the month. “I’ll miss the football, and just everybody coming together. The school spirit. Purple and gold.”

But not everyone is bidding ECU farewell. Xiomary Violante, a family studies and child development major, will be back next semester for graduate school.

“I love everything about ECU,” she said. “My friends, the classes, just everything.”