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By: AFRO staff, special to NNPA

Graduation season is upon us! On May 5, Lincoln University, the first degree-granting historically Black college or university (HBCU), proudly held its 165th Commencement Ceremony. Over 400 undergraduate and graduate students were honored, marking the culmination of their academic journey and the beginning of a new chapter in their lives.

The ceremony, held on Lincoln’s main campus, was a momentous occasion filled with joy, pride and celebration. Distinguished speakers for the event included Bryan Stevenson, the esteemed founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who delivered the keynote address. Stevenson, known for his tireless advocacy for social justice, resonated deeply with Lincoln’s commitment to critical thought and equity.

Lincoln University President Brenda A. Allen, Ph.D., expressed her admiration for the esteemed speakers.

“Bryan Stevenson addressing our graduates at Lincoln University’s 2024 Commencement Ceremony stands as a testament to the university’s dedication to fostering critical thought and pursuing social justice,” said Allen.

The ceremony also bestowed honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees upon four remarkable individuals: Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Cherelle Parker, of the class of 1994, Stevie Wonder and Bryan Stevenson himself. Each honoree has made indelible contributions to society, embodying the excellence and leadership that Lincoln University champions.

The commencement was not only a celebration of academic achievement but also a testament to the resilience and determination of its graduates.

Among them was AFRO Arts and Culture writer, Ericka Alston Buck, who received her degree in human services. Buck’s journey to graduation was particularly inspiring, having navigated the challenges of adult life, parenthood and the COVID-19 pandemic– all while pursuing her education. Her story is a testament to the transformative power of perseverance and dedication.

“Lincoln University understands the needs of adult students. Being able to graduate while working full time and being a parent made this 20-year journey possible for me,” said Buck. “Receiving my degree on the same day that Stevie Wonder received his honorary doctorate made the moment all the more special. He is an iconic figure in the music industry and a champion for social causes.”

“He epitomizes the spirit of excellence and service that Lincoln University instills in its graduates,” Buck continued. “His presence added an extra layer of significance to an already momentous occasion.”