“Today is OUR day!”

Those were the words that rang out across the Greensboro Coliseum as nearly 2,500 Spartans repeated student speaker Christopher McCoy’s mantra.

“Today is MY day! Today is YOUR day! Today is OUR day!”

And that it was.

Approximately 2,466 students turned their tassels this morning at UNCG’s May Commencement, a joyous celebration marked by lots of cheers, smiles and laughter. The university awarded roughly 1,788 bachelor’s degrees, 587 master’s degrees, 74 doctoral degrees and 17 specialist in education degrees. Eighty-four of those degrees were awarded to international students – the largest group of graduating international students in UNCG’s history. The 84 international students represent 33 countries.

The university also presented honorary degrees to William F. “Bill” Black and Dr. Harold A. Schiffman. Dr. Gregory Grieve, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, was presented with the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

In his first May Commencement, Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. opened the ceremony with a loud, resounding “It’s a great day to be a Spartan!” He continued by inspiring students to seize opportunities, pursue excellence and embody the core values of UNCG.

“This isn’t the end, you know. This is really just the beginning,” Gilliam said. “UNCG will be your alma mater, and you will be part of a legacy that has been about pushing boundaries.”

McCoy had a similar message for his fellow graduates and encouraged the Class of 2016 to follow their dreams and their passions in a world that offers “opportunities beyond our wildest dreams.”

“I hope that as we continue through life, we write a story worth reading,” McCoy said. “Follow your passions, stick with your decisions and cherish the bonds that we have formed and will form. Believe in something bigger than yourself, and trust in your process.”

Commencement speaker Denise Turner Roth, the 21st Senate-confirmed administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the former city manager of Greensboro, shared her inspiring personal story of overcoming adversity. Having grown up in a low-income neighborhood in Washington, D.C., it was the support of her family and friends, hard work and discipline, and a desire to make a difference that propelled her to where she is today.

Roth encouraged the new graduates to believe in themselves and challenge themselves as they embark on their new journeys.

“It does not matter what others think about us. What stands out most in our life’s journey is what we think about ourselves – how we assess and develop and apply our talents,” Roth said. “My message is really very straightforward. Believe in yourself.”



Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Relations
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Relations