ECU celebrates over 2,000 graduates at fall commencement ceremony

East Carolina University celebrated its fall Class of 2023 Friday morning during a ceremony in Minges Coliseum.

The class totaled 2,090 graduates earning 1,415 undergraduate degrees, 450 master’s degrees, 38 certificates and 45 doctoral degrees. The graduates represented 39 states and 96 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers congratulated the new graduates along with friends and family who cheered from the coliseum’s upper level.

“You’ve stayed strong and committed throughout your unique academic journey and you’re now crossing the finish line at a moment when this world needs you most,” said Rogers. “In many ways, today simply marks a new beginning on your Pirate journey into the future. You all arrived here from different places and with different backgrounds and ambitions, but you all leave this place as Pirates.”

Rogers introduced keynote speaker Kelly King, a two-time ECU alumnus and the retired chairman and CEO of Truist. King asked the graduates to answer the questions: “Why are you here?” and “How do you focus on living your life every day?”

“Don’t let anybody tell you your life does not matter,” he said. “You may not be 100% clear of what your purpose is today but it is there. It is important. It is powerful. It is significant. If you learn and get focused on your purpose and pursue it, you will find the alignment of purpose, success and happiness will cause you to feel really good and enriched about your life.”

King offered four steps to help answer his second question: Choose to be happy; be clear about your purpose in life; have a growth mindset; and help others.

“The fourth step may be the most important,” he said. “People need to know that someone really cares about them, their success and their happiness. It’s the little things we do in life that make the difference in terms of how we impact other people.”

Also addressing the graduates were Javier Limon, Student Government Association president; Dr. Anne Ticknor, faculty chair; Jason Poole, chairman of the ECU Board of Trustees; and Harry Brown, representing the UNC Board of Governors.

Limon encouraged the graduates to remember the obstacles that they have overcome while at ECU during the COVID-19 pandemic and to have the same tenacity when difficulties arise in the future.

“In a world that threw us a curveball, you swung back with determination and grit,” said Limon. “As we step into the next chapter of our lives, let’s carry with us the lessons learned from these challenges. Each hurdle has made us stronger, more adaptable and ready to take on whatever comes our way.”

Ticknor asked the graduates to remember the individuals who helped them during their ECU journey and to maintain the relationships they have built so far. “Reach out to them as you continue to navigate your journey, and trust in the relationships you built as well as the knowledge you gained.”

Individual college recognition ceremonies took place across campus on Friday.


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