Spring 2024 graduates celebrate accomplishments

Nearly 5,000 Pirate graduates came together to celebrate the completion of their unique journeys to an East Carolina University degree during spring commencement on a sun-splashed Friday morning in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

ECU graduates celebrate during the spring 2024 ceremony in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Friday. (ECU photo by Steven Mantilla)

ECU’s Class of 2024 totaled approximately 4,950 graduates, including students completing their degrees this summer. Of the graduates, 795 are first-generation college graduates.

“You have navigated a global pandemic with grace, grit and determination,” said ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers. “You’ve experienced new challenges and new adventures through all walks of life. You have persevered at every step. And you graduate at a moment in time when you are desperately needed, when your skills, your talents, your knowledge and your leadership are required in order for this world to thrive.”

Rogers introduced Javier Limon, Student Government Association president; Anne Ticknor, chair of the faculty; Jason Poole, chairman of the ECU Board of Trustees; and Jimmy Clark, representing the UNC Board of Governors, who each congratulated the Class of 2024. Clark presented ECU faculty member Dr. Anne Spuches with the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

ECU alumni chair Robert Cherry recognized this year’s recipients of the Robert H. Wright Leadership Award — Luke Boldt, Rachana Charla, Anjalee Hou, Limon and Tete Narh-Mensah.

Ronnie Barnes gave the keynote address and received the ECU honorary degree of Doctor of Letters. A 1975 graduate of ECU’s College of Health and Human Performance, he was the first African American graduate of the sports medicine program at the university. Barnes is senior vice president of medical services and head athletic trainer for the New York Giants and a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame.

In his commencement address, Barnes cited some of his professional experiences as well as experiences the graduates would have faced during their youth as he encouraged them to be resilient and find the courage to persevere.

Commencement speaker Ronnie Barnes, an ECU alumus, addresses the graduates. (ECU photo by Steven Mantilla)

“If there is one lesson I have learned throughout my own journey, it’s this: Resilience is not merely the ability to endure hardships, but the power to transform them into opportunities for growth,” said Barnes. “As you embark on this next chapter of your life, I urge you to embrace the challenges that lie ahead with the same resilience and determination that has brought you to this moment. Setbacks are not failures but opportunities for growth, and the path to success is rarely straight. Embrace the challenges, cherish the moments and never forget the strength that lies within you.”

He concluded his remarks by suggesting graduates honor the university motto, Servire, and serve with empathy, compassion and kindness.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Limon and Brandon Frye, vice chancellor for student affairs, oversaw the traditional turning of the tassels, and ECU Master of Arts graduate Ashley Prince led the singing of ECU’s alma mater.

Individual college recognition ceremonies are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.



East Carolina University News Services

Howard House, 1001 E. Fifth Street

Greenville, NC 27858


Phone: 252-328-6481