Commencement is just around the corner. On May 7, High Point University seniors will cross the stage that serves as a bridge from their undergraduate educational journey to their next big steps in the world.
Nearly 10,000 students, family members and friends will fill the Roberts Hall lawn and celebrate the momentous occasion. And they’ll all find out – if they don’t already know – that HPU’s Commencement is unlike any other. Here are five things to look forward to at this year’s event:
1. An inspiring message from Condoleezza Rice
Every year, HPU brings inspiring national and international speakers to campus. Condoleezza Rice, 66th Secretary of State, will deliver this year’s Commencement address. ABC News will shine the national spotlight on HPU as they broadcast Dr. Rice’s speech live on their website.
Rice will also join HPU president Dr. Nido R. Qubein in a question and answer session on Friday, May 6 at 5:45 p.m. in the Hayworth Fine Arts Center. The Q&A will be filmed by UNC-TV to air at a later date.
Past Commencement speakers at HPU have included broadcast legend Tom Brokaw; former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell; Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak; Former First Lady Laura Bush; Chairman of the Board and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company Muhtar Kent; NASA Astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin; Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Queen Noor of Jordan; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and more.
2. Graduation of HPU’s first doctoral students
For the first time in the university’s history, HPU will graduate its first cohort of doctoral students. The School of Education will award degrees to 14 graduates earning a doctorate in educational leadership. These graduates are local educators, directors, counselors and principals representing school districts across North Carolina and out of state. Becoming a doctoral degree-granting institution is a major milestone in the university’s transformation and investment in academics throughout the last 10 years.
3. A senior send-off from Dr. Qubein
“Onward with Faithful Courage” – that’s what HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein will charge the seniors with the day before Commencement.
Each year, Dr. Qubein inspires graduates and their families to plant seeds of greatness throughout their journey in life. This special address for all candidates for graduation and their guests is one of the most anticipated traditions surrounding Commencement weekend.
“The world is anticipating your arrival. Do your part to make our world a better place,” said Qubein during last year’s event. “I have no doubt that you will rise to the occasion, and that you will become all that God intended you to become “Step out, and step up. Stand up and be counted. Do the best of your best every day.”
Immediately following the session, seniors will gather for a class photo and toast at the Alumni Avenue Amphitheatre.
4. A bald eagle soars over graduating seniors, families and friends
As is tradition during HPU’s Commencement ceremonies, the eagle offers a symbolic reminder to the seniors: The future lies ahead of them. Their parents gave them roots — roots that grounded them in values and ideals. HPU gave them wings — wings to soar into a future filled with success and framed with significance.
The tradition of the eagle signifies the ideals of free enterprise, independence and the ability to pursue new opportunities in America and abroad.
5. Baccalaureate service
Held inside a historic Methodist church, the Baccalaureate service is an occasion of thanksgiving and celebration that precedes Commencement. It’s the first event when seniors wear their caps and gowns and come together with family and fellow graduates.
For many seniors, the weeks leading up to Commencement can be hectic. The Baccalaureate ceremony offers a quieter, more intimate opportunity for the Class of 2016 to pause and reflect on their past four years at HPU.
The service will be held on Friday, May 6 at 4 p.m. at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church. Rev. Preston Davis, minister to the university, will provide the address, and the HPU Singers and Chapel Choir will provide music.