Tuskegee University holds summer commencement service


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (August 2, 2013) — Commencement exercises were held today for the summer Class of 2013 in the University Chapel. Graduates received degrees today in the third summer commencement held since Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon reinstated the summer ceremony. 

Wayne J. Riley

Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon
In introductory remarks, Rochon spoke about the dire health statistics for black Americans and ever-widening gaps in disparities related to treatment, preventative care and medical education. He said the university has always been deeply invested in improving the lives and health of black people in this nation and abroad. He also spoke about the university’s various health care initiatives and research centers such as the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care and the Health Disparities Institute for Research and Education.

“With our unwavering commitment to education and research, Tuskegee University is working to improve the overall condition of minorities and the underserved,” Rochon said. 

Wayne J. Riley, the former president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College and current professor of internal medicine at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine, served as the keynote speaker for the event. He said the graduates were the university’s gift to the world and he urged the graduates to enjoy their ceremony and to relish the moment with their family and loved ones.

“Today is the day when you get your reward of a degree from Tuskegee University,” Riley said. “You have to appreciate the bouquets of life so you understand how important they are to your friends and family.” 

Riley also encouraged the graduates to maintain pride and passion for their work in their professional careers. But, he also warned them to be humble in their life.
“You are the created and not the creator. You are in the universe, but not the center of the universe,” he said. 

Riley also spoke to the graduates about developing foresight and not making regret a part of their lives after they leave the university. 

“Life is too short, too precious, too challenging to fall victim to ‘I wish, I could have, I should have-itis’,” he said. “As a physician, this is a malady that I see all the time. There’s no medicine to treat it. You and only you have the power to prevent it."

After the keynote address, Rochon conferred upon Riley an honorary Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa. Rochon was assisted by Luther S. Williams, provost and executive vice president.

Graduate waves to loved ones in audience.

Master's degree recipients celebrate during ceremony.

© 2013 Tuskegee University

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