Brand New Diplomas

Commencement speakers emphasize adaptability, collaboration
August 1, 2011
 

Picture this: Chase Olivieri '11 captured more than 1,000 commencement photos with time-lapse GoPro camera mounted on his mortarboard..
Megan Morrr

More than 4,500 undergraduate, graduate, and professional-school students marched in to Wallace Wade Stadium on Sunday, May 15, for commencement ceremonies and walked out as the university's newest alumni. Also receiving diplomas (on July 4) were the first twenty-three students to earn medical degrees from the Duke-NUS medical school in Singapore, which was established in 2005.

Commencement speaker John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, told students, "Do not be afraid to fail. Have the courage to take risks." He cited education, the Internet, and social media as the driving forces in today's world, and urged graduates to seek ways to embrace the fast-paced nature of the path ahead. "The only constant [in life] is change," Chambers said. "It's your ability with education and preparation to handle those changes that makes the difference."

Chambers, who attended Duke's Pratt School of Engineering from 1967 to 1968, presented the keynote address and received an honorary degree. Other honorary degree recipients were Rita Dove, former U.S. poet laureate and University of Virginia English professor; James B. Hunt, former four-term North Carolina governor; Alan C. Page, Hall of Fame football player, philanthropist, and Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice; Lisa Randall, theoretical physicist and Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of science at Harvard University; Eric K. Shinseki A.M. '76, Secretary of Veterans Affairs; and Tan Chorch Chuan, president of the National University of Singapore.

In addition to Chambers' remarks, Duke Student Government president and student speaker Mike LeFevre '11 shared his thoughts about the cohesion of the graduating class and how such collaboration will serve them well in life beyond Duke.

The ceremony was one highlight of a weekend of commencement events across the campus. Speakers at other ceremonies ranged from W. Stacy Rhodes A.M. '81, chief of staff for the Peace Corps, who spoke to graduate students at the Sanford School of Public Policy, to Mike Lamach M.B.A. '01, CEO of Ingersoll Rand, who spoke at the Fuqua School of Business.