4,565 and Counting

UNC Charlotte conferred degrees upon 4,565 candidates in three ceremonies earlier this month, and recognized the work of retired superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Ann Clark, and Ophelia Garmon-Brown, chief community wellness and health equity executive at Novant Health and co-chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force. They both received the honorary degree Doctor of Public Service.

A highlight of Saturday morning’s exercise was mechanical engineering student Taylor Marceau’s journey with service dog Czar.


Taylor Marceau and Czar

In fall 2017, Marceau was largely wheelchair reliant due to severe joint, muscle and nerve pain. At that time, her connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, worsened and interrupted her studies. 

At Commencement, she walked across the stage to accept a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and she is on track to complete a second bachelor’s degree in computer science in December 2018. (pictured: Taylor and service dog Czar)

Another special moment occurred when father and daughter Harry (Butch) and Marisa McLaughlin were awarded bachelor’s degrees in psychology. Butch McLaughlin, who previously earned a two-year degree in criminal justice, realized the completion of a bachelor’s degree after nearly 30 years of marriage, children and full-time work.


Marisa and Butch McLaughlin

“Marisa had been accepted to UNC Charlotte with the plan to pursue a degree in exercise science and potentially physical therapy,” said McLaughlin. “After visiting the campus and attending orientation, I began to again have thoughts of finishing my degree. We had many family discussions about selecting a path and staying the course, but adjusting and adapting as the need arose. I felt the pull to be a leader by example.”

Marisa McLaughlin changed majors, and she and her father opted for psychology degrees with a concentration in industrial/organizational psychology.
(pictured: Butch and Marisa McLaughlin)

Also, new for Commencement 2018, doctoral students were hooded in a separate ceremony on Thursday, May 10. In addition, the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association held a series of special events on Thursday.

The first-ever Legacy Draping Ceremony was conducted with 16 students who had at least one parent, stepparent or grandparent who graduated from UNC Charlotte. According to Alumni Association officials, future graduating legacies will have an opportunity to attend this new tradition each semester prior to Commencement.Legacy Draping and the Donning of the Kente

The Alumni Affairs Office, the Black Alumni Chapter and the Multicultural Resource Center cosponsored a “Donning of the Kente” event. James Mitchell, a member of the Charlotte City Council, was the featured speaker. Seventy-five students participated; they received handmade Kente clothes that represented their African heritage and achievements.

Another annual tradition is the Ring Ceremony; 100 students received their class rings at the Popp Martin Student Union. Afterward, they were encouraged to dip their ring into Norm’s miner pan to strengthen their ties to UNC Charlotte and its founding as a pioneering institution of opportunity.

Congratulations, graduates!!