UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Bruce Kirchoff: ‘Congratulations graduates!’

Photo of Dr. Bruce Kirchoff during Dec. 11, 2014 commencementDr. Bruce Kirchoff (Biology) had a simple message for UNCG’s 1,642 winter graduates: Don’t underestimate the power of ‘Yes.’

“When life is difficult, the only rational, the only possible answer is ‘Yes,'” Kirchoff told them. He smiled and threw his hands in the air throughout the speech, happy to acknowledge the screams and cheers of graduates’ families and friends.

Kirchoff, who received the UNC Board of Governors’ Teaching Excellence Award in May, gave the winter commencement address Thursday in the Greensboro Coliseum. His speech focused on obstacles and hardships – and graduates who persevered.

“I know that each of you has a story to tell about the adversity you have overcome in order to be here today. I wish we had time for you to tell your stories. In lieu of that, let me tell you a few of them that I know,” Kirchoff said.

He spoke of “Alexander,” who worked two jobs totaling almost 40 hours a week, but got all A’s or B’s in his classes. Then there is “Reem,” who worked on the night-to-dawn shift through the six-plus years of her undergraduate and graduate study at UNCG. “Alea” was homeless before she enrolled at UNCG. And lastly there is “Daniel,” whose family immigrated to the U.S. when he was in high school and was the first in his family to attend college.

Many in the graduating class are first-generation college students, Kirchoff said.

The university awarded 1,232 undergraduate degrees, 331 master’s degrees, 8 Specialist in Education degrees and 71 doctoral degrees during the ceremony. Of that total, 52 degrees went to international students.

Four of the first UNCG Spartans of Promise — Kevin Wu, Jessica Straehle, Dustin Gamradt and Melvin L. Clark Jr. – were among the graduates. The new Spartans of Promise award recognizes graduating seniors for excellence in both academics and service; it is given each year to no more than ten graduating seniors.

Also graduating were 11 merit scholars, five Phi Beta Kappas and four UNCG Guarantee Scholars. UNCG Guarantee enables deserving students with limited finances to graduate debt-free.

By Michelle Hines
Photo by Carlos Morales

Full story – and a link to the full text of the commencement address – is at UNCG Now.