Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Combs presented the commencement address at Howard University to more than 2,600 students on Saturday, May 10. During the ceremony, Howard conferred 105 doctoral degrees, the largest Ph.D. class in the University’s history. Combs gave an impassioned speech and led an energetic crowd in the famous Howard spirit chant, “HU, You Know.” He encouraged the graduates to be fearless, be decisive and fully embrace their inner power.
“Do you know how powerful you are?” Combs asked. “When you leave here today, go forth with the knowledge that you have the power to change the world. Embrace your power and turn your dreams into reality.”
Combs shared insights from both his time at Howard and his own personal experiences, stressing the support of his mother, the importance of believing in yourself and not being afraid to fail. He also credited his late father for inspiring his business acumen.
“I made a conscious effort to follow the entrepreneurial spirit of my father, the legal way,” said Combs. “I want you to take the craziest dream in your head – the dream that you’re too embarrassed to tell anyone else about, and I want you to go after it.”
Combs received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities in recognition of his achievements as an entrepreneur and champion of education. He is chairman, chief executive officer and founder of Combs Enterprises, one of the world’s preeminent group of companies and brands.
Howard also granted honorary doctorate degrees to Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s lead political anchor; Clive Callender, M.D., Professor of Surgery at the Howard University College of Medicine and the first physician to perform a transplant at Howard University Hospital; Benny Golson, internationally renowned jazz legend; and Indra K. Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo.
Howard University Interim President Wayne A.I. Frederick pointed to the year’s record-breaking number of graduates from Howard Ph.D. programs as reason for special pride and optimism. He charged the graduates to frame their degrees with love, mentorship, service, compassion and philanthropy.
“You earn your degree not just to adorn your wall, but to change the world around you,” Frederick said. He asked graduates to, “Consider what you knew when you entered Howard’s gates and consider what you now know, what you now can do, and what you now are in a position to become in the next 20 or 30 years. That transformation is what this University is about.”
During the ceremony, Howard bestowed more than 950 graduate, professional and certificate degrees, 1,679 undergraduate degrees, and 105 PhDs. Howard University produces more on campus doctoral degrees among African Americans and people of color than any institution in the country.
Howard also welcomed the return of John Pinkard, a 1935 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts who later earned a Master of Science degree in 1938 from Howard. In addition, graduates of the Class of 1939 – Hortense K. McClinton and Lydia Mussenden – celebrated their 75th anniversary of graduation from Howard.
Graduates come from 40 states, as well as the District of Columbia. The Class of 2014 also represents 33 countries on five continents. Members of the class have received a number of prestigious scholarships and fellowships, including the Luard-Morse Fellowship, and the Fulbright, Rangel, Woodrow Wilson and National Science Foundation fellowships.
Source: Howard University Office of University Communications
Perhaps I attended the wrong HU…. If you were me, what would you do?
I’m entirely the artist, tired and wearied, yet observant, hopeful, eager to alter the world for a lighter version. My novels are filled with poetry, heart, art, and tales of darkness, depth, homelessness, depression, intimate partner violence, all based upon my interpretations of real events.
I have always had the gift of being a storyteller, and, I have funneled that gift into five manuscripts which I have a desire to publish (as the sixth is a compilation of my poetry), so that the world may have another message, another tale that might inspire, change, and advance this world. I also want to work to end homelessness on a world scale. I just have to find the right way in which to do it.
I have six books that I’m seeking representation and publishing for! I hope to soon follow in the steps of Khaled Hosseini, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and Richard Wright for the following reason.
I’d say that my books have the realism of Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns), the shock and boldness and accuracy of Richard Wright (Black Boy, Native Son), the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou and Robert Frost, the bildungsroman of J.D. Salinger, and the perilous romance of Ian McEwan (Atonement). But, too, the passion of myself, the words of a 21st century youth, on the brink of adulthood with the ambition and hopefulness everyone first holds. I hope that you might be able to help me.
In the words of my architecture professor, my desire to be published is like “Horton Hears A Who… you know, you have to believe in it… at some point (praise the Lord ^.^) you’re going to have to hear a Who… at some point, you’re going to have to believe in what you’re doing” and, I believe in this. Thank you for seeking to connect!
. I am 22, right now, and, I have a passion: writing. I have six books in my belt but no one who will actually do anything about helping me in my struggle to have those words published outside of giving me advice to find a literary agent; a seeming impossibility when no one wants to take a risk on the 22 year old newcomer that has not a name. Everyone says be young, follow your passion, yet, when I say that I want to follow my passion, no one wants to help me unlock the door, though they see that my arms are full. What am I to do? Self-confidence and patience won’t help me with loan-repayment. Must I settle in a ten-year job I hate just to pay the bills when I could just do what I love, which is continue writing, if only I could share it with someone other than my jump drive device?
For we who are 22 could use a bit more help and less advice in our lives. I have four years of University and a degree worth of advice from the world’s best scholars and writers, etc. What I need, being currently 22 with six books that no one wants to help publish, is not more words, not more encouragement or people telling me to stick with it, that I can publish the books if I just hold out, or to work a job outside of my interest, just to at least start paying back loans that I cannot afford. What we, the current generation of 22-year-olds, need is not our parents and the prior generations telling us to live and be young, or simply telling us what to do or to believe and hold out. What we need is a bit more than faith in our abilities or that everything will turn out right. Surely, we have that. What we need is someone who has walked the path we are currently treading upon to give us a hand up, not a hand out. Help us to achieve our goals, don’t simply tell us that we c