Higher Ed, North Carolina, Students

UNC-Chapel Hill commencement

May 16, 2017

Another Carolina-blue day

My husband took this photo outside Kenan Stadium on our way to Sunday’s Commencement ceremony.

I always take a few minutes to sit and watch people arrive for commencement, anticipating what we’re about to experience.

How perfect is it when graduation day is clear and Carolina-blue-skied – and one looks out on a veritable sea of blue gowns designed by our own Alexander Julian? I love the exuberance of our students! It is an incredibly upbeat, joyous day, and who would not love that? These new graduates loved everything about the event!

I’m part of the platform party, and it seems to take forever to line us up to walk out through the maze of blue-robed students and up to the platform. It’s exhilarating to hit the sun-filled stadium after standing for a while in a dark tunnel.

There were a lot of high-fives as the platform party processed into the stadium.

Here’s a view from the platform, taken by me. I love the image of the Bell Tower and the flag in the background and faculty members in front, with students behind them.

‘Nothing could be finer’ than the throngs of excited, cheering and exuberant graduating students!

UNC–Chapel Hill commencement speaker Brooke Baldwin has grit

Brooke Baldwin was no “ho hum, when will it be done” commencement speaker. She dazzled. She was authentic. She is a person many might like to be, and yet she spoke openly of her mistakes. She said that a couple of years ago, she made a big assumption on air which she didn’t verify. She was wrong. It could have been all over, but it wasn’t. Her closest, deepest friends enveloped her and supported her. CNN stuck by her. She apologized and moved on.


CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin (’01) gave UNC-Chapel Hill’s commencement address.

In her commencement address, Baldwin reflected on her journalism career, which has included working for CNN for nearly a decade. She has had a “front row seat to the world’s biggest stories.”

Her career path began two decades ago at Carolina.

“I loved my time here at Carolina,” she said. “This is where my commitment to journalism was ignited. People believed in me. That’s the force that takes you beyond what you think you can do to what you can do.”

As graduates leave Chapel Hill and begin their own paths, Baldwin urged them to follow their instincts to reach their goals.

“People are full of great advice,” she said. “Professors, parents and friends mean well, but in the end, the person driving this thing called life is you. Listen to you. Spend time being alone. Learn your worth. Dream. And never forget where you came from.”

I really like the “listen to you” advice, because it is so important to living an authentic life of value, joy and meaning. Thank you, Brooke!

We had a great view of the (backs of the) Clef Hangers! It’s always moving to hear them sing.

Photos not taken by my husband or me are by Jon Gardiner and Melanie Busbee, courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill.

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The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.