North Carolina Central University awarded graduate and professional degrees to 385 students on Friday, May 11, in ceremonies at McDougald–McLendon Gymnasium. In a rousing commencement address, attorney and talk-show host Warren Ballentine challenged the graduates to “stay humble and remember to dream.”
“You are the cream of the crop,” Ballentine told the graduates. “Many of you will go on to great things. But remember the journey is not yours alone. You stood on the shoulders of your family members and others who came before you. Always remember whence you came — and always humble yourself.”
Ballentine is the host of “The Warren Ballentine Show,” one of the top-rated syndicated talk shows in the nation. He encourages his listeners to harness injustice as a means of bringing about change and solving the problems of the black community.
He urged the graduates to look out for each other and to cultivate “geese sense.” Geese have the sense to fly in flocks, he noted. They are able to travel much faster with a single goose in front working hard, and yielding to another member of the flock when tired. “They have the sense to come together,” Ballentine said. “They have each other’s back.”
NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms joined Ballentine in congratulating the graduates and, as is his custom, he publicly recognized a few for their success in overcoming obstacles.
Nelms praised Belinda Behncke Biney, who graduated magna cum laude with a Master of Business Administration degree. Behncke Biney grew up in Germany, the daughter of parents who had emigrated from Ghana, and was usually the only black person in her classes. She came to the United States to attend Virginia Commonwealth University on a volleyball scholarship, but soon transferred to NCCU to experience life as a member of the majority at a historically black university. She received an undergraduate degree in political science and starred on the volleyball team. She had a year of eligibility remaining on her athletics scholarship, so she continued as a student-athlete during her first year of graduate school — and was named student-athlete of the year for 2010-11.
The chancellor also praised T. Greg Doucette, who received a Juris Doctor degree as a graduate of the NCCU School of Law. A onetime dropout from N.C. State University who was homeless for a time before returning to earn a degree at N.C. State, Doucette emerged as a student leader while a law student at NCCU. He served as president of both the UNC Association of Student Governments and the NCCU Student Bar Association