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Cheers rang out in the Dean E. Smith Center Sunday (Dec. 19) as 2,330 students processed for their graduation from Carolina.

Friends and families with cameras and bouquets had anticipated the mid-winter Commencement ceremony with pride, including the Rev. Quinton Jordan and Judy Jordan of Hertford, N.C.

They came to see their daughter, LaReina Jordan, earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s a milestone in her life,” said Quinton Jordan. “It’s a chance for her to go forward in the future.”

dec_comm_sign Lane Erickson of Concord, N.C., graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the Gillings School of Global Public Health, confessed to a mixture of emotions.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” she said. “I’m sad about ending my days here at Carolina, but I’m looking forward to the next stage in my life.”

Students marched in to “Procession of the Nobles” by Nikolay Andreyevich, played by the 50-member UNC Ceremonial Band before a stage festooned with ferns and Christmas poinsettias.

“This is your day, and all of us join you in this celebration of your academic achievement,” Chancellor Holden Thorp told the graduates.

dec_comm_radio Speaker Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, Morehead Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and department chair, reminded the graduates that they always will be surrounded by invisible, intangible, odorless, and often inaudible, ideas – ideas about who they are, what they can accomplish, what is a problem, and what might be a solution.

“Put yourself in the position to decide which of the ideas you are surrounded by are worth embracing and developing and which are worth changing, and then act accordingly,” he urged. “Only then are you truly autonomous.”

dec_comm_fistSenior class president Liz Deane cued the students to switch their cap tassels from right to left, signifying their graduation.

Thorp expressed faith in the new graduates: “During your world-changing adventures, remember that you represent Carolina and its values: a love of knowledge, a dedication to freedom and a passion for helping others.

“The University’s motto is light and liberty. When you leave Chapel Hill, you carry that light with you, and I know it will help you transform the future. We can’t wait to watch.”