N.C. A&T Marks Milestone for 2022 Fall Graduates in Two Commencement Ceremonies

By Jackie Torok / 12/10/2022 Students

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Dec. 10, 2022) – The students who helped bring North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University back to in-person life after the worst of the global COVID-19 pandemic had passed.

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The students who were here when the university made public its goal to move to R1 status, the highest classification for a research university.

These 1,100 students, including nearly 300 graduate students, are members of N.C. A&T’s fall Class of 2022, who participated in commencement ceremonies Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10, in the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.

“You’ve shown tremendous commitment and resilience over the past couple of years,” said Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. “This is a day to reflect on what you and your fellow graduates have achieved.”

Distinguished A&T alumna Jini Davis Thornton, CPA, who has more than 26 years of experience in the accounting profession and entertainment industry, served as keynote speaker for Saturday’s baccalaureate student ceremony.

Thornton received her B.S. in accounting from A&T and M.S. in taxation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the founder and CEO of both Envision Business Management Group, a multi-million-dollar boutique firm that provides accounting, tax, insurance, retirement, tour accounting, tour logistics and other financial-related services, and Thank Me Later Inc., an online financial education platform specifically focused on empowering professional Black women with knowledge about money.

“I stand before you as a proud December A&T graduate. And we know December graduations may not always get the same hype that May graduations receive,” Thornton said. “But know this: your contribution is no less significant. I assure you that this will be a December to remember.”

Thornton described the challenges she faced in her educational and professional journeys, such as starting a family – which includes her son, Trevor, a 2013 A&T graduate – and her foray into the entertainment industry while serving as a financial expert.

“Class of 2022, decide on this December morning that when life knocks you down, you too, will get up and flip your setbacks into your superpowers,” she said. “Being flexible helped me discover my true flex.”

Sherine O. Obare, Ph.D., dean of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN), served as keynote speaker for the graduates of the university’s 41 master’s and doctoral programs Friday afternoon. Among those graduates was Lashaundra J. Lucas, who became the university’s first to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in social work.

Obare has earned many awards and accomplishments including the National Science Foundation CAREER award, the Mary McLeod Bethune Award for Science and Technology, and the American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellowship of the National Science Foundation. Triad Business Journal named her among its 2022 Triad Power Players and included her in its list of Outstanding Women in Business for 2020. Under her leadership, JSSN and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development (DEVCOM) Soldier Center announced last month a new partnership, the Innovative Collaborative Laboratory for Nanotechnologies to Empower Future Soldier (ICONS), which will result in the development of lighter, faster, safer and stronger nanoscale materials to improve soldier protection.

“North Carolina A&T is on a path of growth and development that has really seen this institution come into its own in recent years as a doctoral research university,” said Obare. “During your time as an A&T student, you have been part of that growth and development, which has created a new public appreciation of our university’s mission, its impact and its goals for the future.”

“When we look back years from now on the turning point that opened a whole new realm of possibility and achievement for our university, I believe we will always regard 2022 as an inflection point, a moment in which all of a sudden, things were stunningly, amazingly different, and an incredible new future arose before us,” she said.

Obare noted that it is the people – especially students – who are the lifeblood of A&T.

“Now you prepare to go out into the world and have an even greater impact on our university,” she said. “Because the incredible careers you are about to begin and the outstanding graduate programs where you will continue your studies will not only be rewarding, they will shine a brilliant reflection upon our university as an example of what can be accomplished with a degree from North Carolina A&T.”

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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