Denmark, S.C. – Ninety-six students became the first graduates of Voorhees University Saturday, May 7, during in-person commencement exercises on campus where South Carolina Congressman James E. Clyburn encouraged graduates to use good manners, practice the golden rule and never give up. Approximately 1,000 persons attended the ceremony.
Clyburn told graduates always to remember to say thank you and pardon me as a show of good manners. He also told them to respect the differences of others.
“Learn to respect the backgrounds and experiences of all people that you come in contact with because those backgrounds and experiences will make them different; will make them see the world differently,” he said. It doesn’t mean that they are wrong or you are wrong. It means simply that you are different. When we learn to respect our differences, we can grow together as one people.”
The final thought he left with the graduate was never give up. “You must understand that when you attempt to do things, sometimes you will get it right the first time,” he said. “More often than not, it will take more than the first time to get it right. Keep trying until you get it right.
Clyburn mentioned that he ran for public office three times without winning. However, today, he is the third-ranking Democrat in the US House of Representatives and the majority whip. Serving in Congress since 1993, he represents the sixth congressional district of South Carolina.
Voorhees University President Ronnie Hopkins presented Clyburn with a Presidential Citation during commencement. He also presented a Presidential Service Recognition Citation posthumously to Dr. Emily England Clyburn, the Congressman’s late wife.
Hopkins conferred the Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa, degree to the Reverend Dr. Solomon Jackson, Jr. He conferred the Doctorate of Laws, honoris causa, degree to South Carolina State Senator John L. Scott.
Three students were recognized as honors graduates. Donald Lauer, IV, was the first academic honors graduate with a 3.97 GPA. The second academic honors graduate with a 3.81 GPA was Henriadam Brower. The third academic honor graduate with a 3.76 GPA was Keyanna Odom.
The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. presented a $5,000 check to the university to support student scholarships.
On May 6, the institution held its baccalaureate service. Reverend Canon Calhoun Walpole of the Episcopal Church challenged graduates to remember to put together again, during the service. She reminded them that there are those who died for people’s rights to an education.
“You are worthy, valuable, and worth someone giving their life for you,” she said. “Your great work is to become the person God has planned for you to become.”
The Voorhees University Class of 1972 was acknowledged for its 50th class reunion, during the baccalaureate service and commencement.
High-resolution images of the commencement ceremony are available at the following URLs.