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Clyburn shares signs of a good education with 96 Voorhees University graduates

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.

Clyburn at 2022 VU Commencement 1
Congressman James E. Clyburn is speaking at Voorhees University Commencement Ceremony, May 7, 2022.
Photo Credit: Mauricio Richardson

Clyburn at 2022 VU Commencement 3
Congressman James E. Clyburn is presented a Presidential Citation by President Ronnie Hopkins during the Voorhees University Commencement Ceremony, May 7, 2022. Pictured with Clyburn and Hopkins are Provost Damara Hightower Mitchell and Voorhees University Board of Trustees Chairman David Miller.
Photo Credit: Mauricio Richardson

2022 VU Commencement SGA president degree
Business Administration graduate Joshua Gayle (fourth from left) poses with School of Business and Entrepreneurship Dean Katherine Whitaker, Congressman James E. Clyburn, President Ronnie Hopkins, and Voorhees University Board of Trustees Chairman David Miller during the Voorhees University Commencement Ceremony, May 7, 2022.
Photo Credit: Mauricio Richardson

About Voorhees University

Voorhees University, founded by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright in 1897, is a private, coeducational institution affiliated with the Episcopal Church and the United Negro College Fund. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Its mission is to produce highly qualified graduates who coalesce intellect and faith in pursuit of life-long learning, healthy living, the betterment of society, and an abiding faith in God. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Voorhees as a #1 best value, #3 in social mobility and #33 among regional colleges in the south in 2022-2023; and #26 among Historically Black Colleges and Universities, nationally. Additional information about Voorhees University can be found at


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