CofC Celebrates Class of 2024 at Friday Commencement

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Graduates from the College of Charleston School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs celebrated the conclusion of their academic journeys in the Cistern Yard on May 10, 2024.

Photos by Mike Ledford

Graduates from the College of Charleston’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs gathered under the stately oaks of the Cistern Yard on Friday, May 10, 2024, to celebrate the conclusion of their academic journeys at CofC and the start to a future that is theirs for the making.

In addition to the graduates celebrated on Friday, George Murrell Smith Jr., speaker of the House of Representatives, received an honorary degree. English professor Julia L. Eichelberger spoke at the ceremony.

“Some commencement speeches are mostly platitudes, like ‘practice gratitude,’ ‘learn from your setbacks,’ ‘believe in your dreams,’ ‘make the world a better place,'” Eichelberger said. “Those are actually good suggestions. Today I’d like to ground them in this place where we’re gathered.”

Eichelberger went on to acknowledge the Indigenous people who cared for the land and the enslaved builders and caretakers of the campus, naming people who helped build Randolph Hall and people who challenged the status quo while they lived here – including Mary Ann Berry, a Black woman who lived near Porter’s Lodge 200 years ago and taught enslaved people to read, even though it was illegal to do so.

“Each of you can use your education to help others, as she did,” Eichelberger told the graduates. “This may produce benefits far greater than you’d imagined.”

Eichelberger also told graduates about a young Black man named A. O. Jones, who lived at 14 Green Way, now home to the College’s Multicultural Student Programs and Services, during Reconstruction.

“Jones used his education for more than just a nice house for his family,” Eichelberger said. “He also worked for a better world. He and his colleagues believed democracy was possible, no matter how farfetched that seemed at the time. His story reminds us that democracy can easily be undone, even forgotten. To survive, it must be perpetually renewed, remade. Please, remember that.”

Eichelberger concluded by reminding graduates that, with education comes responsibility.

“Everyone on this stage, every college graduate, has tremendous privilege. What should we do with it? Will we use our learning, our intellectual wealth, for ourselves and our families only? Or will we dedicate some of our wealth and power to others?” she said. “Each of you has the power to live sustainably. To endure injustice and care for those who are similarly burdened. To use your learning to serve others, and to resist injustice. To pursue a dream of fairness, a society that reconstructs itself into something better. To make a space of belonging, where everyone is respected, where art and beauty matter, where truth matters. You can do this, and we really do need you to. So I thank you in advance.”

The College held two commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11, 2024: one at 10 a.m. for the School of Business, the School of Education and the School of Health Sciences; and another at 4 p.m. for the School of the Arts; School of Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering; and the Graduate School.

Everything you need to know about commencement – schedules, maps, reminders and more – is now at your fingertips on your iPhone/Android for free on the College of Charleston Events appDownload the app here or search for CofC Events in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

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