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Marine commander delivers ECU commencement address

(May 5, 2007)   —   Col. Adele E. Hodges told the graduates of East Carolina University May 5 that when it comes to service and opportunity, size does matter.

“I’m not talking physical size, but the size of your conviction, the size of your compassion, the size of your humanity and the size of your commitment,” she said. “It will serve each of you in the long run.”

Hodges, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, delivered the keynote address to 982 graduates and an estimated 5,000 of their family and friends at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Approximately 3,900 degrees were conferred this spring.

Hodges, who took command of the Marine base in 2005, told the graduates she had once aspired to become a teacher, and that the future they plan for may not be the one they eventually realize.

“The collective experience spent here is all about self-realization and discovering what you are truly capable of – and hopefully you’ve found that your horizons are limitless,” Hodges said. “Your commitment to your local communities will be a lasting legacy that will be remembered for years to come.”

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard observed that Hodges’ career in the Marines is an example of the two key elements that every graduate faces: service and opportunity.

“ECU’s motto is ‘to serve,’ and no group embodies the notion of service more than our military forces,” Ballard said. “We are pleased to have a person with us today who lives service. As future leaders, today’s graduates must be prepared, accepting and willing to see opportunities.”

Estelle “Bunny” Saunders, representing the UNC Board of Governors, urged every graduate to realize that opportunity for service by becoming advocates for change in their own communities.

“You must ask that impertinent question that has the potential to change the future of eastern North Carolina,” Saunders said. “Hopefully all of you will demand to know, Why not entrepreneurial and employment opportunities in eastern North Carolina? Why not affordable housing? Why not broadband in rural areas? Why not prosperity in your eastern North Carolina community? Why not?”

ECU graduate Brandy C. Sherrer, who delivered the student address, said that the Pirate Nation prides itself on four ideal attributes: service, leadership, ambition and spirit.

“As graduates, not only do we recognize them; we embody them. We are the spirit of ECU,” she said. “We know what it is like to give our all to the school and the community.”

In addition to the conferral of degrees, four graduates received the Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award, presented by Brenda Myrick: Matthew Herrmann (political science) of Greenville; Paulette McFadden (anthropology and religious studies) of Kinston; Melonie Norman (nursing) of Yadkinville; and Brandy Shaw (chemistry) of Greenville.

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