UNC School of the Arts

A picture of UNC grad turning their graduation tassle
UNC-Chapel Hill

Graduation ceremonies kick off this weekend for colleges and universities across North Carolina. But before hundreds of students walk across the stage to get their diploma, they will be charged by a commencement speaker. 

Speakers will share stories and words of wisdom as the graduates begin their next chapter. This year's roster ranges from a late-night talk show host to a U.S. Congressman. Here are the people students and attendees should look forward to hearing this graduation season.

Photo of low and lower bass/cello duo.
Low and Lower

Bassist Paul Sharpe and Cellist Brooks Whitehouse are a bestselling cello-bass duo who developed a new genre of music that puts string instruments in a new context. 

Photo of poetry writing.
Flickr/Lorenzo Tomada


Triad poets are gaining local and national recognition for their creative approaches to poetry and poetry-inspired community work. 

Duke University

The Duke family and hundreds of their closest friends and supporters filled Duke Chapel yesterday in Durham to say good-bye to Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans.   Duke President Richard Brodhead described Semans as the university’s principal link to Duke’s founding generation.  Leoneda Inge produced this audio postcard from Semans’ funeral.

Music performer:  The Ciompi Quartet

The Rev. Dennis Campbell:  When Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans was born Duke University was no more than a twinkle in her great uncle’s eye.”