Speaker at Salem College urges graduates to dream big

Speaker at Salem College urges graduates to dream big
May 28
00:00 2015

In photo above: Dr. Freda C. Lewis-Hall was the keynote speaker at Salem College’s graduation on Saturday, May 23. (Photo by Tammy Hardin)

By Carly Williams
For The Chronicle

Saturday morning, May 23, framed by the scenic beauty of Salem College’s May Dell outdoor amphitheater, a standing-room-only assembly of family, friends and faculty witnessed the birthing of 236 dreamers – no longer deferred by exams, presentations, or studying – into limitless possibilities of enhanced purpose.

“Have a dream so profound and compelling that you cannot rest,” Dr. Freda C. Lewis-Hall, commencement keynote speaker, was told by a former president of India during her earlier travels.

Lewis-Hall, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Pfizer Inc. and familiar television personality from “The Doctors” TV show, also shared wisdom from her mother upon Lewis-Hall’s college graduation in 1976: “Know yourself, take action, and believe in your dreams,” she told this year’s graduates. “Be more you. Surround yourself with those who see you. Take action – turn pain and disappointment into meaningful action.”

Dr. Lewis-Hall, who practices centric medicine, has held leadership roles in academia, in medical research, in front-line patient care, and at global biopharmaceutical companies including Vertex, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly.

“We are preparing the next generation of scientific researchers and health-care professionals, and we have made it a priority in our capital campaign to provide state-of-the-art facilities for scientific study,” says D.E. Lorraine Sterritt, president of Salem Academy and College. “We are thrilled to welcome such a prominent scientific researcher to campus at the very time when we are placing a strong emphasis on education and research in the sciences and in mathematics.”

Embodying that quest, which others were beginning, Lewis-Hall praised Salem, since 1772 the oldest continuously operating women’s college in the United States. She told the 236 graduates – 125 of whom were traditional students – that they stood on the cusp of great scientific innovation and technology, and would hopefully be the last group to ever confront HIV/AIDS and cancer. A noted African-American doctor, she further applauded Salem’s intentional inclusion of women of color and adult men and women into her student body, faculty, and staff.

Salem College conferred 206 undergrad and 30 master’s degrees during Saturday’s commencement: 162 Bachelor’s of Arts, 35 Bachelors of Science, nine Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, 21 Masters of Arts in teaching, and nine Masters of Education degrees.

Already, this year’s graduating class boasts a legacy of gifting over $7,000 to the college, the highest of any graduating class.
Of graduates who shared their plans, four will begin advanced level programs this fall: Woyindoubara O. Miediaye Koripamo, Bayelsa, Nigeria, magna cum laude, will attend The London School of Economics in England; Linda Kaye McDaniels, Winston-Salem, was accepted to Wake Forest University Divinity School; M. Denise Smith Leonard, Lewisville, cum laude, will continue studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; and Paula Marie Booth, Emerald Isle, plans to attend Elon School of Law.

Carly Williams is a 2013 Salem College Communication/Creative Writing graduate.

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