Speaker tells grads to be courageous about diversity

(WFU Photo) Morgan Stanley Vice Chair Carla Harris speaks during Wake Forest University's Commencement Ceremony on Monday, May 21.

Speaker tells grads to be courageous about diversity
May 24
04:30 2018

Wake Forest University honored the late Lawrence Joel and heard from Morgan Stanley Vice Chair Carla Harris during its Commencement Ceremony on Monday morning.

More than 1,800 students graduated during the ceremony, which took place at Hearn Plaza.

Joel was honored posthumously with a Doctor of Laws presented to his children, Deborah and Tremaine Joel. Joel, a Winton-Salem native who died in 1984, was an Army medic who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for attending to his fellow soldiers while being wounded himself, during an ambush in the Vietnam War. He was the first living African-American to receive the medal since the Spanish-American War. The Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which Wake Forest University has owned since 2013, is named after him.

Harris delivered the commencement address. She is vice chair of Wealth Management and senior client adviser at Morgan Stanley, a multinational investment bank and financial services company. She was chair of the Morgan Stanley Foundation from 2005 to 2015 and was appointed in 2013 by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council.

She currently oversees Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation lab, which helps minority and women-owned startups. Harris is also an author with two published books and a singer with three gospel CDs and five sold-out Carnegie Hall performances.

Harris encouraged graduates to make bold decisions and take risks in life. She also told them to have courage, especially when it came to inclusion. She said it took courage to hire diverse professionals and overcome both conscious and unconscious bias in the workplace.

“It you’re going to lead, then I tell you, you must have courage,” said Harris.

The audience was filled with graduates eager to lead. One was Byron Goode of Charlotte, who plans to use his degree in political science and international affairs to work in local government. He said that he’s been in touch with the City of Winston-Salem, where Assistant City Manager Ben Rowe and Business Inclusion and Advancement Director Evan Raleigh gave him guidance. He now wants to work in Winston-Salem’s Business Inclusion and Advancement department. Goode said that he felt Winston-Salem was on the verge of a boom similar to Charlotte that he wants to be a part of. Ultimately he’d like to be a city manager.

Goode is a Magnolia Scholar who is the first in his immediate family to graduate from college. He said he had a lot of support from his family, 30 of whom flew from Pennsylvania to be there for the graduation.

“I have a big support system, a big village behind me,” said Goode.

Another political science and international affairs graduate, Nia McIntosh of St. Paul, Minn. started as a biology major, but switched her major because she wanted to deal with the roots of health disparities. She plans to get a graduate degree in health care from the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Service. She hopes to work for either the federal government or the United Nations.

Both Goode and McIntosh had high praise for their Wake Forest experience.

“I think Wake Forest truly prepares you for the real world,” said McIntosh. “They give you all the tools that you need to be successful and they make sure you have that one-on-one attention so that you’ll be prepared to make that next step in the future.”

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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