43 Nigerians at Howard University in Washington D.C made history and the nation proud. Out of the 96 graduating Doctor of Pharmacy candidates, 43 of them were Nigerians and of the 27 awards given, 16 went to Nigerians.
Howard University also awarded a Doctor of Humanities degree to actress and activist Cicely Tyson, a Doctor of Laws to Ambassador Horace G. Dawson, a pioneering member of the U.S. Foreign Service and founding director of the Howard’s Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center, and a Doctor of Science to Dr. L.D. Britt, chairman of the Department of Surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
It awarded more than 1,300 bachelor’s degrees, more than 300 master’s degrees, and over 100 Ph.Ds. The top five areas of concentration were psychology, history, political science, social work and mathematics. Additionally, more than 400 students received professional degrees in law, medicine, pharmacy and dentistry.
Howard University has the only dental and pharmacy colleges in the District of Columbia. The graduates represented 46 states and 35 countries. The youngest graduate at the ceremony was 20-years-old and the oldest was 74.
Speaking at the commencement lecture was US president, Barack Obama.
Obama said when he received a bachelor’s degree in 1983, there were no Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and few Black judges. He said it was important to note the progress America has made in race relations since then.
“To deny how far we have come would be a disservice to those who went before. There’s still so much work to do, so many miles to travel,” he advised.
Speaking from his own experience, Obama encouraged African Americans to continue to embrace their heritage and to “be confident in your Blackness.” Even so, he noted that there was no one way to be Black, and no litmus test for authenticity.
“Look at Howard,” Obama said. “One thing most people don’t realise about Howard is how diverse it is. You shatter stereotypes.”