NC Wesleyan University Sends Off Class of 2024

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – On Saturday, May 4, North Carolina Wesleyan University held its annual commencement ceremony at the Rocky Mount Event Center. The University celebrated 300 graduates, marking its 84th graduation.

The event was open to graduates, faculty, the platform party and guests of graduates where over 2,000 were in attendance. University Chaplain, Rev. Edwin Ferguson, gave the invocation, followed by a performance of the Star-Spangled Banner by alumna, Ms. Latisha Scott ’06.

President Dr. Evan D. Duff welcomed the crowd to the momentous occasion and congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments noting, “Your degree is provided by an institution which seeks not only to dispense knowledge and develop the habits for lifelong learning, but also expects its graduates to be responsible citizens, contributors to the common good and individuals who care about others. As we celebrate together, we acknowledge the obligations all of us have to help bring about a better world.”

Keynote Address

The commencement address was given by Dr. Kara Renai King, Vice President and Site Lead for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals – Rocky Mount facility. Dr. King delivers value to organizations through her servant leadership style complimented by her strong foundation in science, strategic mindset, and the ability to create an environment that fosters joy, creativity and innovation. Hallmarks of her leadership are building high performing teams, elevating leadership capability, and delivering results.

black female executive
Keynote speaker for 2024 Commencement was Dr. Kara Renai King, Vice President and Site Lead for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals

Dr. King sits on the board of Eastern University and the International Leadership Association (ILA). She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hampton University, a master’s degree in Cell Biology & Biotechnology from University of the Sciences, and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University.

Dr. King addressed the graduates stating, “You, the class of 2024, have shown remarkable adaptability and perseverance in completing your studies amid these unprecedented challenges. You have demonstrated that you are not only ready for the future, but that you are also capable of shaping it. You have proven that you are not only scholars, but also leaders, activists, innovators, and changemakers. You have earned the right to celebrate your achievements today.”

She went on to offer the Class of 2024 two things to keep in mind “Life is about continually discovering and developing yourself. To reach your own version of greatness, you will need deliberate attention, deliberate actions and a deliberate attitude. So, activate your GRIT.” GRIT being an acronym for Greatness Requires Intentional Transformation. She also encouraged them to “overcome your inner war.”

Dr. King ended with “There’s no need to look to your left or to your right nor in front or behind you—instead, everything you need to activate your GRIT is already inside you.”

After Dr. King’s inspiring speech, Mark Hinson inducted the Class of 1974 into the Golden Bishops Circle. The Golden Bishops Circle, affectionately known as GBC, was started in 2021 by the Office of Advancement in collaboration with University leadership as a way to honor graduates that have reached their 50th year as Bishop alumni. In creating the GBC, Wesleyan aims to keep the history of Wesleyan and the educational journey alive … to celebrate its past, honor its present, and inspire the future.

Student and Faculty Awards

Dr. Patricia Brewer, Professor of Education and Coordinator of Special Education, 2024 Exemplary Teacher Award recipient

Dr. Patricia Brewer, Professor of Education and Coordinator of Special Education, was presented with the 2024 Exemplary Teacher Award. This award recognizes excellence in teaching and promotion of student learning, civility and concern for students and colleagues, commitment to value-centered education, service to students beyond the classroom and service to the larger community beyond campus.

Candela M. Diaz Babilani, Algernon Sydney Sullivan award recipient

Candela M. Diaz Babilani received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award, which honors a senior who best exemplifies excellence in character, leadership, service to the community and a commitment to spiritual values. This humanitarian award is meant to recognize those who have selflessly given to others or served others in some way. 

Ms. Babilani is a Political Science graduate from Argentina who has distinguished herself on the Wesleyan campus and in the community by her leadership of the Worldwide Welcome Team for international students at North Carolina Wesleyan and by coordinating a number of Optimist International events on campus including a clothing drive to support families in crisis and efforts to provide supplies for the campus food bank.  She plans to work for a year before entering graduate school. 

Alexis May Reinert, President’s Cup Award recipient

The President’s Cup Award was presented to Alexis May Reinert, a senior who best exhibits those characteristics considered most desirable in a graduate.  Of particular importance is the attainment of the highest standards of academic performance as demonstrated by the overall grade point average at North Carolina Wesleyan University. The recipient is also chosen by the Honors Awards Committee.

Ms. Reinert is from Orrtanna Pennsylvania.  She graduated in December with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science, and she earned the highest overall grade point average in the senior class while playing many roles on campus as a tutor, a leader in the Taylor-Crocker Honors Program, and a member of the women’s soccer team. 


Dr. Kara King was awarded a Doctor of Science Honorary Degree from NC Wesleyan University. This was presented to her from the graduating Pfizer interns, was recommended by the Honorary Degree Committee and approved by the Board of Trustees. In addition, NC Wesleyan’s ROTC program commissioned five graduates into the United States Army. These students took the oath of office from Major William Burgdorf. The newly commissioned Second Lieutenants include: Robert Augburn, Comaggio Brady, Cullen Davis, Joshua Denton, and Morgan Waters commissioned into the U.S. Army.

The event was live-streamed and recorded so family and friends who were not able to attend in person could celebrate with their students virtually. The recording can be viewed at and the University’s Facebook page.

NC Wesleyan Commencement 2024

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