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Melinda Gates to Duke grads: 'Connect with the world'

Posted May 11, 2013
Updated May 12, 2013

— With a turn of the tassel, more than 5,000 students became Duke University graduates Sunday during commencement ceremonies at the university's Wallace-Wade Stadium. 

Duke President Richard H. Brodhead presided over the ceremony, and philanthropist Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told students to use technology to connect with the world around them. 

"I want to encourage you to reject the cynics that say technology is flattening your experience of the world," Gates said. "The people who say that technology has disconnected you are wrong, but so are the people who say technology has automatically connected you. Technology is a tool, but deep human connection is very different."

Gates recounted her travels to numerous countries around the world with her work through the foundation she leads, telling students that they have a choice to impact the larger community. 

"You can change the way you think about other people. You can choose to see their humanity first," Gates said. "We are finally creating the tools to turn the world into a neighborhood. You can light up a network of 7 billion people with long-lasting and highly-motivating human connections."

The university awarded about 1,641 bachelor's degrees and 2,215 master's and doctorate degrees Sunday, and another 1,212 students who graduated in the last year were also in attendance. 

Andrew Barnhill, a master’s degree candidate at Duke Divinity School with a focus on American law, was the student speaker at Sunday's ceremony. Barnhill, a native of Wilmington, is chair of the Young Democrats of North Carolina for the state’s 7th Congressional District.

Gates also received an honorary degree during the ceremony.   Duke University commencement Duke University commencement

Other honorary degree recipients are human rights activist Marguerite Barankitse; immune system scientist Max Cooper; archivist David S. Ferriero; Harvard professor of African-American history and literature Henry Louis Gates; investment manager William H. Gross; and choreographer Judith Jameson.

The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates the economic impact of graduation weekend on Durham will be about $6.1 million, said Shelly Green, CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. The money will come from the sale of food, hotel rooms, retail items, gas, car rentals and entertainment, she said.

23 Comments

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  • welfarequeen May 14, 4:11 p.m.

    welfarequeen Dont be so smug. The only difference between Duke, Carolina, NC State and ECU is the cost of attending. superman

    You MUST be joking. Duke is the #8 ranked University in America and 19th in the WORLD! It sits on several thousand acres. The Duke Endowment has billions. Presidents have graduated from Duke, The CEO's of Apple, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, GM. Four Nobel laureates, 20 cabinet members and dozens of ambassadors. ECU is a lovely school, but don't try to turn a Kia into a Rolls Royce baby!

  • superman May 14, 2:45 p.m.

    welfarequeen Dont be so smug. The only difference between Duke, Carolina, NC State and ECU is the cost of attending. You dont get to sit at the front of the bus because you went to school in Durham. Duke aint that good!

  • superman May 14, 2:36 p.m.

    He better be giving his money away. He and his Duke wife certainly wont be able to take it with them. The money is going to burn his pocket.

  • superman May 14, 2:33 p.m.

    welfarequeen It aint her money--it is her husbands money. Wonder is she paid tutition at Duke or if the government gave her a grant. Graduating from Duke is no big deal, there have been thousands of graduates. I graduated from ECU and I have given several dollars to them and I havent been invited to speak yet. My requirements would be that the person is successful in "their own right" not riding on the backpocket of their husband. She would be just another graduate had she not married Bill Gates.

  • NoKoolAid May 14, 1:23 p.m.

    LOL welfare queen...ok I can play. I'm an Egyptian Princess who is on the brink of curing common cold. I own a mansion and a yacht.

  • NoBibleBabble May 14, 8:20 a.m.

    Read the posts below: Atheists and welfare queens love the Gates. Smartmoney
    Well, DUH! Since both Bill & Melinda Gates are both atheists as well, why wouldn't we love them!

    Amen! You have to love the quote by Gates "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

  • atheistswillrule May 13, 4:33 p.m.

    Read the posts below: Atheists and welfare queens love the Gates. Smartmoney

    Well, DUH! Since both Bill & Melinda Gates are both atheists as well, why wouldn't we love them!

  • welfarequeen May 13, 4:31 p.m.

    Welfare queen...your name says it all. Adore all those who "take care" of you.. smartmoney79

    You may need to remove the "smart" part from your online moniker. I am a lawyer ( degree from Duke). I find it very telling that in one of your posts you make it seem that since "atheists and welfare queens love the gates" that is somehow a slight on either group or degrades the generosity of their enormous philanthropic donations. What a sad life you must live where you must tear down anyone and everyone who doesn't fit the Norman Rockwell Faux News version of what YOU think America should be.

  • davido May 13, 3:44 p.m.

    Sorry Melinda, I'm still not buying a Windows phone. ;-p

  • NoKoolAid May 13, 3:39 p.m.

    Read the posts below: Atheists and welfare queens love the Gates... The Gates want their hands in everything, and "give" so they can tell people in high places what to do. It's all about Philanthropic Control, and they have it. Good grief, don't be so foolish and naive.

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