Duke graduates hear from Nobel Peace Prize winner

Posted May 16, 2010

— A speech from a Nobel Peace Prize winner on Sunday capped a weekend of graduations in the Triangle.

Duke University awarded degrees to 1,500 undergraduates and 2,100 graduate and professional students during a 10 a.m. ceremony in Wallace Wade football stadium.

Students heard from Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi banker who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for inventing microcredit loans for the poor.

Yunus said he was pleased to receive an honorary degree in a year when "not many universities are giving honorary degrees to bankers."

He described how his organization recently opened a branch in Queens, New York, to make micro-loans to people of modest means to start up self-employment ventures.

"You tell me who is not credit-worthy now," he said.

Yunus urged Duke graduates to measure their lives not by how much they earn, but by how much they help others.

“Each individual, each human being has enormous power to change the world. You have it," he said. "Are you going to use that power to change the world?”

Graduation ceremonies will continue this week, with Wake and Durham technical community colleges drawing high-profile speakers. Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams will speak at Durham community college's graduation Wednesday, and Sen. Richard Burr will speak at Wake community college's graduation on May 23.

Campbell, N.C. Central, North Carolina State University and Methodist universities held their commencement ceremonies Saturday.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Shaw University, East Carolina University and Meredith, Peace and St. Augustine's colleges held graduations last weekend.


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  • redspringssean May 17, 2010

    Myra I don't see why you or anyone else should have a problem with Mr. Yunus giving this speech at Duke or why someone should callously assume that the graduates of that institution don't care what happens to the "POOR". Does the fact that someone attends Duke to receive a good education have anything to do with the fact that there are poor people in the world? I think that Mr. Yunus' idea of providing loans to the POOR was a good idea and best of all because it didn't involve a government bureaucracy it was efficient and has so far been a successful venture. Consider this in relation to any other social engineering project and it is obvious why Mr. Yunus deservedly received the Noble Prize and why he should have the opportunity to speak at events such as the commencement at Duke. You may be interested to know that Duke has a Divinity School and I would dare say that there are many in that program who are not the elite rich and want to help people.

  • whatusay May 17, 2010

    People live lots better and this was a better country before food stamps and taking from some citizens and giving to others. I have no problem helping elderly people who can not work or are disabled, but I do have a problem with young women having kids with no father in the home as a means of income. And, don't forget, the democrats introduced welfare and now we have millions upon millions of illegals in this country doing the work that able Americans could do, if the government was not paying them to "not work".

  • Bill of Rights May 17, 2010

    Myra: I bet quite a few of those Duke graduates care about poor people getting microloans. Many students that go to Duke come from less socioeconomic privileged households. And regardless of where they came from, having a degree from a prestigious private university does not preclude their interest in helping poor communities develop.

    It's a shame that you would paint all Duke graduates with the same brush. Duke is a fine school and I know many wonderful people there who care about more than bottom-line profit.

  • BubbaDuke May 17, 2010

    Credit is the problem with our economy today. Our 'economic recovery' is based on very shoddy principles that will only make the next collapse the worst we've ever experienced.

    The solution to credit is to follow the biblical principle of the Year of Jubilee in which all debts are forgiven. This occurs every 50 years - because compounded interest can take a lifetime to repay. As a result, many people walk away from their debts and lenders pass along their losses to the next creditors.

    According to this principle, if you buy property in year one, you get cheap rates. But the closer you get to the end of the 50 year cycle, the more debt costs you because the lender will want to recover their money before the next Year of Jubilee. It would be a great deterrent to buyers to purchase a home in year 40, knowing that they'd have to pay it off in the next ten years.

    If Obama declared a Year of Jubilee during his term in office - he would definitely keep his job another term.

  • Myra May 17, 2010

    microcredit loans for the poor would interest elite DUKE graduates how? How many POOR people were in the graduation class? How many of these elite graduates would have need of a loan for the poor? How many of them would care if poor people got loans. Having wealth and riches doesn't make anyone an honorable caring person with courage and integrity; it many times has the opposite effect.

  • hardwork919 May 17, 2010

    I don't know if that's a direct comment to me or not but I don't feel that "spreading the wealth" as you put it is the right way to go all the time either... however, if you've got a million dollars in the bank and I make $12,000, I don't see why you're angry that I'm getting food stamps, government assistance, etc.

    Yes, I'm aware that people abuse the system but not everyone is and I think that's where the problem lies... everyone assumes if you're lazy, need gov't assistance, you're lazy, on drugs, don't make sacrifices, etc. etc. All this is another conversation really though...

    People should be more willing to help others instead of always worrying about their bottom line... at least that's the way I plan to run my business ventures...

  • whatusay May 17, 2010

    One should help others because they "want" to, not because a socialistic government forces them to "spread the wealth". Doing something out of compassion is one thing, but no one should ever force something that is not in the heart of the person giving.

  • hardwork919 May 17, 2010

    "Yunus urged Duke graduates to measure their lives not by how much they earn, but by how much they help others."

    I think this is an awesome message and something we as a people need to go back to... no one wants to be (or should be) destitute, of course, but I believe one can live comfortably and still help others... so many people are on this "I don't care about anyone else but me and mine so if they're poor/sick/need help, tough cookies!" kick and it's bothersome... yet we wonder why the world is turning into such a dark and dreary place...