UNC, Meredith hold graduations

Posted May 9, 2010 12:04 p.m. EDT
Updated May 9, 2010 10:33 p.m. EDT

— Students at Meredith College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received their degrees Sunday with words of wisdom from an author of best-selling legal thrillers and a mother who founded a nonprofit to fight childhood cancer.

John Grisham, the author of 23 books, spoke at the graduation ceremonies in UNC's Kenan Stadium.

“John is an engaging speaker who will have a profound message for our graduates and their families,” Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement. “His prowess with the written and spoken word makes him an excellent choice for a Commencement speaker. He has an inspirational story to share.”

Grisham also has close ties to UNC. His daughter, Shea, was graduated from the university in 2008, and he has spoken at two North Carolina Literary Festivals held on campus in 1998 and 2009.

Meredith College awarded degrees to 460 undergraduates and graduate students in the school's McIver Amphitheater.

They heard from Gretchen Holt Witt, a 1989 graduate of Meredith whose son, Liam, was diagnosed with cancer four years ago. She has founded Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a nonprofit that uses bake sales to raise money and awareness of pediatric cancer.

“Within an alumna of Meredith College is the power to change the world,” Witt said. “But Meredith women don’t change the world because it’s easy or fun or for the fame that goes with the change. Meredith women change the world because when faced with a crisis or a challenge or a situation that must be changed. … We step forward and make change happen.”

North Carolina State, North Carolina Central, Duke and Methodist universities will hold their graduations next weekend.

East Carolina University, Mount Olive College, Peace College, Shaw University and St. Augustine's College held their graduations earlier this weekend.