Education

Duke graduates hear from Nobel Peace Prize winner

Posted May 16, 2010 2:00 p.m. EDT
Updated May 16, 2010 3:30 p.m. EDT

— 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.