Local News

Cosby Wishes UNC Graduates Well, Tells Them To Be Ready

Posted May 19, 2003 7:05 a.m. EDT

— The sky above Chapel Hill was Carolina blue just long enough Sunday for graduates of the University of North Carolina to get through their ceremony. Then came the rain.

But all eyes were on the speaker instead of the sky as comedian Bill Cosby showered the graduates with humor, love and fatherly advice.

Cosby has made a career out of making people laugh. His graduation speech at UNC was no different.

"Once you leave this stadium, it's over," he told the graduates. "If you're not ready, I advise you to stay in that seat."

Wearing a baseball cap and academic gown to deliver the commencement address, Cosby urged his listeners to appreciate the loved ones who've helped them achieve their education.

Cosby kept graduates rolling with laughter as he poked fun at them. He told then that a few days of Navy bootcamp taught him the value of a good education.

He told graduates to "give them your heart and your love."

"You've been going to cafeterias and complaining that you're stressed out," he said. "From what?"

But then came the serious part.

"I'm saying to all of you now as a friend and as someone who loves you that your integrity, your honesty, your responsibility, you need to check it," Cosby said.

Cosby also told the graduates to value the opinions of their parents, whether they went to college or not.

Jonathan Tucker knows that's true.

"I always listen to my mother," Tucker said. "I'm from a single-parent household. I heed her words."

Lots of parents were proud on a day when their children soaked in the speaker's advice.

Cosby has a master's degree and a doctorate in education. UNC awarded him an honorary law degree.

About 30,000 students and family members attended the commencement in Kenan Stadium.

"Bill Cosby said: 'I love you,'" one graduate said. "That's the best graduation present I could have hoped for."

The best present for the parents: the turning of the tassels.