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7,000 Turn Their Tassels in Triangle

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CHAPEL HILL — When the recessionals sounded, 7,000 students marched out of graduation ceremonies Sunday morning to begin the rest of their lives.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in Durham each graduated approximately 3500 students.

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, addressed the UNC grads at Kenan Stadium and former President George W. Bush did the honors at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium.

"Are you going to be selfish and say why me or say if it feels good, do it? Or will you roll up your sleeves and get involved and put something back?" Bush asked.

"I hope this graduation class will never go out and work just for money. It's never going to save your soul and it won't help you sleep," exhorted Edelman.

UNC gave an honorary degree to former NCCU Chancellor and well-known track coach Leroy Walker.

Duke awarded an honorary degree to historian and former Duke professor John Hope Franklin.

Generally speaking, the newest grads face a rosy start for their careers. Salaries are up and it is not uncommon for several companies to be after a given graduate.

Still, not everyone is trading a mortarboard for a desk and expense account come Monday.

Computing, engineering, high tech and finance are among the hot fields; graduates in other fields are finding jobs but not in the numbers nor at the salaries of the high-demand categories.

The situation is a far cry, however, from several years ago when the economy was in a down-turn and freshly-minted graduates (and their parents) despaired of their ever connecting with a job.

At graduation, money flows in other directions, too. Hotels and restaurants really ring in on the cash. Many dining spots were booked six months in advance.

Hotel rooms are at a premium.

Graduation weekend at the Washington Duke Inn has been booked for the past four years and straight into the year 2003.

By that time, today's graduates should be well on their way to success


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