Local News

Three lucky grads get diplomas early at UNC-CH

Posted May 9, 2014 6:53 p.m. EDT

— Graduation for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill isn’t until Sunday, but three lucky students received their diplomas Friday.

The small ceremony marked a first for Chancellor Carol Folt, who was installed in October, and the students, who are the first in their families to earn a college degree.

Ashley Ownbey of Rutherfordton, Shannon Smith of Chapel Hill and Edgar Lopez of Chapel Hill each received a unique, hand-signed diploma from Folt.

“It’s been really a great moment to take in,” Ownbey said. “I think I have a real passion for learning. I’m not just graduating, I’m graduating with the highest honors.”

Smith said she wants to be an example for her daughter.

“It is a really big deal for my daughter, Isabel, to see me accomplish such a milestone,” she said. “She's going to look to me to see how to be successful.”

All three students majored in public policy.

“I have a real interest in the public sector and giving back through government,” Lopez said.

Nearly 6,000 degrees will be conferred during Sunday’s commencement, which begins at 9:30 a.m.