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    Michelle Obama Commencement Speech Urges Graduates To Stay Hungry PDF Print E-mail
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    First lady Michelle Obama delivers the commencement address to graduates of Dillard University in New Orleans, Saturday, May 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- First lady Michelle Obama is urging graduates of Dillard University to continue to fuel their hunger for education and use it to guide and inspire the "next generation of geniuses."

    On Saturday the first lady told the 226 graduates of the historically black college that they have opportunities and skills that their parents and grandparents never could have imagined. She urged them to use those skills to help those coming after them.

    Obama also has received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university.

    She encouraged the graduates to start small, such as through volunteering as a tutor or by rallying their communities to start a mentor program, but Obama didn't reject the possibility of larger contributions, such as serving on a school board, in Congress or as president.

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    Nobody's complaining about Michelle Obama's planned visit to Dillard: Jarvis DeBerry PDF Print E-mail
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    By Jarvis DeBerry, | The Times-Picayune 
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    on April 24, 2014 at 2:54 PM, updated April 24, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Nicole Tinson was speaking last April at a Dillard University scholarship luncheon in Los Angles, her hometown. She acknowledges that she probably shouldn't have been handed the microphone. Because when got it, she said made a bold promise. She said that as president of Dillard University's class of 2014 she was going to make sure that President Barack Obama spoke at commencement. It was only after she announced her plan that she said to herself, "I'm going to (have to) figure this out."

    Tinson failed at her stated task, but it doesn't appear that anybody at Dillard cares. Because even though she didn't convince the president to come to campus for the May 10 commencement exercises, she did convince his wife, Michelle Obama.

    Marc Barnes, vice president for institutional advancement at Dillard, said that Hillary Clinton spoke at commencement in 2007, after her husband Bill Clinton had been president and she had been elected to the Senate, but next month's speech by Michelle Obama will be the first one Dillard has heard presented by a current occupant of the White House.

    When asked why she aimed so high in searching for a speaker to address her class, Tinson told a story that illustrates the continuing importance of historically black institutions such as Dillard. Her college counselor didn't think she should apply to college.

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    HBCU All-Star Helps Bring Michelle Obama to Dillard PDF Print E-mail
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    Nicole Tinson, political science major and senior class president of the graduating class of 2014


    Dillard University today announced U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama as its spring commencement speaker, but many at the New Orleans historically Black college are heralding the senior class president for the historic appearance.

    Nicole Tinson, a senior political science major and president of the graduating class of 2014, knew that it would take a special kind of commitment to make good on her promise of delivering a memorable commencement speaker on May 10. Tinson, named in February by the Department of Education as one of the nation’s 75 ‘HBCU All-Stars,’ wrote to the First Lady requesting that Dillard join the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Spelman College, North Carolina A&T State and Bowie State University among the FLOTUS’ HBCU graduation day stops.

    “I never allowed others doubt in getting a great commencement speaker to bother me,” said the Los Angeles native. “I told my story [and the Dillard story] in a letter to Mrs. Obama and kept my faith. As senior class president, I made a vow to our class that we would have someone amazing for commencement and we have the FLOTUS. I don’t think it gets any more amazing than that.”

    Dillard President Walter Kimbrough says that while the entire campus community is excited about Obama’s visit, Tinson deserves the credit.

    “We are so excited to host First Lady Michelle Obama as our commencement speaker. But I am more excited that our senior class president, Nicole Tinson, used her Dillard tenacity and grit to get Mrs. Obama here. Nicole did this on her own and I am so proud of her.”

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    Dr. Wright featured in Huffington Post as One of 5 Black Environmentalist Worth Celebrating PDF Print E-mail
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    Dr. Beverly Wright

    Dr. Wright is the founder and director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), and is also a professor of Sociology at Dillard University in New Orleans. She has veteran advocate for environmental justice, committed DSCEJ to focusing on restoring the city of New Orleans and its residents affected by Hurricane Katrina. In 1994, her exemplary research and advisory to former President Bill Clinton landed her a place at the White House signing of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice.

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    DU Grad Millie Charles earns Loving Cup PDF Print E-mail
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    By John Pope, | The Times-Picayune 
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    on April 19, 2014 at 6:02 PM, updated April 19, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Don't let the spelling fool you. There is no "I" in Millie Charles.

    Whenever the legendary social worker talks about her long life, in which she has confronted the forces of segregation, taught generations of students and done as much as she could to ensure that poor people got a fair shake, it's always in terms of a group.

    "We always did things as a group," she said on a recent afternoon. "It was never an 'I'; it was always a 'we.' . . . I didn't do any of this by myself. Not any. . . . We had to work together to accomplish things. One person can't do it alone."

    That statement is typical of her attitude, said Ronald McClain, president and chief executive officer of Family Service of Greater New Orleans, who earned a master's degree in social work when Charles was dean of the School of Social Work at Southern University at New Orleans.

    "It's never about her," he said.

    But this time, it is about her because Charles, 90, has been chosen to receive The Times-Picayune Loving Cup for 2013. The Loving Cup has been awarded since 1901 to men and women who have worked unselfishly for the community without expectation of public recognition or material reward.

    "I was really surprised" by the accolade, Charles said. "I appreciate that so much, but there were so many of us together. It wasn't just one person; it was the togetherness we had."

    Throughout Charles' career, "her commitment to children and families and vulnerable populations has been amazing," McClain said. "For a long, long time, she has been committed to being a change agent, to committing her life to changing things for the better."

    The New Orleans-born daughter of a Baptist preacher and a woman who believed in the value of education, Millie Ruth McClelland entered Dillard University when she was only 15 and graduated with a degree in secondary education.

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