PHILADELPHIA, April 28, 2014—Jotaka Eaddy, Senior Director for Voting Rights and Senior Advisor to the President and CEO of the NAACP, will give the keynote address at Community College of Philadelphia’s 48th Annual Commencement.
The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on May 3 at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, 1776 North Broad Street.
Erika Lawrence, 24, who will graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and will complete her undergraduate degree at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, is the student speaker. She is one of an estimated 2,376 graduation candidates this year. That figure surpasses the number of graduates in 2012 which at 1,823 was the largest in college history. The total number of 2014 graduation candidates represents those who completed graduation requirements in Fall 2013, and are expected to complete graduation requirements in Spring 2014 and Summer 2014. About 1,200 of the graduation candidates will receive certificates and degrees during the ceremony.
The personal stories of the business student and the national voting rights advocate are rooted in the transformative power of service, civic engagement and leadership. Across the nation, colleges and universities are focused on inspiring life-long learners who understand their roles and responsibilities as citizens. Student engagement and leadership activities on college campuses can improve academic success, new research indicates.
“We have found that students who are in leadership roles and involved and engaged on campus persist at a higher rate, graduate at a higher rate, and transfer at higher rates than those who are not involved,” said Interim President Judith Gay, Ph.D.
As students advance in the workforce, the hope is they will continue to remain engaged in Philadelphia’s schools and neighborhoods. This year’s theme, “Lights, Cameras & Action”, seeks to remind them of their higher calling.
In her commencement address, Eaddy will discuss civic engagement, voting and the benefits that accrue from public service. As leader of the NAACP’s Voting Rights Initiative, she has been involved in expanding access to the ballot box across the country. As an undergraduate student, her campus involvement at the University of South Carolina served as a springboard for a career in public service and grassroots advocacy. There, she was active in student government and eventually became the first and only African American woman in the university’s 213-year history to become president of the Student Government Association.
“Voting rights and civic participation is the cornerstone of our democracy,” Eaddy said. “Ultimately, voting is the most powerful tool we have in our advocacy work to enact change. From access to quality affordable healthcare to equal educational opportunities for all children, voting is how we make voices heard and our priorities clear,” Eaddy said.
Before the 2012 general election in Pennsylvania, the College’s student leaders participated in Rock the Vote, as part of an ongoing effort to engage students in issues that affect their lives. Students handed out materials on the new Pennsylvania Voter ID law to inform peers of the new requirements. Community College of Philadelphia voluntarily changed the student and staff IDs to conform to this new statute so all eligible citizens connected to its Main campus and three regional centers could vote.
Lawrence credits her involvement in campus life with helping her to acquire the confidence to network comfortably with corporate executives and other VIPs. An honors student, she eventually wants to work in global marketing. She chose Temple University as her transfer destination because of its strong study abroad program and global connections.
This year, Lawrence served as treasurer of the Student Government Association as well as president of the college’s Eta Sigma Chapter of Alpha Beta Gamma, an international business honor society. Both groups have performed community service activities throughout the year. “By getting involved you are able to meet various people who can offer you exciting opportunities that you would never think of,” Lawrence said. “Two years ago, I would not have believed this could happen.”
Lawrence enrolled in Temple University through the College’s dual admissions transfer partnership, which allows students to earn an associate’s degree at Community College of Philadelphia and enroll with junior standing to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Temple is one of 12 four-year institutions with which the College has dual admission transfer partnerships. Dual admission students who transfer to Temple are eligible to receive from $500 to $2,000 in annual scholarship funds depending on their grade point average.
At Temple University, approximately one of every 19 students enrolled spent time at Community College of Philadelphia. In 2012, LaToya Stroman, a former Community College of Philadelphia student, served as Temple University’s student commencement speaker.
Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 34,000 students annually and offers day, evening and weekend classes, as well as classes online. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu. Follow us on Twitter.com/CCP.edu. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccp.edu