Karlie Smith of Ocean View graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from East Carolina University during spring commencement exercises May 4 in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Fireworks capped off a new format for ECU’s 109th spring commencement ceremony, which was held in the evening for the first time.
The keynote speaker for commencement was Linda McMahon, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. McMahon earned her bachelor’s degree in French and her teaching certification at ECU, and went on to become the co-founder and chief executive officer of World Wrestling Entertainment.
She encouraged graduates to “find your passion, play to your strengths and never lose your curiosity. I think these apply to business or any path you take. While you can’t script your life, your values will drive your narrative.”
In recognition of her leadership, accomplishments and service, Chancellor Cecil Staton awarded McMahon an honorary doctorate of humanities degree, as approved by the ECU Board of Trustees.
Smith was one of 5,479 graduates who received degrees.
ECU offers more than 85 bachelor’s, 72 master’s and 19 doctoral degrees to nearly 29,000 students on its Greenville, N.C., campus and through an online learning program.