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    Department Celebrates 2013 Political Science Graduates

    2013family2commencementThe Political Science Commencement Ceremony was held on Sunday, May 12, 2013 at Memorial Hall on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus following the university ceremony in Kenan Stadium. Graduating seniors majoring in political science were individually recognized as they each made their way to the stage to be formally congratulated by Dr. Evelyne Huber, department chair. Cheers and applause for each graduate from family members and friends, and in one instance, an air horn, added to the celebration inside the auditorium. Dr. Huber, who began the ceremony by welcoming the graduates and their guests, included in her opening remarks that receiving a bachelors degree in political science from UNC-Chapel Hill was a big accomplishment since the program is one of the top-ranked political science programs in the country.

    Tye Hunter, Executive Director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, gave the department’s commencement address. Mr. Hunter received a B.A. in political science and then a J.D., both from UNC, and was admitted to the bar in North Carolina in 1976. Mr. Hunter served as the Appellate Defender for North Carolina and argued hundreds of criminal appeals, including the appeals of many people on North Carolina’s death row. He argued and won McKoy v. North Carolina, a capital case, in the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Hunter served from 2000 to 2008 as the first executive director of the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services, a state agency responsible for providing legal services for persons entitled by law to those services. Currently, he serves as the executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, a non-profit private law firm engaged in representation of capitally charged and convicted persons, as well as public policy reform concerning the death penalty. He was one of the lead lawyers in the first hearings conducted under North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act.  Mr. Hunter also teaches trial advocacy at the UNC law school.

    Mr. Hunter began his remarks by asking the graduates to only focus on “today, not yesterday or tomorrow, just “today.“ He suggested that “today” that they think about who they should thank for helping them on their journey to completing their undergraduate degrees – family, friends, and faculty.  He encouraged them to write one thank you note “today” to someone who made a difference in their lives whether or not they intended to share the note with the person for whom the note was intended. Mr. Hunter recounted a thank you note he wrote to an individual, the minister of his church, who inspired him to expand his views about civil rights and that life is not simply “right and wrong” positions, but rather a multitude of positions that should be considered before making informed decisions.

    Rachel Myrick, a 2013 graduate and recipient of the department’s L. Richardson Preyer Award for Excellence in Political Science began her remarks by acknowledging the adverse impact that recent cuts targeting political science funding by the National Science Foundation would have on the field, impacting our understanding of political processes domestically and internationally. Ms. Myrick reflected about her first semester at UNC and how one political science professor, Mark Crescezni who spoke at an orientation event prior to the start of her first semester, inspired her to become a political science major. The broad range of course offerings in the department, the expertise of the faculty in their specialties, and the faculty support she received, especially by Professor Crescenzi who was her thesis advisor had made her time at UNC challenging and incredibly fulfilling, and she asked her fellow graduates to also reflect on their time at the university and how their lives have changed. In fall 2013, Ms. Myrick will start her next journey as a Rhodes Scholar. She was one of 32 Americans selected for the prestigious award, which funds graduate study at the University of Oxford in England.

    Professor Jonathan Hartlyn, Senior Associate Dean for Social Sciences and Global Programs, concluded the ceremony by asking the graduates of the class of 2013 to continue to be engaged as concerned citizens and to stay connected with the political science department and the University of North Carolina and to come back and visit the “yellow brick walls of Hamilton Hall.”

    Following the ceremony, the graduates, faculty and guests celebrated at an outdoor reception that also featured fantastic weather.

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