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COMMENCEMENT TIP SHEET

For immediate use

April 30, 2004-- No. 244

Local angles: Apex, Chapel Hill, Durham,
Morganton, New Hill, Raleigh; Tacoma, Wash.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillís spring commencement is at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, May 9, in Kenan Memorial Stadium. Following are human interest story ideas connected to this year's ceremony, with local angles in bold and contact phone numbers for pursuing each one:

Tar Heel, Blue Devil twins to graduate at same time

The Daniels family of Chapel Hill will cover a lot of ground May 9. Look for a caravan of cars and at least two minivans going up and down U.S. 15-501 Ė again and again and again.

Twins Damon and Derek also will graduate the same morning Ė one at Carolina, one at Duke. Besides their main commencements at almost the same time Ė UNCís at 9:30, Dukeís at 10 -- they each have multiple ceremonies to attend that Saturday and Sunday.

"I hope weíll each be able to go to at least one thing for the other person," said Damon, a highly commended residentsí assistant for three years at Carolina and a double major in history and psychology. "I have no idea where my familyís going to be. The only thing I know for sure is where Iím going to be."

Their mom, Mona, canít decide where to go Ė only that sheíll deploy half the relatives to each stadium and designate photographers in both groups.

Saturday, Damon will have a Black Student Movement graduation at 11 a.m. and psychology graduation at 6 p.m. Ė the same time as Derekís Black Student Alliance graduation at Duke. Sunday, Damon will attend history graduation at 8 a.m. Derek, a public policy major, also will earn a certificate in markets and management, honored at a noon ceremony. Maybe all 18 relatives Ė and counting -- can make that?

Mona, a divorced single mother of four, is just thrilled and proud as punch. Besides the twins, she has an older son at Durham Tech and a younger daughter at UNC-Greensboro, who will graduate next year. The twins, she said, won enough grants and scholarships to pay for all four years.

Theyíre fraternal, but do they ever look alike. And do they ever NOT fall into the usual taunting between the Carolina and Duke camps. "Weíll even watch Carolina-Duke games together and not have anything tense," said Damon. "Iím just glad heís close by, because heís my best friend."

Both have job prospects in New York City. "We really want to live there together and continue the next leg of our journey together," Damon said.

To follow up on this story, contact Damon at 914-8583 or damond@email.unc.edu; Derek at 225-0604; and Mona Daniels at 929-0177.

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A fatherís dream, a studentís determination

Sweetly Togbaís father expected that she would one day get a college degree Ė she felt those expectations even as a young child growing up in Liberia.

The years between childhood and adulthood have brought much sadness to her life: She had to flee her home with her family 13 years ago because of the civil war. Her family was forced into hiding and her father, a government official, was executed. Her family was interrogated but released. They crossed the border into the Ivory Coast and then relocated to the United States, where they settled in Raleigh.

But she didnít forget her dadís words, and her motherís strength has inspired her. She graduated with honors in May 2002 from Shaw University with a degree in psychology and social work.

That was more than enough, she thought.

"I felt like I was so blessed to get a college degree. I was blessed to just be alive. I canít push my blessings too far," she said.

One of her mentors at Shaw encouraged her to continue her education, and an open house at UNCís School of Social Work renewed her spirit, she said. "My undergraduate degree was because I felt my dad expected that. Then I moved on to me."

She applied to UNCís School of Social Work, was accepted and in 2003 was chosen as one of four local students to receive a GlaxoSmithKline Opportunity Scholarship. More than 200 Triangle students applied for the scholarship, awarded to college students who have survived adversity in pursuing their education.

This weekend, she graduates from UNC with a masterís degree in social work, and credits God, her professors, her family and the people who helped her family for giving her what she needed to succeed.

"Never was there one day that somebody did not touch our life. People helped us, brought something for us to eat. Things were terrible, but God always put someone in our life to make us see that there was hope."

Now she wants to work within child protective services, so she can make sure children have the resources they need to give them room to hope and to achieve their dreams.

"Taking care of little children is the most important thing in the world. If we canít take care of them, then we donít have much of a future."

Contact Togba at (919) 395-4641.

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Ferrises to be fast on feet to make twinsí, sonís feats

Twins Frances and Elizabeth Ferris of New Hill are completing bachelorís degrees in international studies and journalism and mass communication, respectively. But on May 9, their entire family will major in exercise.

Parents Harvey and Kelli Ferris, brother Brian and relatives will accompany the twins to the main ceremony in Kenan, then on to a reception at the University Center for International Studies at 11 a.m. in West House, near Franklin Street; then to a reception and open house in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication from noon to 1:15 p.m. in Carroll Hall, and then to Carmichael Auditorium on South Road for the schoolís commencement ceremony at 2 p.m.

All told, itís at least a mile, but the physically fit Ferrises arenít worried. "The main thing is to find a good parking spot and hang onto it," Harvey said.

Then theyíll cool their Heels only until the next Saturday, May 15, when Brian graduates from N.C. State University. "Weíre just real glad they didnít have graduation at N.C. State the same day as UNC-Chapel Hill," Harvey said.

The three Apex High School graduates arenít triplets; Brian is a year older than the twins. He won a full, four-year merit-based scholarship to State, the Park. When he wanted to attend for a fifth year to complete a double major and several minors, the family said "sure."

The confluence of ceremonies is "good for our immediate family, but everyone coming from out of town it puts some strain on," Frances said. "If they had to pick one, they have to say who will it be."

Brian, with his advanced computing degrees? Or Elizabeth, with her undergraduate thesis and research with professors on interactive educational Web sites? And Frances, campus activist in groups including student government and a task force that helped develop UNCís new academic plan. Both twins were inducted into the Order of the Grail-Valkyries, which recognizes students of outstanding character who have contributed to UNCís academic climate through scholarship, leadership and service.

The energetic family plans a party at home on May 8 to celebrate all three graduates. "Weíre inviting everyone who has been involved with the kids, going back to their day-care provider when they were 2- and 3-year-olds," Harvey said.

After multiple graduation scramble will come empty-nest syndrome. Frances, a death penalty opponent, will move to San Francisco in hopes of attending law school in California. Brian will head to Seattle for graduate school at the University of Washington, and Elizabeth to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a yearlong internship at the Poynter Institute, an independent, advanced school for journalists.

Reporters may reach the Ferrises at 362-1802; or Elizabeth, 812-6515; Frances, 812-6478; Harvey, 604-2188; and Kelli, 812-5732. The twinsí email addresses are eaferris@email.unc.edu and fferris@email.unc.edu.

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Veazey leaves UNC with impressive environmental legacy

When other graduates hear about Elizabeth Veazeyís experiences at UNC, they may be green with envy.

Veazey, a graduating senior from Morganton, was instrumental in bringing a green energy campaign to UNC. In addition, she traveled internationally and received two consecutive national scholarships. She will receive a bachelorís degree in environmental science on Sunday.

While attending a conference in Colorado, Veazey came up with the idea for a green energy campaign for UNC. The referendum to raise student fees to fund renewable energy sources on campus passed in February 2003, making UNC the first university in the Southeast to obtain some of its power from renewable energy sources. The fund will generate around $200,000 per year beginning this fall.

She also served on the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee, a subcommittee of student government.

"Thatís been really exciting," Veazey said about working on the committee. "We are looking into where we can put solar panels."

During her four years at UNC, she won two consecutive Morris K. Udall Scholarships for academic excellence and commitment to preserving the environment. Her first Udall helped fund her trip to New Zealand in spring 2003 for independent research. She studied extinct and endangered species to see what efforts were taken to help conserve the animals.

That summer, Veazey traveled to northern Alaska to install small wind turbines in villages that previously used diesel generators. "It was amazing to be with the native Alaskans and learn about their history and teach them about renewable energy," she said.

After graduation Veazey would like to start a Southeast Student Climate and Energy Network. The organization would help students at universities across the Southeast start renewable energy campaigns on their campuses. Veazey can be reached at (919) 619-5964 or eveazey@email.unc.edu.

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Nursing ceremony speaker went from UNC to Iraq

Months after Lt. Col. Mona O. Bingham graduated from UNCís nursing doctoral program in 2002, she was deployed by the U.S. Army for Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 47th Combat Support Hospital.

At 296 beds and the largest combat hospital established during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the hospital was designated as the evacuation point for the entirety of the operation.

Bingham will give the commencement address for the UNC School of Nursingís ceremony at 4 p.m. Saturday (May 8) at Carmichael Auditorium.

Bingham served in many roles during her time with the hospital, including infection control officer, preventive medical officer and ultimately as assistant chief nurse. Her most moving experiences, though, came during her time as a head nurse for the hospitalís ward designated for enemy prisoners of war and displaced civilians.

"I believe we learned and felt the essence of nursing Ė that pain and suffering is universal and that we have accepted a job and oath to work to relieve that pain and promote healing," she said.

"War has many faces," she added. "We were privileged to see a different side."

Binghamís experiences were eventually chronicled in the U.S. Army Surgeon Generalís report "Providing Quality Medical Care in the Crucible of Battle."

Now back in the United States, Bingham is chief of the Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Outcomes Program at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash. She is active in nursing research, working as an associate investigator of three grants concerning nursing and soldier health-care issues. She is leading a study to learn more about military personnelís perceptions of deployment.

Bingham has received numerous awards, including the U.S. Armyís Phyllis J. Verhonick Nursing Research Award.

Bingham said her nursing career and education, particularly her graduate education at UNCís School of Nursing, had been instrumental in her success.

"I have seen that humanity has enormous depths, and nursing is a special place to observe that."

To schedule an interview with Bingham, contact Sunny Smith Nelson at UNCís School of Nursing, (919) 966-1412.

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Commencement web site: http://www.unc.edu/commencement

Contacts: Print: L.J. Toler, 919-962-8589 or laura_toler@unc.edu; or Deb Saine, 919-962-8415 or deborah_saine@unc.edu. Broadcast, Karen Moon, 919-962-8595 or karen_moon@unc.edu