A Milestone Commencement at North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University, the historically Black educational institution in Durham, awarded 725 undergraduate degrees and 490 graduate degrees at commencement ceremonies earlier this month. The number of degrees awarded was the largest total in the university’s history.

An even more important milestone was that this year, the university awarded its first Ph.D.s in more than a half century. Three Black women earned a Ph.D. in integrated biosciences at North Carolina Central. They are Elena Arthur, Rasheena Edmondson, and Helen Oladapo. The three women entered the doctoral program in 2012.

Johnson O. Akinleye, interim chancellor of North Carolina Central University, said that “the three young ladies who have earned the Ph.D. degree in integrated biosciences are the epitome of strength, tenacity, and excellence.”

Previously, the only Ph.D. program at the university was in the School of Education. This operated from 1951 to 1962. Dr. Walter Brown, the first Ph.D. recipient at North Carolina Central University, was in the audience when the most recent doctorates were awarded.

Helen Oladapo being awarded her Ph.D. in integrated biosciences


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