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Bethune-Cookman University Graduates 374 Students for Spring Commencement


U.S. Secretary of Education Encourages Students to Leave a Legacy of Service, Courage and Grace

Daytona Beach, Fla.- Nearly 800 family and friends shared their excitement as 374 students received their degrees from Bethune-Cookman University on Wednesday, May 10th at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. The ceremony began with the conferring of honorary degrees, recognizing Daytona Beach Mayor, Derrick L. Henry, Sr. and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Mayor Henry was presented an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. He is currently serving his second term as Mayor of Daytona Beach after winning the 2016 primary election.

Secretary DeVos delivered the commencement address as twenty students expressed their freedom of protest during her speech. “I am here to celebrate you and all of your achievements. We are all here to applaud your perseverance and to encourage each of you to keep working to reach your full potential. And I’m here to demonstrate, in the most tangible way I know how, that I and the entire Administration are fully committed to your success and to the success of every student across this great country,” she stated. Secretary DeVos gave personal acknowledgements of students who faced hardships during their matriculation and how they overcame those obstacles.

Furthermore, Secretary DeVos imparted words to express a call to serve as the graduates depart from B-CU. “Just think about the impact of Dr. Bethune’s selfless, singular focus. Then consider the influence that you, as a graduate, could have on the lives of others – both now and into the future. All that is required for world-shaking change is your conscious and courageous decision to serve. Your path here was shaped by others – educators, parents, family members, neighbors and friends. Never forget that. Through serving others, you can extend that legacy.”

Out of the 374 graduates, thirteen students were escorted out of the ceremony due to disruption, while 300 students supported the secretary in her response. Secretary DeVos spent time with students before commencement in a round table discussion as students shared thoughts on their educational experiences and created conversation around partnership and what's to come for the current students at B-CU. Later, the U.S. Secretary visited the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation home and placed a commemorative wreath on Dr. Bethune's burial site. "I was honored and humbled by the opportunity to visit Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune's home and pay my respects at her gravesite. I hope we can all draw inspiration from the life and legacy of Dr. Bethune as we each strive to live a life full of service, courage and grace," she said.

B-CU thanks all who attended commencement and applauds those who expressed their courage for using their voice during the commencement exercise.

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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