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B-CU Graduates 320

 Shaquille O’Neal Surprises His Mother, Lucille O’Neal; Donna Brazile Offers Inspiring Words to Graduates

Bethune-Cookman University can now add 320 new graduates to their alumni roster after the university’s spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7th. Family and friends gathered at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. to support their loved ones and to listen to a dynamic keynote from Donna Brazile, political strategist and analyst.   The graduates also witnessed retired NBA star and TNT sports analyst, Shaquille O’Neal surprise his mother, B-CU graduate and trustee Lucille O’Neal, as she received her doctorate degree.  Donna Brazile also received an honorary doctorate degree from B-CU.  Watch a clip. 

Lucille O’Neal was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.  Her son, Shaquille O’Neal, came out to hood his mother as she became the second Dr. O’Neal in the family.  Shaquille received his doctorate in education in 2012 from Barry University.   Dr. Lucille O’Neal was elated as she recognized her family,  “My heart is so full today because all of my children are here with me,” said O’Neal.  She went on to speak about her community service. “Thank you for allowing me to be of service to you.”  Dr. Lucille O’Neal graduated from B-CU with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and earned a Master of Arts in Organizational Management at the University of Phoenix. 

Donna Brazile, spoke to the students about the strong legacy from which they come from, “Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune maintained her first passion – education.  She built this school through hard work, faith and perseverance.” Brazile told the story of her involvement in working with President George Bush and getting New Orleans back on its feet after Hurricane Katrina.  She said to the students, “Don’t underestimate your power to serve and make a difference. And don’t underestimate your power to become a powerful figure one day.  All you need is a seat at the table.  When you get there, don’t shut up, speak up!”  Brazile went on to ignite the crowd by talking about President Obama and how much influence the younger generation has in politics.  “You see that man in the White House?  You put him there.  You did it not once, but twice. Don’t tell me you don’t have power!”  B-CU honored Brazile with a Doctor of Laws degree.

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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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