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2013 Commencement Speakers Each Have Made a Difference

04/24/13 -  

Classes may be over for this year's Queens University of Charlotte graduates, but they'll hear one more perspective before receiving their diplomas next week.  This year's convocation speakers are Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, Knight Foundation's Eric Newton and environmental lawyer Donnell "Trip" Van Noppen III.

Dr. Ophelia Garmon-BrownDr. Garmon-Brown, vice president of community partnerships at Novant Health, will speak at the Associate of Science of Nursing ceremony on May 2. The first African-American female resident at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, she has been recognized for her service to the community both here in Charlotte and internationally. Garmon-Brown, who is also a member of Queens' board of trustees and an ordained minister, has also participated in the Presbyterian School of Nursing's Blessing of the Hands ceremony for many years.  "Ophelia is recognized in the community for her advocacy on many levels," said Presbyterian School of Nursing Director Tama Morris.  She added, "Nursing remains primarily a female profession. It is important for our students to have a positive female role model and to understand that we are all capable of making a difference in the lives of others." 

Donnell Van Noppen IIIAnother speaker making a difference is Donnell "Trip" Van Noppen III, President of the nation's premier public interest environmental law firm, Earthjustice.  The Yale and UNC-Chapel Hill-educated lawyer has handled a variety of environmental cases in both private practice and at the Southern Environmental Law Center's Carolinas office.  He was named North Carolina's "Air Conservationist of the Year" in 1996 and has taught environmental justice as a visiting scholar at Duke University. Van Noppen will give his address at the undergraduate ceremony on May 4.

Eric Newton Graduates of Queens' Hayworth and graduate programs will hear May 3 from Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at Knight Foundation. As program director and vice president during the past decade, he has overseen the development of more than $300 million in grants, including some to Queens' Knight School of Communication to enhance digital media literacy.  Newton started out in newspapers, and the Oakland Tribune won a Pulitzer Prize while he was its managing editor. Newton was also a founding managing editor of the Newseum. He has taught journalism and is the co-founder of the First Amendment Project, a nonprofit law project.

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