Oscar Nominated Costume Designer, Challenges HU Class of 2018 to Follow Their Dreams

HAMPTON, Va.  —  Thundering cheers poured from the 17,000 attendees in the stands of Armstrong Stadium on Sunday, to celebrate Hampton University’s 148th commencement ceremony. The 870 graduates in the class of 2018 marched across the field donning their caps and gowns and looking towards their bright futures.

Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey spoke to the crowd of graduate friends, families, and alumni to celebrate the class of 2018’s achievements. “As your president, I’m proud of your accomplishments,” said Harvey. “It is now your responsibility to determine the kind of life you will lead and to create a place for yourself in this ever changing world.  I challenge you to allow your academic experiences to serve as the foundation for a very productive future career. Don’t be common or ordinary. Be extraordinary and dream no small dreams.”

Keynote speaker Ruth E. Carter, Hampton University alumna, two–time Academy Award-nominated costume designer, and first African American woman nominated for an Oscar in costume design, delivered a powerful message to the graduating class. Her message connected the newest graduates of Hampton University to the early beginnings of the world class institution and the heroes who paved the way for its founding over 150 years ago. “What I want to emphasize today, is the importance of our Afrofuture,” said Carter. “Our Afrofuture was first born with the vision of our first teacher here at Hampton, Mary Peak. She engaged former slaves who at one time didn’t have a choice, and who ran and fought for freedom. She authored the choice of education under The Emancipation Oak and when she did that, she planted seeds of freedom in all of us, so that today we can dream in these distinguished costumes of education.”

Following Carter’s keynote address, Dr. Harvey shared a special moment with the 1982 Hampton University graduate. Due to having already started working in the film industry, Carter did not attend her own graduation ceremony. Once Dr. Harvey learned of this, he ensured that she would receive her diploma at this year’s ceremony and proudly presented Carter with her bachelor’s degree, 36 years after she completed the requirements.

As the ceremony came to a close, class Valedictorian Payton Irene Newsome gave the class of 2018 one final charge before they embark on their next stage of life. “On this day, May 13th 2018, we can finally press the reset button again,” said Newsome. “Today is our new beginning; today we have new endeavors, challenges, and opportunities. Today, class of 2018, we step out of our comfort zones and let life begin.”


Dr. William R. Harvey shares speacial moment with keynote speaker Ruth E. Carter. Dr. Harvey presents Carter with her diploma from 1982, Carter missed her own graduation ceremony.




Dr. William R. Harvey, Hampton University President



Awards Presented at the Ceremony:

•    Outstanding Alumnus-at-Large Award – Ruth E. Carter, Two –Time Academy Award Nominated Costume Designer

•    Outstanding Alumnus-at-Large Award – Charles S. Harris, Executive Vice President at Averett University

•    Outstanding Twenty-Year Alumnus Award – Ms. Mawiyah Husbands, professional school counselor

•    Class of 2018 Valedictorian – Payton Irene Newsome

•    Class of 2018 Salutatorian – Pearis Bellamy

•    Edward L. Hamm, Sr. Distinguished Teaching Award – Dr. Kelwyn D’Souza and Dr. Harvey Stokes

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