June 17, 2015  

CDU’s 31st Commencement: Messages to the Class of 2015

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Terrence James Roberts, Little Rock 9 Encourages Students to Get to Know Themselves.


When the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) hosted its 31st Annual Commencement Ceremony at the StubHub Center in Carson, the 215 graduates were treated to a banquet of ideas to inspire them to greater heights. 
Dr. David M. Carlisle, President and CEO reminded them of their mission: “Sir Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.’ As a graduate of CDU you have accepted the responsibility to fulfill the University’s mission to give of yourself in order to transform the lives of underserved and under-resourced communities by providing healthcare with excellence and compassion.”


The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Terrence James Roberts, who was one of the Little Rock 9, students known for integrating public schools in Arkansas in 1957. But integration and race were not his chosen topic of the day.  Instead he implored the graduates to get to know themselves better:

“I invite you to think seriously about getting to know you--to develop the kind of self-awareness that allows you to know in advance what you would do even in situations where you’ve never been-- to spend time at the intersection of self and others especially others different from yourself in the name of building relations that lead eventually to stronger communities,” said Dr. Roberts.

The student leaders from the three schools had their say:

Lujia Zhang, who would be graduating from the Charles R. Drew University/ UCLA Medical Education Program would also be called “Doctor” as soon as his tassle crossed right to left, addressed his classmates:

“We chose this University because we wanted to help the people that need it most. We wanted to level the playing field   To eliminate disparities...

“We help people. By reaching out to a single person we can improve a family. By improving a family we can impact a community. And by impacting a community we can bring about the positive change we want to see in the world.  You all have that power.  Your training has prepared you...  We help people. This is why we work and our work is just beginning...Later, this month I’ll be leaving CA for my residency.  I’ll miss CDU but the lessons I’ve learned here will stay with me forever...and when people ask me where I’m from I can’t wait to tell them ‘I’m from Drew.’”

Elizabeth Wells, who graduated from CDU’s Mervyn M. Dymally School of Medicine (MMDSON), addressed her fellow nurses.
“All of the students you see in front of you have studied endlessly—persevered through many sleepless nights and volunteered their time and skills to their surrounding communities, all while maintaining families, jobs and their sanity.  This was done so we each could be as best prepared as possible for our future aspirations and our professional endeavors. CDU has not only sculpted each of us to be safe and effective nurses...but this University has instilled within us a drive for excellence, a thirst for continuing education and a hope for a better future. As we each sit here in apprehension of what is to come, there is one thing that is certain: each of us is prepared to move beyond expectations.”

Chinua Ezeonu, graduate of the College of Science and Health (COSH) remarked, “We are moving beyond expectations and striving for excellence.  I see [students of] COSH, Life Science, Post Bac, Radiologic Technology and Urban Public Health. Congratulations!  You see, this public glory of our success is what the world will see but never the private sacrifices to reach them...

“We have laid a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at us...We continue  to move and strive and we always have this spiritual crown on our heads and once you look down, you drop that—so never take that risk.” 

There is nothing in this world that is more common that unsuccessful people with talent…eventually, you find your gift...and life becomes meaningful but the purpose of life is to give it away. Let us continue to strive for excellence never relenting to move beyond our own expectations.  We are entrepreneurs with no safety net underneath us but God. He makes us indomitable.

Special honors went to former CDU Board Member Dr. Robert Tranquada who received an Honorary Doctoral Degree. Dr. A. Eugene Washington former CDU Board Member and current Chancellor for Health Affairs and the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Duke University Health System received the Board’s Medal of Honor.  CDU President, Dr. David M. Carlisle presented Dr. Gus Gill, former CDU Senior Advisor, with the President’s Medal posthumously to Mrs. Ann Gill.

The event was streamed live and is available by visiting the CDU website at

Sentinel News Service:
Commencement Post Release

For Western Region Celebrates 50 Years

Note:  Commencement Photos are available for download here:
Commencement Photos Credit: Courtesy of Charles R. Drew University



Isidra Person-Lynn
Communications Specialist
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
1731 E. 120th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90059
Cell: (213) 422-8707 | Phone: (323) 563-5833





About Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
CDU is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian, medical and health sciences institution. Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated more than 550 medical doctors, 2,700 post-graduate physicians, more than 1,200 physician assistants, 560 nurses and hundreds of other health professionals. CDU’s mission is to develop a diverse group of health professional leaders who seek social justice, promote wellness, provide care with excellence and compassion and are uniquely qualified to transform the health of underserved populations through outstanding education, research and clinical services in the context of community engagement.
For more information about the academic programs offered at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science visit . or call (323) 563-4969. For more information, visit


1731 East 120th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90059
p 323 563 4987  f 323 563 5987

A Private University with a Public Mission

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