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Parkland College 2017 Commencement Exercises, May 18

Give Something Back founder Robert O. Carr to give keynote at 50th anniversary ceremony

Friday, April 28, 2017
***Watch it LIVE May 18 on PCTV or online.***
Prominent American business figure, author, and education philanthropist Robert Owen Carr will provide the keynote address during Parkland College's 2017 Commencement Exercises, Thursday, May 18, at 8 p.m. at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana.Robert Carr

He will also receive the school's Honorary Associate's Degree during the 50th annual ceremony.

In March 2016, Carr was named to a key White House post on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council by President Barack Obama.

He founded a small startup in 1997 that grew to a Fortune 1000 company with more than 4,600 employees. The company was sold last year for $4.3 billion. He recently founded another company, Beyond.

Over his career, Carr has earned widespread praise in the national media for his business acumen, his outspoken criticism of dishonest practices in the financial industry, and his loyalty and generosity to employees at every level.

An advocate and philanthropist for economically disadvantaged students, Carr is founder and chairman of Give Something Back, an organization that provides academic mentoring, social guidance and college scholarships to students facing economic adversity across the nation. He created the program as a gesture of gratitude for a scholarship he received as a senior in high school in his native Lockport, Illinois, in 1963. Since its inception in 2003, Give Something Back has contributed more than $25 million for mentoring and scholarships.

Carr describes growing up in a household with more troubles than money in his first book, Through the Fires: an American Story of Turbulence, Business Triumph and Giving Back. In his recently released book, Working Class to College: The Promise and Peril Facing Blue-Collar America, he lauds community colleges as a key resource in making higher education affordable. Both books are distributed by the University of Illinois Press. He is currently working on a book about the challenges facing students with an incarcerated parent.

Carr earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master's degree in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His first job after completing his education was at Parkland College, as director of the computer center and president of the faculty.

Other honored guests at commencement will include Ashley L. Morgan, who will be honored with the college's Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Morgan is a native of the Champaign-Urbana area. She earned her Associate of Arts in Mass Communication from Parkland College in 2007 and her Bachelor of Science in Media Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010. She began her career in media as a morning radio show host at Stevie Jay Broadcasting. Today, she is employed at Community Blood Services of Illinois, where she serves as a donor relations consultant. She is also earning her MBA from the University of Illinois.

Highly engaged in the Champaign-Urbana community, Morgan spends much of her time volunteering for such organizations as the Champaign County Humane Society, the American Heart Association, and the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana, where she serves as vice president of communications. She also serves on the board of directors for Girls Go for It, a new nonprofit in Champaign aiming to empower 5th-grade girls in the area's schools by helping them build confidence, develop leadership skills, and explore careers.

Parkland's commencement also will feature remarks from college President Thomas Ramage and Board of Trustees Chair Dana D. Trimble. Graduating-student presenters will include LaTianna M. Dumas (greetings), an All-USA Community College Academic Team nominee and president of Parkland's chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society; and Nedyalka M. Sroka (tassel turning), a 2017 Illinois Community College Juried Exhibition honorable mention and winner of the 2017 Parkland President Award for artistic excellence.

Rev. Dr. Patricia A. Havis of St. Luke Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Champaign will provide the invocation/benediction, and the Parkland College Wind Ensemble will perform several selections. A reception will be held in the Krannert Center lobby after the recessional. Tickets are required. 

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