Date: December 15, 2023

Dr. Robert Taylor delivering keynote address at 2023 Winter Commencement

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – During a moment of pomp and circumstance and feelings of elation and achievement, Fayetteville State University (FSU) dual alumnus and Wake County Public School System Superintendent inspired over 500 graduates and close to 3,000 family, friends, alumni and supporters who filled Felton J. Capel Arena for the 2023 Winter Commencement ceremony on Friday, Dec. 15.

Before Robert Taylor, Ph.D., who graduated from FSU with a master’s in School Administration in 2001 and doctorate in Educational Leadership delivered a daring keynote speech, the arena cheered as graduates processioning boldly donned FSU’s signature Bronco Blue and White. FSU’s accomplished faculty dressed in regalia filled the seats around the graduates and on the stage with Chancellor Darrell T. Allison, who incited long instances of recognition for the graduates, their parents and FSU faculty.

To the 519 undergraduate and graduate candidates, Allison said, “Here is what is so special about you. No matter the obstacle placed in front of you… you overcame. You are indeed an overcomer.”

Special welcomes were delivered from Michael Williford on behalf of the UNC Board of Governors, Kimberly Jefferies Leonard, Ph.D., chair of FSU Board of Trustees and Maya Martin, president of the Student Government Associate.

On a day that concluded with students becoming alumni, Taylor addressed what was to come and requisitioned a list of dares to the group of lifelong Broncos. “How dare you,” he began.

“So often we walk across this stage during graduation, shake hands and never look back,” said Taylor. “How dare you be that person.”

Taylor implored the graduates to become bridge builders for the university, singing praises to anyone that will listen. He dared graduates to share about the great education they received, how faulty prepared them to go into the world and compete and even brag about how great the food is in the FSU cafeteria.

“I dare you to share with anyone who cares to listen, and if they don’t want to listen, share it anyways,” said Taylor.

He went on to dare them to not only be successful, but also change makers in their career and community, to vote, mentor youth and “drive old folk from the rest home to their senior activities.”

Warning those transitioning into a new role of responsibility with their new degrees that adversity is sure to come. “So, I dare you to be ready when it comes,” Taylor said. “I dare you to remember the lessons you’ve learned at this institution, the people who taught them to you, and how to be mentally prepared to see it through tough times.”

Taylor closed his remarks by double daring the students to remember Fayetteville State University after graduation and to give back generously. “Broncos, I D double dog dare you to be a difference in somebody’s life,” he continued. “I D double dog dare you to be ready to face any challenge this world throws at you, to get knocked down and like a kickin’ Bronco get right back up.”

Taylor leads the largest public school district in North Carolina and 15th largest in the nation.

Watch the full 2023 Winter Commencement ceremony on the FSU winter commencement webpage.

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