WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A new class of graduates has emerged from UNC Wilmington, and their Commencement will forever be remembered as a day history was made and dreams fulfilled.
“I'm just very proud. When I was about four years old, I said I was going to be a doctor,” beamed Pamela Baldwin, recipient of a Doctor of Education Degree.
“It's been a lifelong dream for me. It's something I told my father I would achieve at a very young age,” said Mark Tracy, a fellow recipient of a Doctor of Education Degree.
Pamela Baldwin and Mark Tracy not only now hold Doctor of Education Degrees, they are among the first ever African-Americans to graduate with doctorate degrees from UNCW.
Baldwin and Tracy were in the first graduating class of the doctoral program in Educational Leadership coordinated by Professor John Fischetti. He said this is as big as it gets and hopes their research makes history too.
“They've done studies of school-related issues all around southeastern North Carolina, what's working, how it could be better, and we hope the recommendations will really improve things for children, for school boards and for all of us in the community," Fischetti said.
Fischetti, Baldwin and Tracy are so proud and excited. They said the road was long and full of sacrifice, but they hope to pave the way for future generations of African Americans and all scholars.
“You know, I’m not the smartest man in the world, and so hopefully they'll see that others have done it, and it's achievable and that we can overcome those barriers and help to hopefully develop a strong group in Wilmington,” said Tracy.
“It's just been a great experience, and being the first African-American to graduate is just one more thing to be proud of, but I think that any accomplishment you make, no matter what your race or your ethnicity, you just need to be happy for yourself and happy that God has allowed you to do it,” said Baldwin.