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2017 Graduates Have Reason For Optimism

A picture of UNC grad turning their graduation tassle
UNC-Chapel Hill

Graduates. Cheer up!

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute paints a more hopeful picture for those wearing caps and gowns than in several years.

"Members of the Class of 2017 have better job prospects than their peers who graduated in the aftermath of the Great Recession," according to the report. "Unemployment rates for young high school and young college graduates have returned to within one percentage point of their pre-recession levels and wages are continuing to slowly recover."

But the report’s authors also warn that 2007 sets a low bar, economically. They say unemployment and underemployment rates among recent college graduates are still high, relative to the 1990s and 2000s.

On Saturday, more than 5,000 graduates will walk across the stage at N.C. State commencement ceremony. On Sunday, another 10,000 will do the same at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke graduations. Several smaller schools like Shaw and N.C. Central universities also have commencements scheduled.

On Sunday, CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin will address more than 6,000 students graduating from UNC. Baldwin graduated from the university in 2001 with a degree in journalism and Spanish.

That commencement will be held at the same time as sports rival Duke’s, which will award 5,000 degrees alongside former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The Durham native is set to receive an honorary degree.

Phil Freelon, another Durham native, will receive an honorary degree from N.C. State. Freelon is a 1975 graduate and a renowned architect who designed the National Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C.

Meredith College in Raleigh will award diplomas to nearly 500 students Saturday evening. The graduates will be addressed by a lead executive from local company Simple Change Wellness.

Earlier on Saturday, Shaw University’s 200 graduates will hear from radio host and entrepreneur Tom Joyner at their commencement. Joyner is said to have received an honorary degree from every historically black college and university in the United States.

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