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Executive Remarks, Student Body President Lamar Richards

First Generation Student Association Inaugural Graduation Ceremony

Saturday, May 22, 2021


Good Afternoon Everyone! My name is Lamar Richards, and I am honored to serve as Carolina’s Student Body President and as a member of the Board of Trustees. I want to start by first congratulating you all on this momentous occasion and for making it to this point in your lives. Thank you for allowing me to address you all today. Today is a day of celebrating all of the good, bad, wrongs, and rights that led to this point. You have worked tirelessly to see this moment and I know that it did not come easy.

Having to overcome the expansive multifaceted features of college is quite the challenge, and may seem impossible to navigate the first time around. Whether it’s managing finances, filling out housing, registering for classes, or finding external and professional opportunities, it can all be extremely frustrating. However, you didn’t surrender. You might’ve made mistakes along the way, but the lessons of perseverance are invaluable. And let’s be clear, no one truly understands what it’s like to be a first gen at a school like Carolina except for you all. Because you did it, and you did it with grace and humility that has allowed you to make it to today. 

Live in these moments because it’s worth basking in. I found your Executive Board’s motto quite inspiring, “I may be the first, but I won’t be the last. Being first means I am open to infinite opportunities, there are no setbacks”. There will be many “firsts” in your life, but knowing every “first” opens doors for those behind you is extraordinary in and of itself. Every second of hard work pays off for moments like these. 

My Grandmom was an educator and coincidentally, she didn’t drive. But I guess it really didn’t matter much because the preschool she worked at was up the street from her house. So as you can imagine, when I was younger, I could never figure out how she mustered the strength to get up everyday and walk to work and still be confident and find pride in what she did. But I later realized why: she had very little formal schooling, but she knew one thing: hard work was the only thing that could provide for her family because that was her only goal –  to give her family access to opportunities that she did not have. And I can only imagine that someone in your lives has worked just as hard for you to be here today, whether it was your parents, siblings, friends, educators, or just a mentor.

I know that you all are seeing things in the news and media about Carolina, and I imagine you will well into the future. Please do not allow this to diminish or tarnish the hard work you have put into reaching this day and making this happen. You all continue to inspire future generations of Tar Heels and college students across the country. 

I am so very proud of each and every one of you. I hope that in the days ahead you carry the lessons you’ve learned here with you and take on every challenge and encounter of adversity with only the pride of a first generation Tar Heel grad!

Having a community such as FGSA is necessary, and I’m so grateful to be in the presence of each and everyone of you in this space. Once again, congratulations! I eagerly look forward to seeing all that your futures hold!

Thank you.

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