Turning of the tassel

Two distinguished UNCW graduates were among 2,615 to walk across the stage this past weekend at graduation

Julian Morris attends his graduation from UNC Wilmington on May 5.

WILMINGTON — On a Friday afternoon, more than 500 students from the Cameron College of Business at UNC Wilmington prepare to walk across the stage and receive their diploma. This year’s graduation included four commencement ceremonies with 2,200 undergraduates, 400 undergraduates and 15 doctoral students.One of those walking in the May 5, 2 p.m. commencement is Julian E. Morris, a recognized graduate known for his avid participation in student groups and honor societies, including being a Student Government Association senator.”I would tell my freshman self to slow down and breathe — I have always been impatient to succeed,” Morris said. “One of the most important pieces of advice I’m going to take into post-grad life is that you create your own opportunities, and I intend to do just that.”Creating opportunities isn’t a new concept for Morris. As an undergrad, he started the digital marketing company Jules & Gems Media, and he also served as chairman of the Zero-Waste TealGate project that was recognized by the Student Government Association with the “Project of the Year” award.While Jules & Gems Media was indeed a learning experience for the young entrepreneur, he recently accepted a full-time job offer in Raleigh and plans to focus his time and energy into developing skills in the digital marketing arena.From the blow of the trumpets beckoning the entrance of graduates, to caps in the air, across North Carolina graduation is a magical time for students taking new steps into the next chapter of their life. Commencement speaker Donald E. Godwin, a prolific Texas lawyer and Wilmington native, told Cameron School of Business Graduates, “It’s important to view this as a starting line rather than a finish line. … As you coast the world will go by you, your journey today continues past today.”For one distinguished UNCW graduate, Nicholas Charles Sweet, that journey includes a one-way ticket to Germany to work as an English teacher’s assistant in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz. Sweet, a Fulbright Scholar, had known from a young age he wanted to at least have some involvement abroad. Between visits from his French grandmother to his German heritage, he said his main “aha” came while studying in Germany.”[It came when] when I walked through the streets of Heidelberg, the city I studied in, for the first time,” said Sweet. “Being able to speak German on a day-to-day [basis], meeting other international students, and taking interesting classes, my mind was made up.”With the help of the Fulbright Scholarship, Sweet will be able to pursue long-term dreams of both living abroad and teaching English. The competitive Fulbright Scholar Program awards 8,000 grants annually in teaching, research or a combination of both. The grants include 1,600 U.S. students per year. Since its inception in 1946, approximately 370,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the program.”It begins with a rather lengthy application and a meeting with an on-campus committee who sends a recommendation to the Fulbright Program,” Sweet said of the process. “Then, a notification in January if you make it through the first round of the application. During the first week of April, the finalists are selected and notified.”While living in the International House dorm his freshman year, Sweet was introduced to UNCW’s ESL Conversation Partner program.”I had the opportunity to meet and work with students from all over the world, which was an excellent learning experience,” he said. “I came to learn that I have a passion for foreign language education and would like to pursue a career in something related to it.” Sweet said the best way for students looking to study abroad or get involved in ESL is speaking to a professor.While both Sweet and Morris are taking completely different paths, this past weekend signifies a simultaneous new beginning and closing chapter not just for the two, but for all graduates who walked across the stage, received their diploma and turned their tassels.