"The Coz," a United Nations official, a renowned neurosurgeon, and two spiritual people who have dedicated their time to helping others will offer their varied words of wisdom at local college commencement ceremonies this month.
Bill Cosby will speak to Cheyney University's graduating class at 10 a.m. May 12 on the campus' Historic Quad. The comedian has drawn both praise and criticism in recent years for his "call-out" speeches.
Cosby has toured the country leading events under the title "A Call Out With Bill Cosby." In the controversial appearances, he has blamed some blacks for poor parenting, criticized the popular use of slang, and generally told poor blacks to stop blaming others for their problems.
Cosby's opinions, while drawing support from some, have sparked strong criticism from those who find them to be elitist, most notably from University of Pennsylvania professor Michael Eric Dyson, author of the best-selling book Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
At West Chester University, Kevin M. Kennedy, the United Nations coordinator for humanitarian and development activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, will speak at commencement at 10 a.m. May 12 in Farrell Stadium on South New Street.
Kennedy, a 1969 WCU graduate, served in the U.S. Marine Corps until 1993, with tours of duty in Vietnam, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf War, the Los Angeles riots, and Somalia. In his post-military career, he coordinated U.N. humanitarian efforts in Somalia, the Balkans, Iraq and Sudan.
The Rev. David Wilkerson, founder of Teen Challenge, a worldwide Christian drug and alcohol program, will speak at Valley Forge Christian College's commencement on May 4 at 3 p.m.
Wilkerson made headlines in February 1958 when the then 26-year-old preacher from Philipsburg, Pa., interrupted the murder trial of seven young gang members in Manhattan to speak to them about their salvation. Wilkerson started Teen Challenge that same year, a now worldwide organization that combats teen alcohol and drug use across the globe.
At Lincoln University, Benjamin Carson will be the commencement speaker on May 6 at 1:30 p.m. on the track field. Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins since 1984, made medical history in 1987. Leading a 70-member team through 22 hours of surgery, he successfully separated Siamese twins joined at the head.
Sister Mary Scullion will speak at Immaculata University's commencement on May 20 at 1 p.m. at the Valley Forge Convention Center. Scullion is one of the cofounders of Project H.O.M.E., the Philadelphia-based organization that provides supportive housing, employment, education and health care to the homeless.
From its inception in 1989, the organization has grown to more than 400 units of housing and three businesses in the region that provide employment for the formerly homeless.