The 2016 Oglethorpe University Commencement Ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 14 at 9:00 a.m. on the academic quadrangle of the campus. Oglethorpe President Lawrence M. Schall and Board of Trustees Chair Ceree Eberly, chief people officer at The Coca-Cola Company, will preside over the commencement ceremony for approximately 200 graduates.
During the ceremony, Oglethorpe University will bestow the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on Derreck Kayongo, chief executive officer of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, who will address the graduating class.
“At Oglethorpe University we encourage our students to ‘make a difference’ and to become active global citizens,” said President Schall. “I can think of no better role model than Derreck Kayongo, an entrepreneur who has demonstrated the power of one person to envision positive change in the world and then make it happen. We’re proud to honor one of Atlanta’s newest community leaders.”
Mr. Kayongo was named CEO of The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Inc. in December 2015. He and his family fled a civil war in Uganda and settled in Kenya as refugees. He then found his way to the U.S. where he became a successful entrepreneur as the founder of the Global Soap Project, a program which takes partially used soap from hotels, recycles them into new bars of soap, and redistributes the new bars to vulnerable populations around the world. Mr. Kayongo has won several awards including CNN’s Top Ten Heroes award in 2011 and the prestigious MAXX entrepreneurship award. His highest accolades include receiving the Certificate of Congressional Recognition by Congressman John Lewis and accolades from Noble Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his work with Global Soap. Prior to founding the Global Soap Project, Mr. Kayongo worked for the American Friends Service Committee as Program Director of the South African Peace Education program until he joined Amnesty International as Regional Director. He continued his humanitarian and human rights work at CARE International where he served as Regional Field Coordinator for the South East Region in the policy unit. Mr. Kayongo has been featured as a TEDx speaker and at several corporate and university forums. He recently coauthored “The Roadmap to Success,” with Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Ken Blanchard. Mr. Kayongo has also been a guest on several news programs including CNN’s Amanpour and BBC’s Focus on Africa. Currently he’s at work on a new book, scheduled to be released in 2016, that focuses on how he found his calling in life as a former refugee. Mr. Kayongo is a graduate of the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Additional speakers will include student leaders in the graduating class, as well as Chris Rylands ’01, president of the Oglethorpe University National Alumni Association. Further details may be found at commencement.oglethorpe.edu.