Looking Back And Ahead: Meet Our Student Commencement Speakers

students hold up wolfies in the air

Graduation — a time for celebration and reflection.

Each year, thousands of students turn their tassels at PNC Arena, marking the end of their journeys at NC State. But in many ways, it’s only the beginning.

We caught up with some Humanities and Social Sciences students who were chosen as fall 2019 commencement speakers in their respective departments. They come from far and wide, each offering a unique perspective as members of the Wolfpack.

bryan adams and girl wearing red shirts at basketball game
Bryan Adams was selected as student commencement speaker for the Department of History.

Bryan Adams

Major: History

Hometown: Pasadena, TX

Biggest highlight from my time at NC State: On Feb. 2, 2019, my wife and I had tickets to attend the men’s basketball game between Virginia Tech and NC State. It was Military Appreciation Day, and we had free tickets in the nose bleeds. We won a free upgrade courtesy of Stub Hub and got floor seats. We had the best seats in the house for one of the worst games ever when NC State lost 47-24. It was an unfortunate loss, but it was still a great date!

Advice to my freshman self: You can do this. Put in the best effort you can and everything will work out.

Plans after graduation: I plan to get a master’s degree in accounting and earn my CPA.

headshot of carly jane chambers
Carly Jane Chambers was selected as student commencement speaker for the School of Public and International Affairs.

Carly Jane Chambers

Majors: Political Science and Interdisciplinary Studies – Women’s and Gender Studies

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Biggest highlight from my time at NC State: Studying abroad twice! As a sophomore, I studied abroad in New Zealand studying sustainable ecology and as a junior, I studied abroad in Ireland at University College Cork. 

Advice to my freshman self: Take action on everything you want and understand that sometimes the work which seems the most menial is the work which matters and can positively impact the community around you the most.

Plans after graduation: I plan on joining the Peace Corps to educate youth on HIV/AIDS prevention, safe sexual practices and STD prevention. Afterwards, I plan on attending law school and would like to become a lobbyist for environmental or women’s rights. 

headshot of Andre Corbett
Andre Corbett was selected as student commencement speaker for the Department of Communication.

Andre Corbett

Majors: Communication and English

Hometown: Goldsboro, NC

Biggest highlight from my time at NC State: Interacting with all my professors and instructors across both my majors. They challenged me, guided me, supported me, and most importantly, they put up with me. I got to find out more about them, their families, goals, dreams and just how much they care about us. I’m grateful for every opportunity  they’ve allowed me to earn. 

Advice to my freshman self: Take this opportunity seriously. Put your academics first, maintain strong relationships with your educators, and above all, network, network, network. That is going to be key to whatever you’re doing after undergrad, whether that entails starting a career or going to graduate school. 

Plans after graduation: I will be starting law school in fall 2020. Thus far, I’ve been accepted to Campbell Law (Woohoo!) and I am still waiting to hear back from UNC Chapel Hill and NC Central before I decide which school to attend. 

headshot of aislyn henderson
Aislyn Henderson was selected as student commencement speaker for the Department of English.

Aislyn Henderson

Majors: English and Communication

Hometown: Smithfield, NC

Biggest highlight from my time at NC State: Studying abroad in Botswana during the summer of 2019. Studying abroad through NC State allowed me to learn while doing one of the things I love most: seeing and experiencing more of the world. Studying abroad challenged me to step out of my comfort zone, learn more about myself and try new things. It gave my studies at NC State global roots and expanded my perspective in a way that few experiences have.

Advice to my freshman self: Seek opportunities that seem scary or uncomfortable because they are the ones that you will learn the most from. It’s okay to not be perfect at first because you are here to learn. You don’t have to know everything, but you do have to try and be willing to learn by doing, even if that means failing a little along the way.

Plans after graduation: In March, I will be moving to Armenia through the Peace Corps. I will be living there for a little over two years, working as an English teacher, focusing on increasing language teaching efficacy, incorporating student-centered, inclusive, and equitable teaching practices, and increasing community engagement in educational endeavors.

headshot of Tahjanay Ruth Hogan
Tahjanay Ruth Hogan was selected as student commencement speaker for the Department of Social Work.

Tahjanay Ruth Hogan

Major: Social Work

Hometown: Hartford, CT

Biggest highlight from my time at NC State: Seeing the personal and professional growth within myself as well as my classmates.

Advice to my freshman self: It’s going to get better.

Plans after graduation: I plan to apply to as many jobs as possible and further explore how I can use my degree to help my community.

headshot of Barbara Loeffler
Barbara Loeffler was selected as student commencement speaker for Interdisciplinary Studies.

Barbara Loeffler

Major: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Hometown: Almont, MI

Biggest highlight from my time at NC State: Bringing together all my coursework in developing my capstone project.

Advice to my freshman self: Do what you love, work hard, be kind and enjoy each day.

Plans after graduation: Hopefully starting a nonprofit to implement my middle school language arts curriculum designed to improve interpersonal communication and empathy.