CONWAY, SC - Coastal Carolina University graduates are exactly what the world needs, according to commencement speaker and doctoral candidate Leigha Peterson.
Peterson addressed the graduating class of 2019 - more than 1,200 students - during three separate commencement ceremonies at the HTC Student Recreation and Convocation Center May 10-11.
"Whatever you are, put it out there," she said, "because it is better than good enough. It is exactly what the world needs!"
Edward Veara from Dennis, MA, 02638, earned a Bachelor of Arts in intelligence & national security studies.
Peterson shared bits of her journey with the graduates, which have taken her from Coastal Carolina's shores to the Antarctic to southern Brazil. She faced several naysayers along the way, she said, but "respectfully ignored them," and her choices led her to an incredible job opportunity that she revealed for the first time in her address.
"Today, I am proud to share with you all that I have accepted a position to serve this country in the intelligence community concerning matters of national security," she said. "I think I made the right choice in CCU!"
Peterson was more than the commencement speaker during the ceremonies. At the conclusion of her address on Saturday, she became the first student in Coastal Carolina University history to earn her Ph.D. in the inaugural hooding ceremony.
As the first student to earn all three of her degrees from CCU (B.S. in 2011, M.S. in 2014 and Ph.D. in 2019), Peterson's time at the University was uncharted territory.
"I didn't have a map, an example of what my path could look like," she said. "But it just might be that the greatest adventures are uncharted territory. It's easy to be intimidated. But if we doubt our abilities and if we choose to believe the 'no's' we hear, then we might end up watching someone else live the adventure we were too afraid to take. Without us, no one will lead, discover, invent or innovate. You and me, we are the future!"
Coastal Carolina University is a dynamic, public comprehensive liberal arts institution located in Conway, just minutes from the resort area of Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Coastal Carolina University offers baccalaureate degrees in 73 major fields of study. Among CCU's 25 graduate-level programs are 21 master's degrees, two educational specialist degrees, and the doctorates in education and marine science: coastal and marine systems science. The most popular undergraduate majors are marine science, management, exercise and sport science, communication and psychology. CCU boasts a growing array of internship, research and international opportunities for students, as well as numerous online programs through Coastal Online.
More than 10,600 students from across the country and around the world interact with a world-class faculty, and enjoy a nationally competitive NCAA I athletic program, an inspiring cultural calendar, and a tradition of community interaction that is fueled by more than 160 student clubs and organizations.
Coastal Carolina University was founded in 1954 as Coastal Carolina Junior College and became an independent state university in 1993.