The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff held its 148th commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon at the Pine Bluff

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff held its 148th commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon at the Pine Bluff

Convention Center Saturday afternoon.

As friends and family of graduates filled the arena, the UAPB combined concert bands played several numbers to entertain the guests.

The UAPB Vesper Choir was also on hand to provide vocal selections during the event.

Interim Chancellor Calvin Johnson welcomed everyone who came to show support for the graduates.

Johnson told the cap-and-gown clad students, “You are about to become official representatives of UAPB.”

Donald Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, provided a greeting that thanked Johnson for his service as interim chancellor and the crowd gave Johnson a round of applause to show their appreciation.

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) delivered a commencement address meant to inspire and encourage the graduates. His message was one of perseverance and overcoming struggle and strife.

Pryor spoke of several American heroes who overcame the odds to become successful. He talked of politicians such as President Obama, Bill Clinton and himself as having had times in their careers when they lost and could have given up.

“You see, it’s failures that make us stronger,” Pryor said as he tried

to motivate the graduates to keep trying no matter what life throws at them. He told the students that they may face more challenges in their futures but they should persevere through whatever life has in store for them.

“Life has unexpected twists and turns,” Pryor said.

Pryor ended his speech by assuring the graduates that, “UAPB has given you the knowledge you need to make a difference.”

Before the class of 2013 walked on stage to receive their diplomas, two gentlemen were presented with honorary degrees for their life’s work and the support they have shown for UAPB.

State Rep. Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV is a Pine Bluff native, former state senator and senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Pine Bluff.

Carl L. Barnett Sr. is president of the Barnett Auto Group in the Houston area and an active member of the UAPB National Alumni Association among many other accomplishments.

There were a variety of degrees awarded to more than 300 students, and the crowd cheered loudly as each name was called. For the graduates, the commencement was truly a celebration of achievement and hard work.