That excitement was felt around the world too. Watching the livestream, Otaru Victoria from Nigeria commented, “We are so proud of you.” From India, Dattu Palde extended congratulations to all the graduates.
In the Fieldhouse, keynote speaker Howze spoke to an attentive audience and shared what he’s learned through his 40-plus years of educational and professional experiences. Among the wisdom given, Howze said there will be obstacles that may make the new Dearborn graduates consider giving up on their goals — and it’s important to be true to yourself and to keep going.
Howze came to campus in 1981, only three years after Dearborn Mayor Orville Hubbard, who was known for his segregationist policies, ended his role as mayor. As a Black student, Howze said he experienced racism during those college years and thought about dropping out. As he contemplated what to do, Howze went to his eastside Detroit church, where an older woman took $5 from her change purse and handed it to Howze. She said she wanted to help because she didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. Howze reflected, “At that moment, I realized I was the embodiment of the dreams of a generation. And here I was, about to throw away the opportunity of a lifetime because I felt uncomfortable."
Howze said he gathered himself armed with "faith, fortitude, intellect, hustle and tenacity." He said, "rather than leave, I got involved in the university community, student government, got involved with student activism. I met professors like Elaine Clark and the late Bernie Klein, who pushed me and inspired me and told me what was right about me and that I could make a difference."
By staying, Howze said he got a world-class education that gave him a strong foundation for his future success. Howze realized that he could be the future — and he’d work to make the people who didn’t agree reevaluate their biases and who resisted justice efforts a remnant of the past. As Howze shared his experience, the graduates in the audience erupted into applause and cheers for the internationally recognized leader, who continues to lead efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion.
Undergraduate student speaker April Marvin, a 2023 CASL graduate, walked a different path than Howze, but she echoed the importance of action and voice. “Your voice is the catalyst to change, creating a movement, sharing your passions, and staking your claim on the future. Even if you are afraid, and even if your voice is quiet or shaky, it has immense power,” she said.