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An internationally respected journalist and an award-winning writer addressed approximately 2,200 graduates during Old Dominion University's 104th commencement ceremonies Saturday at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. They spoke of challenges, opportunities and responsibilities the graduates now face.

CNN reporter and host Wolf Blitzer received an honorary doctor of humane letters and spoke at the morning ceremony for graduates in arts and letters, engineering and sciences.

Blitzer, who holds degrees in history and international relations, told graduates that he did not plan for a career in journalism. But when someone offered him an opportunity, he seized it, he noted, adding that today's graduates must do the same.

"If you're not sure what's on your agenda right now, don't worry, things will fall into place," he said. "This is a time to go out and pursue your dreams. You have this opportunity right now...that's only available a few times in your life, to not settle for something and really go for what you want."

Michael D'Orso, a Norfolk-based writer who has published 15 books, including five bestsellers, spoke at ODU's afternoon ceremony for graduates in business and public administration, education, and health sciences.

His latest book, "Eagle Blue: A Team, A Tribe and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska," is set in a bleak village on the Yukon River, and
the author told the graduates about the poverty and hopelessness he found during the five months he lived in the village.

"I've seen this crisis mounting in my travels all over this country, as I've worked on one book or another-the desperation of so many compared to the opportunities for so few," he said. "You are the ones, like it or not, who are going to have to fix it," he added. "Consider it a gift that you are taking the reins at this time in our nation's history. Consider it an obligation, the obligation that comes with being among the privileged in a time and place where the underprivileged are in need of so much."

He challenged the graduates to be "prisoners of hope," which is a term found in the Old Testament.

Dr. Charles E. Horton, Sr., an internationally acclaimed humanitarian and renowned plastic surgeon from Norfolk who established Physicians for Peace, received an honorary doctor of sciences degree during the afternoon ceremony. The international medical education organization is dedicated to building peace and international friendships in developing nations with unmet medical needs and scarce resources through medical education and training, clinical care, and donated medical supplies.

Old Dominion also awarded a degree to its 100,000th graduate. Jacqueline Honaker, who received a bachelor's degree in nuclear medicine technology, was congratulated on stage by W. Frank Latham Jr., a 1956 graduate of Old Dominion who was among the first 15 students to have received a bachelor's degree from the institution.

This article was posted on: May 6, 2006

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