CHAPEL HILL – The final class of 2013 turned its tassels Sunday in the Dean Smith Center as 1,104 Carolina students became UNC alumni.

Carolina prides itself on featuring highlighting faculty to speak at its December commencements. MacArthur “genius” grant winner and world renowned concussion expert, Kevin Guskiewicz told the graduates that, in order to go far in life, you’ve got to let go of what’s comfortable.

“You have the responsibility to add continued, and yes, credibility to your degree for those who will follow you,” Guskiewicz said. “It’s time to move forward and to explore. And in the words of Raymond Lindquist, ‘courage is the power to let go of the familiar’.”

And, Guskiewicz told the graduates to always advocate for themselves, but to do so humbly.

“Learn how to effectively build a case for yourself and your mission, and you will capture the attention of the people who can take you places,” Guzkiewicz says.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt presided at her first commencement since taking over as the university’s 11th chancellor. She referenced the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela just ten days prior and the fight he put up for equality. She told the graduates to be proud to stand among such a diverse group of people.

“The class of 1898 celebrated their own graduation, but one graduate couldn’t be there,” Chancellor Folt said. “Carolina’s first woman graduate, Sally Walker Stoddard, was not allowed to take part in commencement.”

“In 1952, Harvey Beech was the first African American to graduate when he received his law degree,” Chancellor Folt said.

Carolina graduated young men and young women of many different races and nationalities on Sunday adding to its more than 295,000 alumni that have come before.