Morgan Freeman beams as he receives his honorary degree. (Photo Rob Roberts)

Ursula M. Burns, chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation, delivered the 2015 keynote commencement address to Howard University students, faculty, staff and guests. Sharing insights from her groundbreaking career, Burns highlighted education as the key to her success as the first African-American female CEO to head a Fortune 500 company.

Noting the changing landscape of America and opportunities for young African-Americans, Burns urged the 2015 graduating class to use their education to pursue their dreams, lead, and make a difference in their communities.

“All of you will immerse yourselves in a world full of opportunity and challenge. What is amazing to me is that you are entering an America that my generation could barely imagine,” Burns said. “…honor the memory of those upon whose shoulders you stand today and help build a better tomorrow.”

In his speech, Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick reflected on current events and the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray. He called on graduates to uphold Howard University’s long history of community leadership.

“As Howard University graduates, we challenge you to continue our legacy of being a voice for the voiceless and advocates for the underrepresented and underserved, particularly during a time when social change is the only answer,” President Frederick said.

At the ceremony, Howard University awarded honorary degrees to award-winning actor and director Morgan Freeman, Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum, as well as philanthropists and Howard University graduates Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown.

The Howard University class of 2015 has more than 2,400 graduates, including undergraduate, graduate, professional and certification students.  This year’s graduates come from 43 states in the U.S., including the District of Columbia. Internationally, the class represents 32 countries across five continents.

To view the full commencement address, please visit: