At the close of his graduate career at UNC-Chapel Hill, Roy Smith ’52, ’60 (MA), ’63 (Ph.D.) recalled a torrential rainstorm at the close of an outdoor commencement ceremony, which sent thousands of graduates scurrying to find shelter.
“The rains came down right before the issuing of the diplomas,” Smith said. “There was a mad rush to dry off.” Unbeknownst to Smith, he lost his diploma in the melee, and he re-traced his steps in hopes of finding the elusive, but important, piece of paper.
“The next morning, I was so embarrassed,” Smith said. “There were papers all over the place. I walked to the graduate office the next morning, and here was this smiling young lady. She asked me if I had lost my diploma.” Someone had found it, turned it in to the graduate office; a good Samaritan wanted to make sure it returned to its rightful owner. For Smith, reared in Stanly County, North Carolina during the Great Depression, that piece of paper represented an accomplishment that, as a young boy picking cotton, Smith once thought to be impossible.