NC Central University’s 104th Commencement speaker has a familiar message for graduating Eagles this weekend, and it’s one that never gets old: Believe in yourself.
“You can enter any environment,” said the speaker, Brandon McEachern. “And it is respected, only when you respect yourself. Know who you are. You are powerful.”
Growing up, his environment was Greensboro, where he saw firsthand the “food deserts” and unhealthy eating options that inspired him to do something about it after he graduated from NCCU’s Mass Communication and Theatre programs in 2005.
In 2013, McEachern founded Think Broccoli LLC, a company that brings awareness to a variety of issues by maintaining and increasing sustainability and executing it within black communities.
Food insecurity drives many of the Think Broccoli’s initiatives.
“The fact of a little boy or girl not knowing what they’re going to eat at night raises my ultimate concern,” he said. “How can they not know if they’re going to eat at night? That’s why food and security are at the forefront of our actions in order to give back.”
The issue of not having healthy options to eat in low-income communities has always bothered him.
“Do we stop to think about the fact that a McDonalds is in close proximity to rural communities? However, a Whole Foods is generally located 8-10 miles away.”
He added that Think Broccoli allows people to volunteer in their communities and in return earn a free ticket to go to the company’s Broccoli City Festival in Washington D.C., which celebrates its 10th anniversary next year.
“We’ve had MIGOS perform – rest in peace, Takeoff – but we want our people to have the opportunity to go to our events despite their financial leisure, “ he said, “which I think is powerful.”
At his festivals, McEachern hosts conferences that present educational, career, and development opportunities.
McEachern recalls he chose Mass Communications as a major during his time at NCCU because it allowed him to express his entrepreneurial endeavors in a way that could “never be wrong.”
“It allowed me to articulate my goals based upon visions in a proper way,” he said.
McEachern said he’s excited to come home to NCCU, a place he still thinks about often..
“I have so many vital memories that have shaped my perception of NCCU, such as walking from Chidley to Eagleson – just to study of course.” McEachearn said, laughing.
It’s also a place that helped define the concept of Truth and Service for him, and he lives it out to this day: “Ultimately, to give back and help the community.”
Saturday’s baccalaureate ceremony in McDougald-McLendon Arena begins at 9 a.m. followed by the graduate and professional ceremony at 2 p.m
Both ceremonies will stream live on NCCU’s website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Story by D’aja Harrison
Campus Echo Staff