John Carroll University alumnus and four-star General Carter Ham will deliver the Class of 2013 commencement speech on Sunday, May 19. During the ceremony, he will receive an honorary doctorate degree from John Carroll University.
As one of 12 four-star generals in the U.S. Army, Ham is the only JCU alumnus to hold this title. He most recently served as Commander for the United States Africa Command, overseeing all military operations in Africa. He also served assignments in Italy, Saudi Arabia, Macedonia, Iraq and Germany, among other locations.
In a press release announcing Ham as speaker, he was quoted stating, “It is truly an honor to be the keynote speaker at my alma mater’s commencement. I feel as though I’ve come full circle at John Carroll, as it is the place where I found my faith and my wife.”
The press release also quoted JCU President, the Rev. Robert L. Niehoff, S.J. “General Carter Ham is an American hero and we are proud to call him part of our John Carroll family. Through his exemplary service and commitment, General Ham is living the mission of Jesuit Catholic education, inspiring today’s students to become great leaders who have a lasting, positive impact on our world,” he said.
Prior to attending JCU, Ham served as an enlisted infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division. In 1976, he was commissioned as second lieutenant. He holds the distinction of being the only serving Army four-star general to begin his career as an enlisted man.
Ham has collected several distinguished awards throughout his nearly 40-year career, including the Army Distinguished Service Medal and the Joint Service Commendation Medal. He was awarded the John Carroll Alumni Medal in 2010 and is a member of the University’s Reserve Officers Training Corps Hall of Fame.
Ham also spoke at JCU in May 2011 to discuss military issues in the United States. “At its core, John Carroll remains committed to the individual self-development of each and every one of its students, and I think that’s what makes John Carroll special and different than many other places,” he stated in a previous interview with The Carroll News.
In the interview, he also expressed his happiness at returning to his alma mater over the years. “It is a place that has largely shaped who I am today, and I have appreciated the opportunity to come back over the years and see how it changes and evolves,” he said.