NCCU grad copied speech from YouTube

North Carolina Central University
May 18, 2011 6:51:55 AM PDT
A North Carolina Central University law school graduate faces possible disciplinary action after copying a commencement speech almost word for word from a YouTube video.

Preston Mitchum - a former NCCU class president and current president of the Student Bar Association - delivered this year's commencement speech. Many called it awe-inspiring.

"It was funny. I enjoyed it. I was entertained," said student Jeffrey Wilkins.

But for some, the speech was also vaguely familiar. That's because it was mostly the work of Binghamton University graduate Anthony Corvino who made much the same speech at his graduation last year.

Click here to watch Corvino's speech

Corvino's performance has been popular on the YouTube website and has been watched thousands of times.

Law school administrators say Mitchum didn't credit Corvino when he copied his work and that's plagiarism. Now, a disciplinary committee is considering whether to punish him.

"We are deeply saddened and disappointed that our student engaged in plagiarism. At North Carolina Central University, we completely disavow this behavior by any of our students in any capacity. To our knowledge, this is the first time someone has replicated remarks for one of our Commencement exercises. We hope this incident will serve as a teaching moment for our students," said NCCU Provost Kwesi Aggrey in a statement to the media.

But Mitchum has said he never intended to mislead the audience and simply forgot to credit Corvino. Corvino told ABC11 Tuesday that Mitchum's not the first to copy his speech.

"He had no intention of plagiarizing and he apologized to me for making the omission. I, personally, love the idea that my words inspired him and he used them. I treat it as an honor to know I made that kind of impact," said Corvino.

But some of Mitchum's fellow eagles don't see it that way.

"It went under the assumption that he wrote the speech and that they were his words. So that's plagiarism," said Wilkins.

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