More than 600 graduates, along with their families, were in attendance Saturday.
Powell told them that word "spar" is an easy way to remember life goals.
"I made it from the Louisiana swamp to your TV set," Powell said. "So never let where you come from dictate where you are going."
Powell had everyone's attention when she put on boxing gloves and explained what the letters in "spar" mean to her-- set goals, follow a plan, express appreciation for others, and be resilient.
"Congratulations graduates, from me to you, go and knock em out," she said. "Soar eagles soar."
More than 230 undergraduate degrees, 176 Graduate and professional degrees, and two doctorates were awarded at the ceremony.
It’s almost time! The @NCCU Fall Commencement ceremony is just minutes away and I extremely honored to be a part of #NCCU history! #EaglePride #Eagles #NCCU17 #SOAR #ABC11 #Durham pic.twitter.com/gysDL8RUIT— Tisha Powell (@tpowellabc11) December 9, 2017