Social entrepreneur Rye Barcott ’01 will deliver the University’s spring Commencement address on May 13 in Kenan Stadium.
Before graduating from UNC on an ROTC scholarship, Barcott co-founded Carolina for Kibera through the Center for Global Initiatives within UNC Global. Carolina for Kibera is a nongovernmental organization based in the impoverished Kibera neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya. Named a Time magazine and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “Hero of Global Health,” Carolina for Kibera uses sports and public health initiatives to prevent ethnic and gender violence and to fight poverty.
Barcott and Carolina for Kibera were featured in the May/June 2004 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review, and in 2006 he received the GAA’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award. Later, in the Review’s May/June 2012 issue, he was the centerpiece of a feature about alumni regarded as change agents.
Barcott currently serves as co-founder and CEO of With Honor, a new civic organization that is helping elect to Congress a cross-partisan coalition of post-9/11 veterans. With Honor is based in Charlotte, where Barcott lives with his wife, Tracy Dobbins Barcott ’00, and their two children.
A former captain, Barcott served five years in the Marine Corps in Bosnia, the Horn of Africa and Iraq. His 2011 book, It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine’s Path to Peace, juxtaposes social entrepreneurship with military service.
“What a thrilling honor it is to be this year’s Commencement speaker for my beloved alma mater,” Barcott said. “Service has been part of Carolina’s DNA since 1789, when we were founded as the nation’s first public university. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to serve my country, and I can’t wait to be in a sea of Carolina blue in Kenan Stadium with my kids by my side feeling the love.”
Chancellor Carol L. Folt, who chose Barcott in consultation with faculty and staff on the University’s Commencement Speaker Selection Committee, noted Barcott’s dedication “to breaking cycles of violence and developing young leaders in Kenya. Rye’s out-of-the box thinking and global entrepreneurial work — ranging from creating holistic youth development programs to establishing a clinic treating thousands in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — has been recognized by the president of the United States, the World Economic Forum and international philanthropists and is taught in graduate schools around the world.”
Folt added: “I know his authenticity and example of selfless service to others, mixed with his personal humility and humor, will inspire the class of 2018 as they begin their own journeys.”
At Carolina, Barcott double majored in peace, war and defense and in international studies. In 2009, he earned master’s degrees in public administration and business administration from Harvard University, where he was a Harvard Center for Public Leadership Social Enterprise Fellow. He then returned to North Carolina and founded Double Time Capital, an impact investment firm that helped the state become second in the nation in solar power.
Spring Commencement will be held at 9 a.m. in Kenan Stadium. More at commencement.unc.edu.