The Distinguished Graduate Award is given to a graduate of the Tarboro Colored High School or the W. A. Pattillo High School, living or deceased, who has or had good standing as a citizen in the governmental jurisdiction where she or he resides (or resided) and at the ascending governmental levels.

The awardee must have demonstrated achievements in the years since graduating from high school to include their achievements and ongoing contributions to the local state and national communities as outlined in the specified selection.