One of the highlights of Honors Week at Grambling State University was a special ceremony, where over 400 students were recognized for their academic achievements and presented with honor medallions. A New Beginning: Celebrating Our Scholars was the theme.Cardiologist and GSU alumnus Dr. Richard Rayford was the guest speaker. He began by giving a brief history of his alma mater.
Rayford said Charles P. Adams, the school’s first president, dreamed to educate children of farmers. The second president, Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, emphasized rural education. He spoke about how the academic programs have grown.
The he gave student advice on how to be successful.
He said, “Set the highest goal possible for yourself and achieve it. Whatever you do, enjoy doing it.”
Rayford said that he always wanted to be the best in what he did. If he were average when he graduated, he might not get a job.
He told students that they must possess integrity and be of good character. “How you present yourself is important,” he said.
Dr. Frank Pogue, GSU president, said Rayford was the best example of excellence of a graduate of Grambling State University.
“You are the academic elite,” he told honorees. “Don’t ever hide your achievements. Don’t listen to anyone who will tell you it is not cool to do well in school.”
One such person who believes that is Cliff Exama who excels in the classroom and on the football field.
“It is important to show that we achieve excellence on the football field as well as the classroom. When athletes participate in such programs and are recognized for being honor students, it makes others think that learning is cool,” said Exama, a senior from Miami.
Honor student Martha Phillips, a mother of six, said she participated in the honors program because she is proud of her achievements.
“I am proud to be a part of the heritage at Grambling State University. I like how Grambling recognizes excellence. This was a wonderful program,” said the senior nursing major from Monroe.
Her children and other family members attended the program to support her. Her daughter K’Myke Moses said it means a lot that her mother is pursuing her degree.
“I am inspired. She tells me it does not matter how many children you have, you can still achieve your goal,” said Moses.
Robyn Foster, a graduate student pursuing a master’s in social work, said she enjoyed the program and liked that this year the students received medallions on the stage.
“It is a good new addition for students to get their medallions on the stage. This will encourage them to attend the program,” she said.
Foster received an award for being the National Association of Social Work’s student of the year, at both the state and regional levels.
Before dismissing them, Dr. Pogue gave the honorees a president challenge. He said, “Use your excellence to pass on good things. It’s your turn to take charge. Thank you for using your excellence to create a caring community at GSU. Thank all of you for making us look good.