The Department of Criminal Justice held a luncheon for their graduates and a very special one, the valedictorian on May 20.
It had been awhile since the Department of Criminal Justice, the largest department, on-campus had the honor of someone being valedictorian. So when they found out one of their very own had received such a distinct honor, it was more than just a pleasant surprise. “I looked at his transcripts and he had all A’s. I haven’t seen a transcript like that in years, said Dr. Mahendra Singh, department head.
“In my 25 years, this is the one occasion that I have been waiting for; this was uplifting news.
“I feel wonderful! It is a great opportunity for us to work harder to get more students like Dale. I want to catch students early on to provide what they need and encourage them,” he said.
Dale Smith, a California native, was the Spring 2011 graduation class valedictorian. Always wanting to have attended an HBCU, he was the fourteenth person his family to attend Grambling State University.
When asked how it felt to have the highest honor he replied, “It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had and I’m proud to represent the class.”
Smith maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his time at GSU, an achievement few get to celebrate.
Among his greatest inspirations for wanting to study criminal justice was his mother.
He explained how his mother was shot six times when he was seven years old and ever since then he’s wanted to study criminal justice.
Filled with emotions and excitement, Dale’s mother expressed how he had always been a joy to her growing up as a child and even into adulthood. She mentioned that this accomplishment was hard to put into words for her, but it gave her a great sense of pride.
“He always tells me I’m his rock, it’s a big responsibility to me. It’s very important the way he looks up to me for his strength, said Ms. Smith.
“Ms. Conley, Dr. Marianne Fisher-Giorlando and Dr. Joyce Montgomery Scott were some of my greatest influences during college, said Smith. They motivated me to succeed and to always do well in school, which ultimately inspired me.”
During the luncheon, his fellow peers and professors had nothing but outstanding words to say about their colleague and student.
“I am very proud that one of our students from professional studies is the top graduate,” said Dr. Rama Tunuguntla, dean of professional studies.
“Dale is a good role model and one of the mentors for the Swanson program. I’ve always known him to be a mild-mannered, very polite and good person,” said Dr. Montgomery Scott.
“I think he is a well-rounded student, proficient and professional, which is going to take Dale to higher heights. By seeing him accomplish such a great feat others are going to realize that they can do it to,” said Inetha Wimberly, administrative assistant for the department.
Fellow colleague and graduate student, Takellee Hunter said, “He’s motivated me to be hard-working in order to go further in life.”
Being at Grambling State University you learn a lot of lessons, one lesson in particular stood out the most in Dale’s mind, which was to never quit. As a freshman he thought about transferring when a lot of things he planned didn’t go as expected. But what he took from those experiences was to never give up and give in when things don’t seem to go your way, but instead to keep with it and stick it out to the end.
Successfully securing a job after graduation, Dale plans to start teaching in the Fall in Las Vegas. One day he hopes to research in his field of criminal justice to be able to change policies.