Emotions were high as the graduating class of 2016 received their degrees from the various departments. The Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center was filled with the cheers from families of the graduating seniors in the main hall.
President Larkin opened with the address and an invocation followed by Rev. Earl Griffin. The guest speakermwas Dr. Thomas Moorehead, . Also present was the CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Johnny Taylor as well as the various deans of Grambling State University colleges.
Highest ranking graduate and valedictorian for graduating class spring 2016 was Briana Phillips with a GPA of 3.98, graduating with a BS degree in sports management. A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Phillips took a few moments to address the graduating class. “As we come to the end of our journey we should remember all the good times we had as Gramblinites, academically and socially …”
Phillips went on about her memories here such as the snow day in February 2015 and the recent flood this earlier this year. Phillips says that she learned from her experience in Grambling is, “. . . the ability to distinguish on when it’s time to be serious and when it’s time to have fun.”
Following Phillips was businessman, philanthropist Dr Thomas A. Moorehead and Vice President for worldwide talent and human resources department of Apple Inc., (Dr) Denise Young-Smith. Both were bestowed the honorary doctorate degree in humane letters for their humanitarian work in aiding their respective communities and affiliates.
Dr. Moorehead earned his BS in accounting from Grambling in 1966 and a masters in social work from the University of Michigan in 1971. He is also the first African-American to own a Rolls Royce car dealership in 2013.
His speech exemplified the success and excellence of the graduates as he told his story of starting out small but eventually building himself up and creating something for himself through his business adventures from his car dealerships to the business of hospitality. Moorehead says that, “ . . . it is never to late or too early to grow and develop.” He then discussed about his journey from ‘God’s country’ (Monroe) and his exchange with his grandfather. His grandfather supported his interest in business but warned him to build a business so as to continue his pursuit in education.
Moorehead end his address with reminding the graduating class the realities of life after school.
Out of the total of 508 graduates present, two received their doctorate’s in education, 139 graduates received their master’s in their respective field, six received their post graduate-certificates while over 361 graduates received their bachelor’s in their respected field.
Some graduates remarked their graduation experience and future plans such as Ian Wagner.
Wagner graduated with degrees in both biology and kinesiology and he said, “I felt good, I felt accomplish. I am grateful. A little bit saddened cause I got to leave but I am grateful to do something new.” The New Orleans native plans to continue his education and later build his own medical campus for therapy.
Armman Gordon received his degree in mass communication with a concentration in broadcast journalism. He had this to say, “I really enjoyed it. It was a different experience.” Armman is from Moreno Valley, CA and plans to begin his career as a film director or producer.
Jasmine Williamson, a native from Dallas, received her degree in social work with and said she was “very excited. I am the first out of my mother, father, and both grandparents to graduate from college.” Williamson will begin her career in social work and then continue her education in pursuit of a master’s degree in the same field.