School of AREAS Celebrates its Fourth Annual Graduate Recognition Ceremony, Honors 126 Graduates

The School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences (AREAS) graduating class of 2016 celebrated a night of honors and achievements during the School’s fourth annual Graduate Recognition Program.

The event, held on May 2, in the Ray Johnson Assembly Center, Extension and Research Complex, recognized the achievements of 126 students in the departments of Advanced Technologies, Agriculture, Human Sciences, and the Center for Biotechnology. The assembly center was filled with graduates and their families as well as faculty, staff and students. Denzel Weatherspoon, senior, agribusiness major, presided over the ceremony and extended greetings to everyone in attendance.

The celebration began with the processional of administrators, department chairs, and graduating seniors.

The program continued with selections by the ASU Men Chorale, led by Charles Wesley, conductor. Junior agriculture economics major, Rodricka Allen, gave words of encouragement to the future graduates. Dr. John Igwebuike, vice provost for Academic Affairs and Student Records, offered greetings on behalf of President Alfred Rankins Jr., faculty, staff, students and friends. He congratulated the students on their achievements and reminded them to continue to move toward their goals.

“This is the beginning of more blessings and more prosperity to come, and as you encounter the challenges that life throws at you along the way there is one thing you need to remember: never never never give up!,” said Igwebuike.

La’Kendra Jones, sophomore, child development major, introduced keynote speaker, John E. White. White, an alumnus of Alcorn ’85, serves as the regional vice president for Sodexo in the Midwest. He also serves as national chairman of Sodexo’s African-American Leadership Forum and is a member of the School of AREAS Dean’s Advisory Council.

White greeted the students and offered words of encouragement about the upcoming race toward their futures. He expressed his enthusiasm and thanked Dr. Ivory W. Lyles, dean and director of land-grant programs, School of AREAS, and the administration for allowing him to deliver the keynote address.

“To the 2016 graduating class of the School of AREAS and to the esteemed faculty and staff you are reflecting the vision of Alcorn, this Saturday marks the start of your race,” said White. “You’ve completed the final preparation for the most challenging race, and it’s much more than a sprint.”

The speaker gave students words of encouragement to push forward even through the challenges of life. Graduation, he explained, is the end of one chapter and the start of another. He asked the students if they were brave enough to run the race on the road to success.

White challenged the students to value the hard work and effort they have put into their final days as undergraduate students.

After the keynote address, Dean Lyles, Dr. Jermiah Billa, interim chair, Department of Advanced Technologies, Dr. Victor Njiti, interim chair, Department of Agriculture, and Dr. Keith McGee, interim chair, Center of Biotechnology, presented awards and memorable gifts to students with the highest grade point averages. Dr. Carrie Ford, chair, Department of Human Sciences is on family leave and was unable to attend.

In his closing remarks, Dean Lyles thanked the students for their achievements.

“I truly believe that great institutions are built by great faculty and students, and I thank you for your loyalty to the purple and gold, and for raising the banner of Alcorn. It has been my honor to serve as your dean,” he said.

The program concluded with the audience signing the Alcorn Ode. A reception followed in the Conservatory Room of the Ecology and Natural Resources Building.

Deja Harris, student media intern, contributed to this story.