Graduates celebrated during Alcorn's 2018 Spring Commencement Exercise

Scholars and family members gathered together at Alcorn State University to celebrate the culmination of their academic journeys.

The university held the 2018 Spring Commencement Exercise Saturday, May 5 in the Davey L. Whitney HPER Complex. Christy Pickering, a member of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), delivered the keynote speech.

Pickering began by speaking to the students about taking the initiative and being persistent in their search for a successful career.

"Persistence pays off," said Pickering. "I encourage all of you to stay active. Choose to remain productive and go after the career you desire. Don't ever give up. Step outside of your comfort zone and do the unexpected. Introduce yourself to companies and give them your resume. That persistence will get you far in the workplace."

After stressing the importance of being persistent, Pickering encouraged the new alumni to identify their passion. She said that being passionate would ensure career success.

"Wherever you go, make sure that you love what you do. Find your passion. When you find what you love doing, there is no holding you back. The satisfaction of doing what you love is the key to your success. Those who are passionate about their job are the most successful."

Pickering concluded her speech by motivating the scholars to find their purpose in life while helping those in need. 

"Find your purpose because it will be the reason why you get out of bed every morning. Knowing your purpose and taking a leap of faith to fulfill it is the most important thing you can do. Pay it forward by giving to others without expecting anything in return."

In his final commencement closing remarks as Alcorn's president, Alfred Rankins Jr. praised the graduates for their accomplishment and encouraged them to continue their pursuit of excellence.

"I wish you all the success in the world," said Rankins. "You have the essential tools to be successful, and that is your earned degree from Alcorn State University."

Emotions were high during the ceremony. Yneka Myers, who earned a bachelor's degree in psychology, showed appreciation for her journey. She said that becoming a graduate of Alcorn is a dream come true.

"I am so excited about earning a degree from Alcorn," said Myers. "I've been challenged and had to overcome obstacles, but those challenges made me a better student and a better person. I can proudly say that after four years, I am an Alcorn alumna."

Earning a bachelor's degree is not only a milestone for Raymond Banks, who earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication, but it also a monumental achievement for his family, as he became the first person in his immediate family to graduate from college. Banks feels a sense of pride for being the first and setting a positive example for those that will follow him.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to be a college graduate," said Banks. "Being the first person in my immediate family to earn a college degree, this achievement is a huge accomplishment for my family and I.  I am grateful for the faculty, staff, and students that have helped me become the person I am today."

The acknowledging of the Golden Class of 1968 was one of the ceremony's standout highlights, as 74 members marched in celebration of their 50th college graduation. The members were presented with golden diplomas.

Carla C. Kirkland, owner, of The Kirkland Group and board member for the ASU Foundation, Inc., presented Monticello, Mississippi native, Joy Applewhite, a psychology major, with the Award of Excellence, which includes a plaque of academic achievement and a $1,000 gift. 

Dr. Donzell Lee, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, and Rankins presented Pickering with an honorary doctorate. The Rev. Neddie Winters, president of the Alcorn State University National Alumni Association, presented Mildrette Netter-White with the Alcornite of the Year Award. White won a gold medal in the 4X100 meter relay at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico.