School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences honors graduates at seventh annual Graduate Recognition Program

Alcorn State University’s School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences hosted its seventh annual Graduate Recognition Program April 25 in the Ray Johnson Assembly Room of the Extension and Research Complex. The event celebrates the academic achievements of students within the Departments of Agriculture, Advanced Technologies, and Human Sciences, as well as the Center for Biotechnology.

Betina Brandon, Alcorn alumna and manager of Diversity and Workforce Development at Nuclear Headquarters, Entergy, Inc., served as the keynote speaker. During her speech, Brandon offered the graduates words of encouragement and shared with them her life’s trajectory.

“You have to be open to what success looks like and not allow other people to define success for you,” she said. “Choose how you get to where you want to get. I prepared myself because I knew what I had to do and was passionate about where I wanted my career to go. It wasn’t because I was smart, but it was because I was persistent.”

Brandon charged students to go forth in their endeavors. She challenged them to use the tools that they’ve learned and to prepare themselves professionally. She also encouraged graduates to write their goals down, find a way to give back to their communities, and to always reach back and help the next person.

Following the address, Dr. Jeremiah Billa, interim chair, Department of Advanced Technologies; Dr. Victor Njiti, chair, Department of Agriculture; and Dr. Martha Ravola, interim chair, Department of Human Sciences, presented students with certificates of academic excellence. Dr. Chunquan Zhang, assistant professor of Agriculture, represented on behalf of Dr. Keith McGee, director of the Center for Biotechnology. Graduate and undergraduate students with the highest cumulative grade point averages in each department received framed awards.

Worlanyo Segbefia, a graduate student from Ghana, West Africa, expressed his enthusiasm for receiving his second masters and maintaining a 4.0 average. “I feel great and very proud,” he exclaimed. After receiving his first masters in Workforce Education, Segbefia had the chance to work in agriculture and fell in love with it. With high hopes and determination, he returned to the classroom to pursue a second master’s degree in agronomy.

Kiera Bridges, a graduate student from Hazlehurst, Mississippi, is thrilled that her hard work is finally paying off. She was recognized for having the highest cumulative grade point average in biotechnology. She advises other students to “study hard, pray, and keep positive people around to motivate and encourage you.” After graduation she plans to begin her career as a pharmaceutical scientist.

Dr. Edmund Buckner, dean and director of Land-Grant Programs, provided closing remarks. He encouraged graduates to keep learning and to get all of the knowledge that they can get. “Do not grow weary in proving yourself,” he said. “You only get one life to live, so make it count. Be sure to always work hard, help others, and give back to your alma mater.”

For more information, contact Dr. Gwendolyn Lucas-Gordon, director of Alumni and Staff Development, at 601.877.6253 or [email protected]. For more information about the School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, visit