Retired Col. Jennifer Riley Collins gives resounding speech about high achievement during Alcorn’s 2019 Fall Commencement

The end of the college experience for Alcorn State University’s fall class of 2019 has come to a triumphant conclusion.

A total of 278 students were celebrated as they received bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the university’s 2019 Fall Commencement Exercises Friday, Dec. 6 in the Davey L. Whitney HPER Complex. Alcorn alumna, retired Col. Jennifer Riley Collins, gave an impressive speech about breaking barriers and never settling for less.

“You are setting the standard by completing your mission of earning an education,” said Collins. “You have been prepared to do more, so the concept of doing just enough or just right doesn’t apply to you. You must do more because the reality of this world requires your best.”

Collins let the newest Alcorn alumni know that there is a world of people that seek the aid of future leaders such as them.

“There are children that need your guidance and preparation for the world that’s waiting for them. Some people can’t afford to have access to healthcare. There are immigrants on this soil, hoping to achieve their dream of finding a better life. These groups of people and their circumstances are why you are required to break barriers so that you can be of service to them.”

The road ahead will have many challenges, but Collins encouraged the graduates to rise above and conquer the obstacles and disregard potential distractions.

“Don’t let anyone delay you from your purpose. Ask yourself, will this move me closer to what God intended me to do? It’s okay to say no to potential distractions. Take steps forward every day, and knock on the doors of opportunity.”

Because a quality institution has prepared them, Collins reminded the graduates of the power they possess.

“To whom much is given, much is required. You have been prepared to fulfill your purpose in life. You were planted here at Alcorn to grow and stand tall amongst the rest. I charge you to break barriers and take the seats that rightfully belong to you.”

Graduation is a moment that all of the students worked hard to accomplish. Jalon Thomas, a Birmingham, Alabama native who received a bachelor’s degree in computer networking, spoke about the grind of college and how it takes dedication to reach the finish line.

“Graduating is a momentous occasion,” said Thomas. “A bunch of blood, sweat, and tears went into reaching this moment. Accomplishing this goal required an open mind, creativity, and imagining earning the best results for you.”

Although happy to move to another phase in life, Kisha Danial, a business administration from Saint Lucia, Caribbean, will miss the friendships she gained on campus.

“It is exciting to celebrate all of the years of hard work and great achievements,” said Danial. “It is bittersweet because I have to leave this beautiful environment that helped shape me into the woman I am today. I will miss my peers and the times we shared at Alcorn.”

President Dr. Felecia M. Nave congratulated the graduates. She motivated them by expressing her confidence in their abilities to achieve success.

"Thank you for the opportunity to serve you," said Nave. "We know that you will go forward and represent Alcorn with great pride and character."