Alcorn State University recognizes class of 2020 with virtual commencement ceremony

Nothing will stop Columbus, Mississippi native Tyler Wilson from taking the necessary steps to becoming a medical doctor, not even the COVID-19 pandemic. His dream motivated him to earn his degree in biology/pre-medicine from Alcorn State University.

“I believe in turning my dreams into my reality,” said Wilson. “My lifelong dream of becoming a medical doctor has not yet become my reality. Even though this virus has altered the course, my destination remains the same. In life, adversities and hardships will always come, yet if we are persistent, we will achieve our goals.”

Wilson is one of nearly 500 hundred dedicated students that were celebrated for completing their academic studies during Alcorn’s first-ever Virtual Commencement Ceremony Saturday, May 2.

The graduates acknowledged the university’s commitment not to let this milestone for the class of 2020 go unmarked. De’Shane Frye, a New Orleans, Louisiana native who earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, applauded his alma mater for honoring them during this unprecedented time.

“Alcorn has gone through great lengths to make students feel comfortable during this weird time,” said Frye. “With the school holding graduation virtually, I feel it is a step in the right direction to give the class of 2020 closure.”

Alcorn has become synonymous with building character and preparing students for success. Sydney Pulliam, a Kansas City, Missouri native who earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, credits her experience at the university for preparing her for success beyond campus.

“Alcorn molded me into the scholar and person I am today,” said Pulliam. “I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and gained so much confidence in the process.”

The Golden Class of 1970 made history this year with 119 participants, making it Alcorn’s largest class to receive golden diplomas. Mississippi State Senator and Golden Class member Albert Butler expressed his pride in his classmates and their contributions to Alcorn.

“We, as a class, feel like we are a part of Alcorn and the progress the university has made toward helping minorities that identify with HBCUs,” said Butler. “Because we still feel connected to our alma mater, we are some of the biggest contributors to the ASU Foundation. We love and appreciate what Alcorn and other HBCUs stand for.”

Jessica Hayes Williams, a board member for the ASU Foundation, Inc., presented Lois Winn, a Sacramento, California native who earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, with the Award of Excellence, which includes a $1,000 check and a plaque of achievement from the Foundation. Winning this award is in line with the standards that Winn set for herself when she entered college.

“My accomplishments make me feel proud,” said Winn. “I set high expectations and goals for myself when I entered college, and my accomplishments make me feel that I have achieved what I set out to do.”

Alcorn State University President Felecia M. Nave offered words of encouragement to the graduates and applauded them for achieving this step in their educations. She assured them of their ability to rise above challenges to accomplish their future endeavors.

“Although COVID-19 has changed the way we traditionally celebrate this occasion, I try to look for the silver lining, and I encourage you to do the same,” said Nave. “This pandemic has revealed our resilience and innovative spirit, which are true to the Alcorn way. I am confident that you will take what you’ve learned at Alcorn and apply it to the world. You have consistently studied hard to be vested with the knowledge, skills, and values that you will need for life. Thank you for the privilege and opportunity to serve you.”

A recording of the virtual ceremony is available on Alcorn’s YouTube channel and social media pages.