2022 Winter Commencement completes fall seniors’ journey at Alcorn

As she received her bachelor’s degree in social work, Fayette, Mississippi native Tameka Herrington sensed the symbolic weight that her Alcorn State University degree holds.

“Receiving this degree allows me to explore a world of countless opportunities,” said Herrington. “I can now pursue many amazing and distinctive professional opportunities that weren’t available to me before graduation. Going to Alcorn helped me to realize my purpose and goals.”

Herrington was one of nearly 300 graduates who received degrees during Alcorn’s 2022 Winter Commencement Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium. Dametha Sanders, global head of Employee Lifecycle at Atlassian, gave the ceremonial address. Atlassian is a software company that helps teams worldwide unleash their potential through collaborative technological tools.

Sanders shared three principles for the graduates to use as they soar beyond Alcorn’s “Shades of giant trees.” The first was saying yes to significant opportunities that could accelerate their trajectory.

“Say yes to no regret moves, which are moves where the only thing holding you back is fear,” said Sanders. “This is important because if you give yourself too much time to think about the decision, you’ll find every reason to say no. Saying yes can be a frightening response but saying yes to those no regret moves will always be rewarding.”

Having a strong and diverse support system was Sanders’ second tool for success. She encouraged the graduates to select a solid core of individuals they could lean on for advice and support along their ascent.

“These are the people who love you enough to celebrate your success but are also real enough, to be honest. Everyone should have a personal board of directors, and who you choose to hold this important position in your life is critical. Some will be friends who have known you like no one else. Others will be people who understand your work and your work ethic. Some may even be people who challenge you to push beyond your boundaries. Surrounding yourself with good people will be one of the most important things you will do in life, so choose wisely.”

Sanders’ final critical insight was overcoming doubt and being confident in the journey ahead.

“There will be enough people on this journey who will doubt you, and you should not be one of them. The moment will come when you know that you know. So don’t let people take that away from you by focusing too much on what they think because you can’t control that. Focus on what you can control, which is your performance. Work hard and stay true to yourself, and know that someone else’s version of perfection cannot be your goal. Proceed as though success is inevitable. You are ready, you are enough, and you stand on the shoulders of giants. The world is waiting for you. Make your mark and make us proud.”

Following her speech, Dr. Marcus Ward, vice president for Institutional Advancement/executive director of the ASU Foundation, Inc., announced and thanked Sanders for gifting the University with a $25,000 scholarship endowment. Dr. Ontario Wooden, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, then presented Sanders with Alcorn’s highest degree, the Doctorate of Humane Letters, an honorary degree awarded to those who have distinguished themselves through humanitarian and philanthropic contributions to society.

Alcorn President Dr. Felecia M. Nave heaped praise upon the new alumni for reaching the culmination of their undergraduate and graduate studies.

“Today is a day that has been years in the making,” said Nave. “You deserve all the praise and accolades for completing this step in your educational journeys. Graduation is a monumental moment. Sit in it and enjoy this moment because you have earned it. You have been resilient and tested in ways others have not. Yet, you made it. Your determination and commitment to earn your degree is to be applauded.”