Larry R. Ellis, representing the 5th Congressional District of the University system of Georgia’s Board of Regents, and a retired four-star U.S. Army general, was the key note speaker for the 2013 ASU commencement exercises.
ALBANY — Some 325 degree candidates, proud in their gowns and mortarboard hats, were the objects of attention at the 2013 Albany State University commencement exercises at the Albany Civic Center Saturday.
One by one, at the announcement of their names, the candidates stepped forward from the ranks of study programs such as business administration, health and physical education, history, psychology, political science, criminal justice and marketing.
“Today, you will join a remarkable community of ASU alumni who have served as leaders and agents of change,” said Arthur N. Dunning, ASU interim president. “Yes, you will encounter obstacles, but always remember that you are prepared to conquer any challenge. Excellence is inevitable. We have full confidence in your ability to achieve. In keeping with the tradition of Albany State, we expect you to operate in your utmost potential.”
In addition, degree candidates were addressed by Larry R. Ellis, 5th Congressional District, Board of Regents, University System of Georgia, and retired four-star general in the U.S. Army.
Ellis commented on the choice ASU students had made to attend a historically black university, saying that he had made the same choice, but not as “freely,” since educational opportunities for African-Americans were far less open when he attended college. He spoke of “connections” to those who had sacrificed to help the graduates achieve their goals and of the sacrifices the graduates should be prepared to make for their families in the future.
“Connections give you a window,” Ellis said, “not only into the lives of others, but also a mirror into your own life.”
Ellis asked for a show of hands from those graduates who were the first of their family to attend college. He declared the response as 25 to 35 percent.
“Perhaps the most important part of being the first to attend college is that you have the power to assure you will not be the last,” Ellis said. “Attending college is a transformation, not just for the student but for the entire extended family. Once you break an age-old cycle, you begin a wonderful new cycle. Since I graduated, every member of my family since that time has graduated. Every family member works hard to assure the chain is not broken.”
Following the conferring of degrees, a formal ceremony was conducted, commissioning Apollo Abrams as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Abrams, who participated in the Army ROTC program at ASU, also received her Bachelors certificate in her chosen field of business management.
When all the graduates had received their certificates and had once more been seated, They were given permission to switch the tassels of their mortarboard hats from the right side to the left, signifying their official completion of their programs. The graduates were then asked as a group by Joycia C. Ricks, president ASU National Alumni Association, to raise their hands and agree to be inducted into that organization.
“I’m very excited,” said graduate Amanda Crystal after the event. “I’m looking for my parents and my family. I just want to hug my husband and my kids right now.”
Crystal, who graduated with a bachelors certificate in psychology, said she wants to earn her Masters certificate at Troy State University.
Tierra Coleman plans to stop off at Kennesaw State University north of Atlanta for her Masters in Marketing, but her real destination is Dallas.
“I’ve never been to Texas,” Coleman said, “but I’m sure I want to live there.”
Chanceton Scott-Bennett, a graduate in early childhood education, has a job lined up as a 4th grade teacher at Northside Elementary School in Albany.
“It’s been a long journey,” Scott-Bennett said, “but I finally got here.”