NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 300 students received advanced degrees Friday during Tennessee State University’s first graduate commencement, but not before hearing a strong appeal from the leader of one of the nation’s top civil rights organizations calling on the graduates to be agents of change.
“By completing your education and achieving at this level you have prepared yourselves to be the hopes and dreams of tomorrow’s generation,” said Dr. Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Society cannot now hand you anything that you cannot handle.”
Brock, the youngest person to lead the 106-year-old civil rights organization, said the current wave of issues facing the nation will only be solved with everyone involved and playing their part.
“Our nation and communities are faced with economic imbalance, issue of race, unemployment and hunger. It is incumbent on you to recognize and ensure that all Americans have access to quality education, jobs and a fair legal system,” Brock said. “Become proactive and not reactive in addressing the issues going on in the country.”
Saying that success is achieved “by us helping one another,” Brock akin her remark to an African parable of a migration of a herd of elephants trying to cross a river, where the bigger elephants line themselves in the form of a bridge to help the smaller elephants get cross.
“So too as you have succeeded, do not forget to get back in the water to help somebody make it to the other side. Never forget that life is about others,” Brock told the graduates, adding, “The future is in your hands; you are going somewhere, don’t stop now.”
Earlier, before address the graduates, the NAACP leader extolled the “remarkable leadership” of President Glenda Glover, describing her as an “extraordinary woman doing great things at Tennessee State University.
“This is a remarkable woman who is doing great things at this university and molding students who are exemplifying the Tennessee State University motto of “Think, Work, Serve,” she said.
Brock’s remarks highlighted the first part of a dual 2015 spring commencement ceremonies. On Saturday, Memphis, Tennessee, Mayor AC Wharton, will give the commencement address when nearly 1,000 undergraduate students receive their degrees during a ceremony in Hale Stadium.
Those graduating Friday received master’s degrees; education specialist degrees, and doctorate degrees including Ed.D., and Ph.D.
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About Tennessee State University
With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 45 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.