NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recognized hundreds of fall graduates through its second virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday. More than 700 undergraduates and graduates were honored during the program, held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Yamiche Alcindor, a renowned journalist and White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, delivered the keynote address. Before her speech, TSU President Glenda Glover greeted the graduates and welcomed alumni, staff and guests watching the program livestreamed on all the major social media platforms.
“It is my distinct honor and privilege to extend heartfelt congratulations to you,” Glover said. “I applaud you for having reached this extraordinary milestone in your academic career. It does not matter how long it took you, you are being honored today because you are graduating. You have endured. We honor your sacrifice. You have overcome obstacles, you have multiplied your talent, you increased your resources.”
Alcindor, noted for telling stories about the “intersection of race and politics,” and directly questioning President Donald Trump on race issues and the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on black people, encouraged the graduates to pursue their life’s passion and purpose, stay the course no matter the setback, and learn to do the right thing even when no one is watching.
“Be assured that as you receive your degrees today, you are already fulfilling your ancestors’ wildest dream. Continue to strive and walk in that reality,” Alcindor said. “Make a career of doing that thing that drives you. Maybe you are graduating without a job or without the job you thought you would get. Maybe you are graduating with a lot of student loans and you are anxious about what comes next. Give yourself space to develop and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.”
A contributor for NBC and MSNBC, who often appears on shows like “Morning Joe,” “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” and “Meet the Press,” Alcindor told the graduates to brace themselves for setbacks as they pursue their various careers, citing her own experience early on as a young journalist.
“When I started my career in journalism, the setbacks came very quickly, and they will come for you too,” she said. “Each of you will experience moments when people will challenge the very premise of your very existence and your pursuits. Maybe some will criticize your career choices, condemn whom you choose to love, demean your cultural background. I say, press forward.”
Jay Bobinger, who received his undergraduate degree in agricultural sciences, talked about his TSU preparation that he said will propel him into a very bright future.
“In my experience at TSU, I found a campus faculty that set me up for success in the workforce with patient and intentional mentorship and connecting me to resources to achieve my goals,” said Bobinger, who is from Kingston, Tennessee. “I once read that life makes way for those who know where they are going, and I would say the same is true at TSU.”
Cydney Smith, of Nashville, who received a bachelor of science degree in public health, was equally optimistic about the future.
“I owe Tennessee State University for the endless memories and learning experiences that have happened to me in these past years,” Smith said. “The staff and professors, that I grew close to, pushed me constantly to excel in school work even when I thought I would not see the finish line.”
At Today’s graduation, Jason Archer was presented with the Academic Excellence Award for achieving the highest grade point average in his class.
Like in the past, deans of the various colleges presented candidates to President Glover for the conferring of degrees, as the graduates’ names scrolled across the screen.
Among those presented for conferring of degrees were four university administrators who received their doctorate degrees in education leadership. They included Dr. Arlene Nicholas-Phillips, executive assistant to the president and liaison to the TSU Board of Trustees; Dr. Phyllis Danner, director, Research and Sponsored Programs; Dr. Anita McGaha, director of disability services; and Dr. Corrine S. Vaughn, director, Research and Sponsored Programs.
During the ceremonies, several past TSU graduates made appearances with words of congratulations and encouragement for the graduates. Among them was Olympic gold medalist Ralph H. Boston.
Julien Dooley, a member of the Honors College, who received his bachelor of science degree in commercial music, entertained his fellow graduates with a rendition of “Escalondo” by noted classical guitarist and composer Jaime Zenamon.
To see video of the virtual commencement, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PH8iqdqMHM&feature=youtu.be
Department of Media Relations
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About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.