More than 260 Kentucky State University graduates crossed the stage Saturday, May 12 during the 2018 Spring Commencement Convocation in the William Exum Center.
Teachers, business professionals, scientists, social workers, psychologists and future leaders of all kinds now go forth from the University, ready for the next level of success.
Entrepreneur, philanthropist and author Dr. Randal Pinkett, who received the Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Kentucky State, delivered the commencement address.
“What do you do when there is no road?” Pinkett asked the class of 2018. “When there is no path neatly laid out for you to follow to graduation? We are all, in some shape or form, trailblazers.”
Pinkett named many Kentucky State trailblazers that earned a degree on the Hill. Whitney Young Jr., Moneta Sleet, Patricia Russell-McCloud, Tom Colbert and many others were among the trailblazers Pinkett mentioned.
“What do you do if there is no road?” Pinkett asked again. “The road is made as one walks. Kentucky State grads have been making the road for the last 132 years and, today, you are counted among them.”
Alma A. Lopez Arellano, co-valedictorian, spoke about her first days on the Hill. On her first day of class, she arrived at 8:30 a.m. for her 9:30 a.m. class to ensure she wouldn’t get lost.
Arellano said she was worried her English wasn’t good enough for her professors or classmates to understand.
“Instead I found amazing professors, eager to guide me. Professors who were as invested in my education as I was,” Arellano said.
Her classmates, Arellano said, were always helpful.
“Kentucky State is truly a family, looking out for each other,” Arellano said.
Donavan J. Cecil, also co-valedictorian, said Kentucky State is the greatest university in the world because of the faculty.
Cecil also acknowledged his sister, Rhiannon Cecil, also a graduate.
“She also has a 4.0,” Donovan said. “To be honest, she’s much smarter than I could ever imagine to be.”
Donovan encouraged the graduates to strive for greatness, reach for their dreams and to never give up.
Nearly 10 students finished their academic careers with a 4.0, Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II said.
After closely examining the transcripts of each of those graduates to determine the valedictorian, two students (Arellano and Cecil) had the same number of hours and the same GPA.
President Brown announced other interesting facts about the class of 2018: the class is comprised of 20 veterans, the average age is 27, the youngest graduate is 21 and the oldest graduate – Marilyn Bailey – is 71 years old.
A posthumous degree was awarded to the family of Julian A. Bond, a student who passed away before finishing his degree.
Longtime Kentucky State employee and Hall-of-Famer William Graham was honored by the University and the Kentucky State University Board of Regents. Graham will have served 29 years at the institution prior to his retirement in June.
United States Congressman Andy Barr was in attendance.
“The smart and talented individuals that make up the class of 2018 have all taken different paths, even across international waters, to attend Kentucky State University,” Barr said. “I commend you for your dedication to lifelong learning.”
Musical guest Calesta “Callie” Day brought the house down with musical selections “My Tribute” and “For Every Mountain.”
President Brown honored and acknowledged the golden graduates of the class of 1968, celebrating their 50th anniversary.
President Brown gave each graduate their first $2 as “Swag Surfin’” by F.L.Y. filled the William Exum Center gymnasium. Graduates reacted with laughter and excitement.