Alumna Africa Miranda tells graduates to Step Up, Step Out and Shine
By Hazel Scott/ASU
Internationally known actress, host, digital personality, and alumna Africa Miranda spent Friday, Dec. 2, delivering a rousing commencement speech to excited Alabama State University graduates during the in-person fall commencement ceremonies at the ASU Stadium. Her message to the new graduates was to be the captain of their destiny.
“Step Up, Step Out and Shine. This is a mantra that I live by. It means that you are not leaving your life and future to chance. That you are actively working to learn and to grow and that you are a light for yourself and everyone around you…You are in these seats today because you stepped up; however, your education doesn’t stop here. Always strive to keep a student spirit and continue to cultivate your curiosity at all costs.”
Miranda, who served as Miss Alabama State University 1997-98, addressed graduates across two in-person ceremonies that included a celebratory walk across the stage by graduates and a live conferring of degrees.
Miranda told to the graduates that they have one job and that’s becoming the creative director of their lives. “Become the captain of your fate…The concept of stepping out is a concerted effort to change the trajectory of your life with small yet decisive action.”
Miranda’s speech touched on failure and how that plays into success. “…Failure is part of the process and it doesn’t define you or your ability to be successful in the future…You are the author of your own story, you have all the control…Success is not always about talent and skills; most of it is due to perseverance. It’s the one who stayed the course, who continued after countless missteps and rejections…failure is just a small footnote in the scheme of things.”
Shining moments, the speaker said, are the result of commitment and consistency. “If you continue to step up and step out, I guarantee that today will be one of the many shining moments of your lifetime. To shine, you must have strategies in place to silence negative voices...to know they hold no weight… to shine is to walk with your head held high in appreciation of all that you are.”
Miranda also advised the graduates to be active participants in their own lives, to be proactive and committed to doing the work to make their lives better, to be game changers and to make time in their lives for quiet, beauty, creativity and fun. She also admonished them not to chase other people's dreams.
Miranda praised ASU for providing her and the graduates with the skills to be competitive and successful in their careers. “…There is so much that you have received here at ASU that will show up in surprising ways throughout your lifetime. But at this moment, celebrate an achievement that you have worked so hard for. At this moment, embrace the dreams and greatness that the Marion Nine had for us many, many years ago and step up into it proudly,” Miranda said.
Miranda concluded by sharing an important point to success. “Embrace the pivot…when you realize that life is not going as planned, that we are not making continued process, the pivot is necessary. It doesn’t mean you are ending your dreams…it’s time to sit back and reevaluate, a time for reflection and research…to reinvent yourself, to adjust.”
She challenged the graduates to live boldly, to be of service to self and others, to honor ASU's legacy by writing their new chapter, and to Step Up and Step Out by building a life uniquely their own.
“Harness your life and recognize your power and transform yourself. Your higher self is waiting.”
The Long-Awaited Walk
The Fall Class of 2022 sat in the middle of ASU Stadium facing the stage during the commencement ceremony. Some sat quietly while others vigorously waved to parents and friends. Large video screens captured screams, smiles and emotional moments as this year’s graduates prepared to receive their diplomas and embark on the next chapter of their lives.
“The Class of 2022 is walking in the legacy of so many before them,” President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. said. “ASU gave you the tools to succeed. So, now it’s your turn to keep the ASU legacy alive and shape our nation’s destiny, as well as your own.”
Between the morning and evening ceremonies, ASU conferred degrees on nearly 300 students.
The ASU Commencement ceremonies were live-streamed on Facebook/ASU.