Countless Smiles, Reflection and Celebration Blanket Commencement

News Date

By Hazel Scott/ASU

On a sunny Friday morning on the college greens of Alabama State University, the head of Circular Economy at Amazon, George Bandy Jr.,  delivered a message of having courage and genius of a vision to 415 spring graduates during ASU’s 303rd  commencement on Friday, May 7, at the ASU Stadium.

Bundy, who addressed the graduates across two ceremonies, was the keynote speaker for the in-person ceremony, which included a celebratory walk across the stage and a live conferring of degrees.  The convocation had live and prerecorded elements.

Bundy told the Class of 2021 that having courage and genius of a vision can make real change in their lives.

“Genius is talent set on fire by courage. It’s an amazing thing that happens when a  powerful, educated,  passionate, committed, enlightened, and creative graduate from The Alabama State University begins to stand up and make commitments to their vision. ASU is built on the courage and genius of a vision.  ASU is the global entity it is today because of the fortitude of nine freed slaves from Marion, Alabama. These co-founders and original trustees had the courage and genius during difficult times to raise $500 to start the journey where you are today,” Bundy said.

Bundy asked the graduates as they make​ the transition from students to alumni to support ASU in its mission of providing excellence in education for future leaders.

'I want this class to be the first class to be 100 percent committed to giving back to Alabama State University. So, I'm asking in the first year to commit to at least giving the same amount of $500 that started this institution," Bundy said. "The Marion Nine had the vision to see that you would need this institution to be great. Courage and genius lie in your heart and no so much in your head.".

Bundy concluded by encouraging the new graduates to use the lessons they’d learned and the values they’d developed at ASU to have a positive effect on the world.

“Today we gather to affirm the courage and genius of the 2021 graduating class of The Alabama State University…Young scholars and future leaders as you go into the world remember if you plant honesty, you will reap trust. If you plant goodness, you will reap friends. If you plant humility, you will reap greatness. If you plant, perseverance, you will reap contentment. If you plant consideration,  you will reap perspective. If you plant hard work, you will reap success. And if you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.  Congratulations​,​” ​B​undy said.

Strength of Community

President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. said spring Commencement is an extremely important event for all its graduates and their families and that both ceremonies underscore the strength of community.

“We could not let this special day go by without recognizing the many achievements of our newest Alabama State University alumni,” Ross said. “I like to tell this class how proud I am of you. You truly have been resilient. When we think about where we were a year ago and we look at where we are today, the history books will talk about a class that was dedicated despite all odds and despite a pandemic to succeed and achieve. And I cannot be prouder of you as students of Alabama State University and your dedication to all of our protocols we put forth to try to maintain a safe campus.”

As the Class of 2021 prepared to receive their diplomas, there were radiant smiles and perhaps a few nervous butterflies as they savored their few final moments together before embarking on the next chapter of their lives.

“I challenge each of you to strive to do the impossible, strive to leave legacies … but above all, I challenge you to strive for greatness,” Ross said. “Because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re preparing for. And, that’s something to be excited about.”

To safely celebrate the Class of 2021, ASU adhered to CDC  guidelines -- all graduates and their guests were required to wear masks before entering the ASU Stadium and practiced safe distancing once in the Stadium.