Radiant Smiles and Warmed Hearts at ASU’s 308th Commencement

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Pres. Ross presents diploma at Fall Commencement

 

By Hazel Scott/ASU

The skies may have been gray, but the atmosphere was pure excitement during Alabama State University’s 308th commencement ceremony at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome on Friday, December 1.

The University held two formal, in-person graduation ceremonies: one at 8:45 a.m. and the other at 1:45 p.m.

The featured speaker for both ceremonies was ASU alumnus Anthony Brock (’99), the co-founder and Head of School at Valiant Cross Academy in Montgomery.

Brock brought the audience to its feet when he recognized a special set of people in the audience.

“For all those who birthed one of these graduates, stand up. Those who watched them take their first steps, stand up. Those who went without so they can have, stand up. Those who rode a jalopy so they can have a nice car to come to Alabama State, stand up. And my favorite, whoever whooped one of them growing up, stand up,” he said through continuous handclaps.

During his speech, Brock touched on several topics, ranging from Alabama State University graduates competing globally, to encouraging graduates to be consistent, to have a sense of urgency in things that they do, to be intentional about everything going forward and to be open-minded to receive opportunities that come their way.

A legacy Hornet, Brock described ASU as being “the best HBCU.” He spoke with great pride about the University giving his parents and other family members their first opportunity to attend college.

“No other school came knocking on the door; it was Alabama State University who opened their doors to my parents.  I’m so appreciative of Alabama State University. I’m a product of the ASU’s Early Childhood Center. I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Alabama State. I’m Bama State born…and when I die, I’ll be Bama State dead,” he said.

Brock returned to two phrases most frequently in his speech—Black excellence and commitment.

“The concept of Black excellence challenges negative stereotypes and showcases the remarkable achievements of Black individuals across diverse fields. Breaking through historical barriers and systemic discrimination, Black excellence represents the triumph of talent, perseverance, and determination…So, graduates walk with excellence going forward.”

He emphasized that Alabama State University taught him the value of being an alumnus.

 “I take pride in O’ Mother Dear…and I have never stepped into a room thinking someone is better than me because I’m a proud graduate of The Alabama State University.  Remember graduates, you come from a University where History is Made.”

As for commitment, Brock regard a personal story about his commitment to his late father.

“I have always cut my father’s hair ever since sixth or seventh grade. When my father passed last year, at the funeral they asked who would cut my father’s hair. My mom looked at me and said, ‘You’re going to cut it. You’ve always cut it and you are going to cut it now’…I went back the next day and cut his hair. I wanted to honor my commitment to him. I want you graduates to be committed…your word is your bond.”Most dreams, Brock told ASU’s soon-to-be alumni, do not appear in your life without hard work, struggle and sacrifice. “It all starts with commitment.”

Brock challenged the class of 2023 to find what makes them passionate and to be pioneers in their fields, always trying something new.

“I do believe that there is that Marion Nine resilience in you. No one can see your footprints if you travel on roads everyone else has traveled. Discover your own path and become historymakers.  Graduation was the ceiling you were going for but make that ceiling your floor and keep going. Don’t stop.”

ANOTHER HISTORY-MAKING CELEBRATION

As the Alabama State University Class of 2023 lined up for the processional, the graduates savored their few final moments together before embarking on the next chapter of their lives.

There were radiant smiles and perhaps a few nervous butterflies.

As the time for the procession neared, a sense of excitement grew palpable. Friends gathered for photos. The graduates chanted and laughed. As the academic procession got underway, the crowd of families and friends awaited to get a glimpse of ASU’s new historymakers.

As graduates walked across the stage, they were met with thunderous applause and shouts. Large video screens captured screams, smiles and more waves as the graduates prepared to receive their diplomas.

One proud mother could be heard over the crowd, yelling passionately to her daughter who waved her diploma proudly, “We did it!”  

Over the two ceremonies, the University conferred 296 degrees: 195 undergraduates and 101 graduates.

FINAL  REMARKS FROM THE PRESIDENT

ASU President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., told the graduates “you are an incredibly talented group who embody the academic excellence that is Alabama State University’s hallmark. Alabama State University is better for you having been here. I know you’ll go on to do great things, in many fields of endeavor, through many different pathways.”

The ASU Commencement ceremonies were live streamed and recorded for viewing on the University’s YouTube channel.