The decade may be ending, but new journeys are beginning for Clayton State University’s new graduates. Fall 2019 commencement ceremonies took place Dec. 6-7 at the Loch Athletic Center on campus.
“As this institution’s prestige and accomplishments continue to grow, so too will their effect on your graduation,” said Dr. Hynes, president of Clayton State University. “Similarly, as you go off and do extraordinary things, those extraordinary things will, from here on out, be associated with this institution.”
Activities began Friday evening as graduate students from all four of the university’s colleges – arts and sciences, business, health and information and mathematical sciences – received their degrees and were hooded.
Retired Healthcare Management Professor Dr. Peter Fitzpatrick served as the ceremony’s speaker. He left students with three tips for success in their professional and personal lives: listen, learn and embrace failure.
“Many of you will become leaders in your respective fields,” he said. “All the activities, all things you had to do to earn that degree are simply preparing you to keep learning.”
Master’s degree candidates were hooded as a symbol of completing their academic programs. The orange and blue on the hood represents Clayton State’s school colors. The collar is fashioned with a color representing the field of study in which the degree was earned––Science, yellow; Arts, white; Music, pink; Business, drab; Nursing, apricot; and Philosophy, blue.
The next morning, hundreds of students from the College of Business, College of Health and College of Information and Mathematical Sciences accepted their college diplomas at the 9 a.m. ceremony.
Student commencement speaker Jamila Rumph kicked off the morning ceremony by encouraging students to bounce back from any setbacks they face as they begin the next phase of their lives.
“Resilient people thrive and grow in the face of adversity,” Rumph said.
At the age of 16, Rumph said she became a mom was unsure of what she would do next. But through the support of her family, she graduated high school in the top 25 percent of her class. Four years later, she earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at Fort Valley State University.
On Saturday, she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
“Life is hard, and we never know when an opportunity presents itself and what it could mean,” she said. “I challenge you to find your passion; it is then you find your purpose in life.”
Guest commencement speaker Mark Wilson celebrated the graduates as “enthusiastic future leaders who will be trailblazers on their own individual paths.”
Wilson, president and CEO of Chime Solutions, encouraged the students to take the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired and create their own path of success. And he reminded them to take care in how they treat those they meet along the way and to be committed to improving their communities.
“We should not celebrate today as a finale of a lifelong goal that you’ve achieved, rather we should recognize today as the beginning of every tomorrow,” Wilson said.
He added, “You have positioned yourself, prepared yourself and have purpose. Go set the world on fire. Go out and follow your dreams. Take advantage of every break. And remember to always hold the door open for others.”
The afternoon commencement saw College of Arts and Sciences students stepped across the stage to earn their degrees.
Student speaker Tiffany Barker reminded students that earning the degree was only beginning.
“Please note that it was worth it,” Barker said. “By sitting here today we’ve already proved we were strong, capable and resilient.”
Afternoon guest commencement speaker Tasha Mosley, the Clayton County Judicial Circuit District Attorney, shared her story about how she made the decision to enter into public service after graduation. She said success comes with passion and a willingness to keep learning.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Mosley said. “What this degree does it makes it easier for you to navigate those problems in the world.”
A posthumous degree was awarded to the family of Imani Bell, a 16-year-old dual enrolled student from Elite Scholars Academy in Clayton County, who tragically passed while participating in a conditioning drill at her school. She enrolled in the fall of 2018 to work toward completing her associate degree. She was set to graduate in 2021. Her parents accepted her degree on her behalf.
As part of the ceremonies, the graduating seniors were also welcomed to become a member of the Clayton State University alumni association. Alumni Association President Crystal Billingslea encouraged the students to join the association to connect with other alumni and network.
“It is not you against the world. You are now part of a network of over 25,000 Clayton State alums,” she said. “No matter how far you go, we want you to remember this will always be home.”
View the Fall 2019 Commencement Photo Gallery