When I was vice president for student affairs at Albany State University, our president, Dr. Portia Holmes Shields, would shout out some of the seniors so the audience could hear about the class. It is a tradition that I have continued at commencement (along with having faculty and staff who have kids graduating to present their degree on stage- we had 2 this year). So here is the script for this year as I had a few people ask about it.

The Prez

You in the audience today need to know who is graduating, their accomplishments, their legacy, their futures. I have done this as a president now for 15 years. I just want all of you to get a sampling of the excellence seated before you.

When you hear you name or group, please stand as I acknowledge you.


· As a class they completed over 35,304 hours of community service- up 21% from last year and a new class record!

· First in your family to graduate from college.

· Four year graduates

· Three year graduates

· Persisters- If you are completing college today after starting more than 10 years ago.

· 2 years ago we had a national story about our physics program. This year we have what we believe is a record 14 graduates with degrees in physics.

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· This award dates back to the 1950s when it was called the Ernest W. Armstrong award. Beginning in 2013, it became the William Sutton prize, named for Dr. William Sutton who graduated from Dillard University in 1953 and won the Armstrong Best All Around student award, who as a student was class president for 3 years, football captain and science major, who later taught on the faculty for 20 years and served as president of Mississippi Valley State University for 10 years.

· Let me introduce our recipients.

o Joshua Williams. One of our first MC Lyte scholars and first student to be a valedictorian and Sutton prize winner. Will begin as an analyst with Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City, Utah.

o Adrianna Jackson. Basketball and track champion. SGA and senior class chaplain. Mime ministry. CEO of Roiiyal Ink.

o Joseph Caldwell. Freshman class president, 2X SGA president, Mr. Dillard, and Alpha chapter president & brother of the year. Will be in the Relay graduate program while teaching in KIPP New Orleans.

o Raven Morris. Sophomore class president. Mock trial captain. Law firm employee. Will be attending law school on full ride at the University of Tennessee.

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o Madison Torry. Junior and senior class president. PODUS director. Creator of the InspireHER awards. Will be attending law school at Loyola University.


· SGA President Kennedy Watson. Her mom, Karlyn Greene, met her dad, Michael Watson, at Dillard their Freshman year. Kennedy actually lived in the same residence hall her freshman year as her mom did. They were married in Lawless chapel and return today to see Kennedy graduate.

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· Anjelica Gomez. Her mom graduated from Dillard in 1984, her sister in 2013, and she does today. Anjelica will begin at the University of South Florida this fall in the masters of early childhood education.


· Several graduates will be heading into the education field:

o BreAwna Walker. Admitted to the Relay graduate program and will begin in August with the Alief Texas ISD as a pre-k teacher.

o Kevin Coleman. Admitted to the Relay graduate program and will begin with KIPP New Orleans.

o Kelli Upton. Admitted to Relay and will begin with Elan Academy.

o Akheem Dowl, Kiahla Duncan, and Joshua Thomas. Accepted into the Xavier University Norman C. Francis Masters in education teaching residency for the 2019 cohort.

o Jaques Clinton. Moving to Montanita, Ecuador to earn a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.

· Kaywine Ellis. Begins as an RN/staff nurse at University Medical Center.

· Yasmeen Williamson. Graduated in 2 ½ years, began in Houston this March as a Youth Advocate and Residential Counselor for victims of sex trafficking with emotional and behavioral trauma, and in the process of becoming a correctional officer.

· Adrienne Harper. Will begin career as a tax analyst with Koch Industries in Atlanta.

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· First full cohort of our LEAD pre law program has already produced a valedictorian and 2 best all around. In addition we have:

o Destiny Tucker. Will begin law school at Touro College of law in New York.

o LaDoria Cole and DeAquanique Jackson. Will begin at the Southern University law center.

· First year of our Pre-Health program to ramp up graduates entering these fields. It too has been wildly successful:

o Cia Brooks. Will attend Meharry Medical School College of Dentistry.

o Asia Powell. Will be attending the Keck Graduate Institute for their Masters in Business and Science Program.

o Sydney Brown. Will attend the University of South Alabama College of Medicine for her MD degree

o Majada Hancox. Will attend Howard University College of Pharmacy

o Nicholas K. Harris. Will attend Liberty University for Masters of Arts in Medical Science

o London Gulyard. Will attend Life University Chiropractic School

o Daniel Reid. Will attend Keck Graduate Institute Masters of Science in Medical Device Engineering

o Krishuna Mickens. Will attend California Baptist University- Masters of Science in Kinesiology Program

o Mary Dillon & Arienna Miller. Will be attending pharmacy school at Xavier University.

o Danielle Raphael. Will attend Washington University in Saint Louis for the masters of physical therapy program.

o Anissa Duncan. Will attend UCLA in the masters of nursing program.

o Justin Griffin. Will attend Cal State Long Beach for the master of science in Biochemistry, and is part of their RISE MS to PHD program.

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o Mikanna Adkins. Will enroll in a masters of veterinary medicine at either Tuskegee or Ross University.

· Haleigh Collier. Will begin this fall at the University of New Orleans for a masters in electrical engineering.

· Daralyn Fulton. Will attend Florida A&M University with a full ride scholarship for a PhD Biomedical Engineering

· Kailyn Hale. Will be attending the University of Illinois at Chicago for the masters of social work program while interning with Better Birth Outcomes, assisting at-risk pregnant women in the city of Chicago

· Mikyala Moore. Will be attending George Washington University to receive a masters in criminology.

· Gabrielle Landry. Will be attending Washington University in Saint Louis for the master of social work program.

· Olanrewaju Olafuyi. Will be attending West Virginia University in the chemistry Ph.D. program with graduate teaching assistantship.


· Tracey Mwenesi. Daughter of volleyball coach Nancy Sikobe. Enlisted in the US Navy and her ship date is September 12th.

· Tyler Bastian. Son of Dr. Kevin Bastian, director of student support services. He is weighing offers from UNO and UL Lafayette for a masters in engineering.

Larry Hunter. Graduating today with a chemistry degree but a year ago missed a semester due a stroke which left him temporarily paralyzed from the neck down. But here he is today, graduating.

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  • Trene Winchester. A mother to 3 boys ages 5, 6 &7 years old. Her 6 year old has autism and although he has adversities, he along with his brothers have inspired her to continue my education. At 27 she was afraid to apply to college after being out of high school for so long. She had a brain tumor removed in May 2011 and then thought she wouldn’t be able to maintain college and my health so I put it off again. She applied to Dillard in January of 2016 and inspired by her boys to maintain a 3.1 GPA. This fall she will be attending The University of New Orleans in the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program.
  • Jasmin Bindom. Diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome (TENS) May 2011. It is a rare disease that causes burns both internally and externally. She was a 100% SJS TENS, the worst case, and has undergone 68 surgeries, including one in the past couple of weeks. SJS TENS is frequently misdiagnosed and most patients died without knowing the cause. Fortunately, Jasmin survived after being in a coma from May through July 2011. She could not walk, talk or eat without the assistance of modern technology. She completed courses in December, is working, and now a graduate of Dillard University.

Written by

7th president of Dillard University

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