Doors open for Alcorn State graduates

Published 12:04am Sunday, May 12, 2013

LORMAN — College is a mix of sleepless nights, long hours studying and memorable moments that help define a person.

But all of that is for naught if a person doesn’t take what they learned and apply it in the real world.

“Today, doors of opportunity have been opened for us, but it’s up to us to walk through them,” Salutatorian Rosetta Knight Futrell told the graduates Saturday at Alcorn State University. “Let’s not stop here, but continue to excel to higher heights.”

Futrell was one of the 674 Alcornites who received degrees Saturday, a graduating class whose ages ranged from 21 years old to 62.

Getting through college while living a full life could often be a challenge, Futrell said.

“Despite the challenges, we have made it and for that we should be proud,” she said.

But that wasn’t done alone. Futrell thanked especially Alcorn’s professors for holding students to a higher standard.

“They made us better students by not accepting excuses, no matter how good they were,” she said.

And in the end, because of that experience, Alcorn is a place where not only students but families are built up, Futrell said.

“Alcorn is more than an institution of higher learning,” she said.

Valedictorian Kenneth Gibson echoed Futrell’s words, nothing that the college education of one person requires sacrifices on the part of family as well as instructors who are willing to work with students.

“We salute our instructors who have helped and encouraged us to overcome the obstacles along the road of knowledge and who have been so patient with us during all these years,” he said.

But just as the students have forged an identity together as Alcornites, after graduation they would walk out as individuals rather than as a unit and must strive to improve the world, Gibson said.

“We must strive to give as well as to get,” he said. “We must work well at the job we are given.”

The school bestowed an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on National Urban League Chief Executive Officer and former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial.

Morial reminded the students of the choices and courage of past Alcornites, including Medgar Evers, Michael Clarke Duncan and Alex Haley.

“You are standing on the shoulders of great men and women who came before you,” he said.

Morial told the graduates they have the choice to go out and do great things and to have compassion on those who were left out and unable to have the opportunities they did.

“Have the courage to do what is right, the courage to do what is strong and the courage to he courageous all the time,” he said.

The school also bestowed a posthumous degree on actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who attended ASU, and honored the class of 1963, which recently finished a capital campaign that raised $93,000 for the school.

Alcorn’s graduates Saturday represented students from 17 states and five foreign countries.