Fall 2020 Virtual Commencement
Below is a transcript of the commencement ceremony.
Stage party enters to Pomp and Circumstance.
Ashley Chisolm, President of the Faculty Senate:
As President of the Mississippi University for Women Faculty Senate, I welcome you to the Summer Commencement Ceremony and hereby proclaim it officially convened.
As the mace has been a symbol of authority since the Middle Ages, the mace which I carry today is a symbol of this institution and bears the inscription: "We study for light to bless with light." The simple and direct message confirmed here is that as we become enlightened through our pursuits and gain knowledge, we will in turn use our understanding, knowledge, and ability to improve the world.
During the ceremony, the Mace will rest on the table at which John McCaleb Martin drafted the bill creating this institution 136 years ago to remind us of our accomplishments and our specific responsibility to “bless with light.”
Please stand for the National Anthem, previously recorded by the MUW Chamber Singers at the Spring 2019 Commencement ceremony.
Lydia Holland, President of the Student Government Association:
Greetings to all of the students, members of the council, faculty, staff, and our lovely guests joining us from near and far for this special occasion. Welcome to the Fall 2020 Virtual Commencement. I am Lydia Holland and I am serving as the 108th Student Body President. It is indeed an honor and privilege to stand before you all and proclaim my praises to the Class of 2021 on this accomplishment, even as we all try to find a sense of normalcy in a world of chaos.
When you began your journey at MUW, whether you were a traditional or a non-traditional student, you had a specific goal in mind — obtaining your degree in order to transform your dreams into a reality. You had a vision and a plan. Along the way, there were many accomplishments matched with distractions, small wins in difficult courses, thoughts of withdrawing and even times when you just couldn’t find the motivation to keep going. You even faced difficulty completing your senior semesters as the classroom you once knew shifted to a completely different format. Nevertheless, you saw it through. Tears in your eyes, but you still saw it through. Worry filled your mind, but you still saw it through. And today, marks the reward for your strength shown and beginning of an even greater journey that’ll require more — that life is the one you create after undergrad.
After today, it’ll finally set in that you are closing one chapter and about to start a whole new one. But, before you do that, I want to challenge you. The challenge is simple: clear your mind of worries about the future and begin this new chapter with an optimistic mind and heart of courage. I’m giving you this challenge because oftentimes as one chapter ends and another one begins, there’s always a bit of nervousness that creeps in. But I know because you are an MUW OWL, you have a powerful driving force inside of you, once unleashed, can make any vision, dream, or desire a reality.
Life after undergrad will have its good days and bad days. Days filled with happiness from your big first time car or house purchases. Days filled with gratefulness after landing a job in the career that you are truly passionate about. Even days where you’re care free because you don’t have to meet an 11:59 deadline. It will also be met with difficulty, though. Days filled with stress from your job. Days when you don’t like yourself anymore. Days when you have problems at home. Lastly and certainly the one I dread the most — Days when you’re met with even greater financial responsibilities. But on those days of difficulty, I want you to keep on going, because things will work out for you in the end. You must be encouraged, no matter what’s going on around you. Regardless if you’re told no, keep going. Regardless if, you’re denied or things come back declined, keep going.
You’ve made it this far and will continue to persevere as long as you keep your mind and heart in the right place. Everybody goes through difficult times, but it is those who push through those difficult times who will eventually become successful in life. Don't give up, because this too and all of the other trials shall pass. Congratulations, again, on a job well done, and thank you for this opportunity. Stay safe and farewell to all of you owls.
Special Comments and Introduction of Stage Party
Nora Miller, President of Mississippi University for Women:
Thank you, Lydia, for your remarks.
Today we honor our graduates as they join the Long Blue Line. The W was founded to provide educational opportunities to an underserved population. Today, The W is celebrated as a coeducational 21st Century university, grounded in and remaining true to the values of our founding. The W’s tradition of excellence is nationally recognized. U. S. News and World Report ranks The W as one of the top 20 public Southern regional universities and a best value. Washington Monthly has consistently ranked The W as a top master’s university, as well as a Best Bang for the Buck. We celebrate these recognitions, but the best and most enduring measures of this university are its graduates and the mark they will make on this state, this nation, and the world.
Today I want to invite you to pause and reflect on the great legacy of The W. I encourage you to look forward to what comes next for the university, but, most important, what comes next for the graduates we celebrate today. We are grateful to the leaders of the state of Mississippi who support higher education: the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, the Commissioner of Higher Education, our Governor, the state legislature, and to our alumni and friends.
I would like to introduce the members of the stage party. I will start with those on the front row and then the back. Please stand as I call your name.
Ashley Chisolm, President of Faculty Senate
Dr. Scott Tollison, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Lydia Holland, SGA President
Then on the back row:
Amanda Clay Powers, Dean of Library Services
Dr. Tammie McCoy, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Dr. Marty Hatton, Dean of the School of Education and Director of Graduate Studies
Dr. Marty Brock, Dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies
Dr. Brian Anderson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
The outstanding faculty and staff of The W are known and respected for their excellence and commitment to the success of our students. While they are not here with us physically, they are with us in spirit, celebrating this day. Today would not be possible for these graduates without the love, support, and funding provided by some other very important people. Today we also honor parents, spouses, grandparents, children, and other family and friends of today’s graduates. As these graduates join the Long Blue Line, I would like to recognize our alumni. The women and men who have graduated from The W in every decade of our history are legendary for their dedication to this university. My fellow W alumni are here with us in spirit this day. Typically, our physical commencement ceremonies are dignified and (well, at least we attempt to) follow the appropriate protocol. The Class of 2021 is remarkable. You have finished your academic experience like no other class has, and the virtual ceremony will take whatever form you wish, wherever you are participating.
While the stage party here will adhere to standard protocol, our graduates and their family and friends are encouraged to make all the joyful noise that you please. Your celebration will not interfere with that of the next person whose name will be called.
Dr. Tollison will come forward to make several special announcements.
Dr. Scott Tollison, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost
As our Deans recognize our graduates, you will hear terms such as summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude. This recognition is reserved for those who currently have at least a 3.5 MUW and cumulative grade point average on their undergraduate academic work for their first baccalaureate degree.
Congratulations to our honor graduates.
Conferring of Degrees
Dr. Scott Tollison:
Wherever you are, would all candidates for a degree please stand? President Miller, I am honored to present the members of the graduating class.
President Nora Miller:
Thank you, Dr. Tollison.
By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning in Mississippi, I confer upon you the degree for which you have qualified with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereto.
Will the candidates please be seated?
Dr. Scott Tollison:
The deans will announce the candidates for degree. Graduates, please stand as your name is called.
Dr. Brian Anderson, Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education:
President Miller, the following students are receiving the MASTER OF FINE ARTS degree in the College of Arts and Sciences:
Julia Vanstory Miller
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF ARTS degree in the College of Arts and Sciences:
Ansley M Dale
Markayla Alexis Duck, CUM LAUDE
McKayla Rae Hannah
Jaisha M Perkins
Lisa M Shaw
President Miller, the following student is receiving the BACHELOR OF MUSIC degree in the College of Arts and Sciences:
Michelle Skye Collins
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF SCIENCE degree in the College of Arts and Sciences:
Keyarra Blakney, CUM LAUDE
E’Twana LaShelle Johnson
Kristen La Trena Lowery
Courtney Ann Lynn, CUM LAUDE
Charles R Price
Annette Jeanine Shinn, MAGNA CUM LAUDE
Vakiayra Tajae Stasher
Cody Scott Westbrook
Dr. Marty Brock, Dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies:
President Miller, the following student is receiving the MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION degree in the College of Business and Professional Studies:
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF APPLIED SCIENCE degree in the College of Business and Professional Studies:
Cassandra Denise Calmes
Kelsey N Fortenberry
Megan Loague, MAGNA CUM LAUDE
Virginia Loague, CUM LAUDE
Yvette Lashune Mangum
Autumn Rivers Mattox, CUM LAUDE
Shaneka Christine Moore
Gena A Williams
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION degree in the College of Business and Professional Studies:
Briann Nicole Benson, CUM LAUDE
Anthony Dewayne Blakney
Melissa Ann Blaylock, CUM LAUDE
William Isaac Collins, CUM LAUDE
Norma Marie Depriest
Sydney Alexis Dollar
Jazlyn Simone Douglas
Myneka N Frazier
Gissel Guadalupe Guzman
Mikaela Paige Hodges
Angelica V James, SUMMA CUM LAUDE
Tyler A Jones
Latasha Denise Merritt
Ashley N Morgan
Timira S Murray
Rhonda L Palmertree, CUM LAUDE
Alona Kabria Sanders
Colby T Sanders
Alecia J Shack
Miranda Angel Starks
Jimme Lee Steverson
Leteshia S Weathersby
Dasha La’Sondra Williams
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES degree in the College of Business and Professional Studies:
Thomas H Darnell
Frankie D Hill
Brittney Jannice Jefferson
James Shelby Lann
Michelle N McGill
Courtney M Moore
Shetamarah Shante Willis
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF SCIENCE degree in the College of Business and Professional Studies:
Suriah Sheneice Hawkins
Alexa Marie Hunt
Neely Juliann Jenkins
Samantha Monique Johnson
Amber Senay Milton
Yolanda Bernice Parson
Mallory G Pratt
Ashton A Rucker
Jasmine Lashae Spearman, CUM LAUDE
William Samuel Thompson
Dr. Marty Hatton, Dean of the School of Education
President Miller, the following students are receiving the MASTER OF EDUCATION degree in the School of Education:
Kaley Johnson Cummings
Caitlin Stanfield Maroon
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF SCIENCE degree in the School of Education:
Hannah Cathryn Evans
Madison Brooke Falls, CUM LAUDE
Olivia Ross Goff, MAGMA CUM LAUDE
Caroline Susan Grafe, CUM LAUDE
Julie Nichole Lowrey
Shannon Nabors, CUM LAUDE
Megan Elizabeth Parks, CUM LAUDE
Courtney Elizabeth Poole, CUM LAUDE
Clarice Lashay Richardson
Morgan Elizabeth Spotts, CUM LAUDE
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF UNIVERSITY STUDIES degree in the School of Education:
Valeria Lynn Prisock
Dr. Tammie McCoy, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences
President Miller, the following students are receiving the MASTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH degree in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences:
Melinda Lea Grubb
Laniece Sherell McGee
President Miller, the following student is receiving the BACHELOR OF APPLIED SCIENCE degree in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences:
Janera C Triplett
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF SCIENCE degree in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences:
Kameron G Corrothers
Tashina C Hampton
Raiford Luke Hobson
Hiedia A Hozan, CUM LAUDE
Amber A Johnson, CUM LAUDE
Tamara Jackeshia King
Zykeria Lewis, CUM LAUDE
Brandi R May
Chelsey Pearlisa Walker
Angel Desiree Washington
Sylvia A Williams
Alicia Nicole Witherspoon
Anesha C Worthington
President Miller, the following students are receiving the BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN NURSING degree in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences:
Zedakiah S Collins, CUM LAUDE
Shawn C Easley
Malika Shuntae Gunn
Avery J Huff
Teresa J Johnson
Brandy Nicole Montgomery
Sondra Renee Nichols, CUM LAUDE
Chelsea Rebecca Owen
Haylee Ty’esha Randle
LaShandra Roby, CUM LAUDE
Dr. Scott Tollison:
All graduates, please stand. At this time, I present the most recent graduates of MUW. Welcome to the Long Blue Line!
Congratulations to our graduates, and welcome to the Long Blue Line! As a fellow member of this Long Blue Line, I am thankful for the opportunities that my education provided me, and thankful for the faculty and staff who prepared me for my career and for my service to the community. In this season of Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that we were able to complete this semester and celebrate you today.
With the conferral of degrees, you were reminded that they are associated with rights, responsibilities and privileges. You are responsible for making good use of the education you received here. I hope you use your education and enthusiasm to make this a better world. You’ve been given great advice and messages for further reflection from Lydia Holland.
There is nothing like a global pandemic to help one put things in perspective! Just as the Renaissance followed the Great Plague, I am looking forward to a rebirth and a new Renaissance to follow this pandemic. You will be a part of this Renaissance.
You have overcome uncertainty and adversity to reach this threshold. Now, make the most of it. Hold fast to whatever optimism you’ve got, and keep your eye on what is most important to you, and find out how you can make a difference in the world. Be proud of what you have accomplished, and draw on that to carry you on your journey. I encourage you to stay in touch with us. When you realize something you have learned here has made a critical difference in your life, take the time to reach out to that professor or mentor and let them know. Support your alma mater with gifts of your talents, time, and resources. Help us identify future students. You are our ambassadors and light to the world.
And now, in this moment, the torch is being passed to you.
Go forth – and bless by light!
Today is a beginning, your commencement. We celebrate with you the new and unknown opportunities and successes yet to come. We expect great things from you and for you. And we hope you will “pay it forward” for those who will come after you. We express to you our gratitude and love, for your presence here has made us all the richer. Let us stand and sing together our Alma Mater, previously recorded by music education major Kyia King at the December 2019 Commencement Ceremony.
Serene as the dawning
Your promise now unfolds
To new heights of wisdom
Proclaiming truth foretold
With courage undaunted
Honor the challenge,
Guiding your purpose bold.
Sing praise to our great Alma Mater,
Oh, sing and cherish your mem'ries forever.
Profound our allegiance;
Secure our belief in God.
This creed of our heritage
Illumines the path untrod.
Stage party departs to La Primavera.