Kentucky State University top grad talks of ‘healing’

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Members of the spring 2020 graduating class of Kentucky State University celebrated during commencement convocation at Alumni Stadium in Frankfort Oct. 16.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – More than 200 Kentucky State University graduates officially

Kentucky State University offered a socially distanced commencement convocation for its spring 2020 graduating class. Kentucky State was able to limit guests and host the event outdoors at Alumni Stadium in Frankfort.

earned their degrees Friday, Oct. 16 during the Spring 2020 Commencement Convocation at Alumni Stadium.

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Nurses, educators, business professionals, computer scientists, social workers and future leaders of all kinds now go forth from the University, ready for the next level of success.

Rev. Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia and founding pastor of Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore, Marylandwho received the Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Kentucky State, delivered the

The 2019 Mister Kentucky State University, Michael N. Weaver Jr., returned to Kentucky to celebrate his commencement convocation at Kentucky State University. Weaver, center, is pictured with Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II, left, and Weaver’s mother, Lillian Mathis, right.

commencement address.

“Don’t forget whose eyes you’re looking through,” Bryant said. “You’re seeing through the eyes of grandmothers who took out a second mortgage. You’re looking through the eyes of your church home who sold pound cake and fried chicken dinners just so you could have a book scholarship. Understand the eyes you have are not yours. You are seeing the world through the lens of somebody a generation that went before you.”

As the class that was born after 9/11 and is living through COVID-19, Bryant applauded the resilience of the class and encouraged them to continue doing great things.

“You are not here just for window dressing,” Bryant said. “Break the glass ceiling and change the world as we know it.”

Derek Roberts, who finished with a computer science degree, was the class valedictorian.

Roberts said his four years at Kentucky State were a metamorphosis for him.

“Loneliness was my gospel,” Roberts said. “Isolation was my form of worship. Depression and grief had compounded me into a cocoon of isolation. That was the man who enrolled in this university four years ago.”

As time passed, Roberts said healing took place.

“Peers became friends, professors became mentors,” Roberts said.

Roberts emphasized to the audience that they are not alone.

“You don’t hear one voice in these streets demanding change, you hear a community,” Roberts said. “You are not alone.”

President Brown announced interesting facts about the class of 2020: the average age for a bachelor’s graduate is 22 and the average age for a master’s graduate is 32; the oldest graduate – George Watkins – is 63 years old. Twenty one states are represented in the graduating class, as well as graduates from the Congo and Saudia Arabia.

Musical guest and national recording artist KeKe Wyatt brought the house down with musical selections “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “For Every Mountain,” “If Only You Knew” and “I Will Always Love You.”

President Brown honored and acknowledged the golden graduates of the class of 1970, celebrating their 50th anniversary, with Alazene Walker Johnson providing the class response.

Kentucky State University also recognized its 2020 Founder’s Day award winners.

Dr. Carl H. Smith received the John Henry Jackson Achievement Award. Brigadier General Henry L. Huntley received the Rufus Ballard Atwood Heritage Award. W. Ronald Lilly received the Kentucky State University Thorobred Award. BMW Academy in Lexington received the Jackson Hall Award. Jason Fullman, Sheila Burton Mason, David Neville and Katrisha Waldridge received the Presidential Citation for Excellence.

President Brown gave each graduate their first $20 instead of the traditional $2. President Brown also brought in surprise special guest Poppa Hussein, who brought the graduates to their feet with his hit “I’m Lit.”

Kentucky State University is a public, comprehensive, historically black land-grant university committed to advancing the Commonwealth of Kentucky, enhancing society, and impacting individuals by providing quality teaching with a foundation in liberal studies, scholarly research, and public service to enable productive lives within the diverse global economy.