When you think about Florida A&M University (FAMU) the eternal flame will always come to mind. Whether it’s walking to class, taking graduation pictures, honoring a fellow Rattler who has died, or FAMU students coming together, the eternal flame is symbolic of Rattler excellence.
The eternal flame commemorates Time Magazine's selection of FAMU as the 1997-1998 College of Year. In 1997 Time Magazine and the Princeton Review College Guide began a new tradition by naming a single school college of the year and FAMU was selected as its first winner.
FAMU was selected for making tripling its graduating class since Frederick Humphries was seated as the university’s president in 1985 and gained recognition for its improved programs and higher-quality student body.
Burning 24 hours a day, the eternal flame is located at the center of FAMU's campus. It represents the fire and spirit that lies within every FAMU student.
Michelle “Marva” Johnson, the 110th Miss FAMU, expressed that the eternal flame is the heart of FAMU and it symbolizes that no matter what Rattlers will always strike regardless of the situations they may face.
“Whenever I pass by the eternal flame it reminds me to keep going. The eternal flame means love, prosperity, and unity,” Johnson said.
The 14th Mister FAMU, Ronnie Mackey Jr., shared how the eternal flame is special to him being that he is a native of Tallahassee. According to Mackey, the eternal flame is something that will stay with Rattlers even when they graduate.
“The eternal flame will forever be a key mark of FAMU’s preeminent status,” Mackey said. “Whenever you have more National Merit Scholars than any other universities, that speaks volumes. Being a historically underfunded institution that competes on an international stage really says a mouthful.”
Jarvis Jackson, a criminal justice student, said recognition like Time Magazine’s College of the Year in 1997-1998 is something rattlers hope to receive again.
“I love the eternal flame. It makes me feel good. It shows that FAMU was the college of the year in 1997, and that is an achievement that we look forward to receiving again,” Jackson said.
The highest of seven hills will continue to strive for excellence and continue make monumental moments for generations to follow. The eternal flame is a constant reminder to keep pushing through the hard times or continuing to strive through the great times. The eternal flame is the vessel that embodies the student body and Rattler nation.