The Grand Ballroom was at full capacity Friday evening as Florida A&M University hosted its first in-person presidential inauguration in two years.
During this event, student body President Carrington Whigham and other members of the Student Government Association leadership were inaugurated into their elected roles.
Student body Vice President, Marcus Thomas, a third-year business administration student and Pensacola native, gave a heartfelt speech that had an impact on many. He came out to the university as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I cannot explain the feeling of being freed from restraints I have attached to myself for so long,” Thomas said. “Tonight was more than a declaration, more than a person or political statement.”
The 20-year-old said trials and tribulations could not stop him from being 100 percent genuine. Everything he endured during his time of silence prepared him for this very moment, he said.
“Over the last 20 years, it took every trial, every roadblock, every tear to get to this moment that has always been set in my history to reclaim the gift that I have had since the day I was born, being 100 percent authentically myself,” Thomas said.
The student leader mentioned how taking control of his narrative and claiming his power after it was stolen from him is an indescribable feeling, one he said was impossible to explain.
“Being able to take control of my narrative and take back the power that I allowed people to have in my life is a feeling I could never explain,” Thomas said.
Vatrece Harris, a third-year criminal justice major serving in the Student Senate, said Thomas exemplified what it truly means to have courage and humility.
“Diversity is something that I uphold as my first platform point,” Harrison said. “The actions of VP Thomas this evening displayed an exerted amount of courage that many others can use as an example to excel here on the highest of seven hills.”
Senate President Artise Lewis also shared how his experiences at FAMU not only prepared him for his role but life after college as well.
“The lessons I learned not only prepared me for professional life but personal life as well,” he said.
Since the pandemic, there has been a lot of talk on social media about the shift in the culture on FAMU’s campus. Friday night’s ceremony reassured the student body this is a step towards pushing the narrative further.