Ceremony to culminate college careers

Years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice will come to a climax for hundreds of Florida A&M University students with the annual fall graduation commencement on Friday, Dec 10. This semester’s graduation ceremony will be held at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.

Lana Lockhart, a graduating English student from Tallahassee, Fla., said that she is excited about moving into a new era of her life.

“Although I am going to miss my FAMU family, it still feels great to finally be finished with my first academic milestone,” Lockhart said.

The event is also a showcase of the growth of the University. According to the FAMU registrar’ office, the Fall 2004 ceremony will contain the largest number of graduates ever to walk during a Fall commencement.

“There are 785 candidates who have been approved to walk in the ceremonies,” said Michael A. James of the FAMU registrars’ office.

The 785 graduates along with their family and friends will be addressed at the ceremony by Judge Greg Mathis, host of the hit court show “Judge Mathis.”

“We are very fortunate to have Judge Mathis,” said Henry L. Kirby, associate vice president of student affairs who is also the chair of the commencement committee. Kirby said that he believes that Mathis will bring a unique perspective to the students given his back ground.

Mathis grew up in the inner city hosing projects of Detroit. As a young man he endeavored into a life of crime, but at the age of 18 he turned his life around and became the youngest judge in Michigan’s history.

Mathis who is the cousin of former FAMU president Walter Smith will receive an honorary degree from the University. The University will also pay for Mathis’ travel and living expenses for the weekend of the graduation.

The Fall 2004 commencement will also mark Fred Gainous’ last graduation ceremony as the president of FAMU. The University has no plans of addressing the issue of the presidential vacancy at the graduation ceremony.

“Graduation is a time to recognize students for their accomplishments,” said Michael A. James. “It would be a disservice to them to take away from that.”

Gainous said that he was happy for the graduating class, and that he wishes to make the occasion a perfect event for both students and their loved ones.

“Graduation is one of the most significant things that can happen in a person’s life,” said Gainous. “Parents send their children to Florida A&M University for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to receive a quality education.”

The ceremony will begin promptly at 6p.m. with graduates being required to be at the Civic Center no later than 5p.m. There are no cap on how many people can receive tickets to the ceremony, but their will be a charge for parking at the Civic Center.

Contact Anthony Moore a_m_moore@hotmail.com.