Graham: ‘I have gained a lot’

In a packed room on the 22nd floor of the State Capitol, seven student finalists waited for the winner of Florida Leader magazine’s 2005 College Student of the Year to be announced.

Darius Graham was the only FAMU student chosen as a finalist for the award since 1996 and the first black person since 2001 to be nominated.

Graham, 21, a political science student from Charlotte, N.C., said he was a little nervous and anxious before hearing the announcement of the winner.

“I will be OK if I don’t win because I have gained a lot of information that I can bring back to FAMU and SGA,” Graham said. “I want to bring back some ideas for the FAMU student elections, like Internet voting and create an alternative spring break program for students to acquire community service hours during their break.”

Among those in attendance were FAMU Interim President Castell V. Bryant and Graham’s parents.

“We are extremely honored and proud of Darius,” said Carolice Graham, Darius’ mother. “This is just recognition of just some of the things he has accomplished.”

SunTrust Bank, Office Depot and a host of other companies sponsored the event as well as awarded gift cards to the finalists.

The panel of judges, which included FAMU Interim Director of the Office of Recruitment and Scholarships, William McCray, found it very difficult to narrow the finalists down to one.

McCray, who has been a panel judge since 1987, said Darius’ achievement disproves the stereotype that HBCU’s cannot compete with other prestigious schools.

“It was truly hard to pick just one, seeing that Darius exemplifies what FAMU stands for,” McCray said.

When it was time for the winner to be announced, the audience became restless.

In the end, the magazine named Matthew Collier of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University this year’s recipient of the honor.Although Graham did not receive the award, he said he still has a lot of work to do.

As SGA attorney general, president of the Honor Students Association and the Mock Trial Team, Graham has a lot on his plate.

“I don’t have anytime to be down,” Graham said. “I have to catch a plane right after this to the Mock Trial Championships.”

The trial team competed in the Mock Trial Championships in Des Moines, Iowa this past weekend.

FAMU was the only HBCU represented in the championships.

Contact Nyerere Davidson at