Activist and alumna speaks to honor students

Patricia Stephens Due, a FAMU alumna and civil rights activist, was the keynote speaker at the annual Honors Day Convocation.

In 1960, Due was among five other FAMU students who spent 49 days in jail for trying to order a sandwich at a Woolworth lunch counter.

“It doesn’t matter how nervous you are, as long as you do it anyway,” said Due, noting that “not all soldiers fight on foreign soil.”

The Florida A&M University Honors Program hosted the annual Honors Day Convocation, which was started by Eva Wonton when she was the dean of the School of General Studies. Honors Day Convocation would later become part of Honors Week.

Honors Week consists of a graduate school preparation seminar, the Bernard D. Hendricks Undergraduate Honor Conference, the Honors Day Convocation, the Honors Award Banquet, and Honor Society Day.

Ivy Mitchell, director of Honors Program, said the week of events exists so the University can pay special tribute and encourage students to continue to do well in their academic endeavors.

“The convocation is necessary so that the university can show their support of outstanding students,” Mitchell said.

At the convocation, students with a GPA of 3.0 or above from every college and school in the university gathered in Lee Hall Auditorium to be recognized for their academic accomplishments.

“Your best may not be the same all the time, but it is important that you always try,” Due said.

“I challenge you to go into the world and be all you can be. You are unique and special.”

“The convocation allows students to be recognized for their hard work, but some students get overlooked if the information isn’t up-to-date,” said Jasmine White, 20, a junior political science student from Cleveland.

White said there needs to be more emphasis on the week and more publicity for the convocation so more students can be recognized.

“Representatives from the 12 colleges and schools, who are on the advisory committee, are responsible for making sure students are aware of the convocation and verifying those who qualify to attend,” said Ruth Sanders, Honors Program coordinator.

Honors Week events are also publicized through fliers, media dissemination and the FAMU Web site.

Due touched upon the theme, “developing leaders and creating global opportunities.”

“We have a responsibility to help each other, and after helping each other, we still need to help others,” Due said.

While concluding her speech, Due asked all students to stand and raise their hand and say, “I will do my best.”

She also encouraged students to inquire about the John Due and Patricia Stephens Due Freedom Scholarship because the funds are available for FAMU students.

Her daughter, Tananarive Due, who strongly believes all people can make a difference, set up the scholarship.

Following the keynote address, the dean or interim dean of each college or school recognized the honor students of his or her respective college or school.

Each college or school was also charged with the responsibility of identifying two outstanding honor students.

“The outstanding honor students are chosen by the college based on a certain criteria,” Sanders said.

The criteria include outstanding performance in three areas: scholarship, leadership and community service.

Ryan Mitchell, a junior environmental sciences student from Trinidad, said it was a special honor to be recognized.

Mitchell was one of two outstanding honor students recognized by the Environmental Sciences Institute.

“I was honored to know that what I do is appreciated and my hard work didn’t go unnoticed,” said Mitchell, who also noted that it was interesting to see so many of his peers in attendance at the convocation.

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