U.S. Rep.Corrine Brown headlines fall commencement; more than 600 to walk

With the semester rapidly coming to end, so are some students’ tenure at Florida A&M.
According to the university registrar’s office, as of Tuesday, 684 students were candidates for graduation.

This breaks down to 531 bachelor’s degrees, 122 master’s degrees, 14 juris doctorates and 17 doctorate degrees.

FAMU usually averages around 600 graduate candidate students in the fall semester and almost 800 in the spring semester, according to the registrar’s office.

“This office usually process[es] over 900 graduation applications a semester, but as the semester goes on, some students realize that they will not meet all the requirements,” said Natasha Green, a student worker in the registrar office.  Henry Kirby dean of students, said the projected budget for the fall commencement is between $8,000 and $10,000, which is almost $8,000 less than graduations  held at the Leon County Civic Center.

“We had to pay for food and not to mention we had to pay for their personnel to work the event,” Kirby said. “So we are really glad to be in our own facility now.”

Fall commencement is scheduled for Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. in the new Al Lawson Teaching Gym, which opened in late March and seats 9,000 people.

Since the ribbon cutting in April, the new gym has been the venue for the spring and summer commencements that featured guest speakers such as former President Bill Clinton and CNN anchor Soledad O’ Brien.

The keynote speaker for fall graduation is Congresswoman Corrine Brown, a Florida A&M alumna, who graduated in 1969.

The university’s public relations department and the university’s president, who is the head of the commencement committee, choose the speaker.

One main complaint from commencement-goers was that graduation was too long.

“The program was way too long so now we try to cut it down to no more than two hours because we know students want to get out early and celebrate with family and friends,” Kirby said.

Some students have been pleased with the past graduation ceremonies and look forward to this fall’s commencement.

“The past graduations that I have attended have been really good and now that it’s finally my turn to graduate, I know this one is going to be great,” said Symphoni Gaines, 23, a fourth-year biology student from Long Beach, California and who is also a candidate for graduation.

The objective of the commencement committee is to make each graduation better each year and the key is to plan months in advance.

“Each semester we try to do a better job by fixing certain problems that students and parent[s] do not see,” Kirby said. “Every semester we point out things that we can do better next time. We want to make each graduation memorable for all the students and parents.”