FAMU legacy and tradition run deep


With a past steeped in family legacy and tradition, Florida A&M University runs in the veins of many students . 

FAMU is the common link for many students who were motivated to further their education by the success of their parents.  

“FAMU is like a second home to me,” said Camille Baker a third year business student from Orlando. 

Baker, 20, is a fourth generation student with Rattler pride tracing back to her great-grandparents. 

Her grandmothers, Thelma Crump and March Robinson, graduated from FAMU in the 1950s, followed by her parents, Valeria Robinson-Baker and Robert Baker, in 1979. 

“I couldn’t escape this school even if I tried,” Baker said. “Growing up, my parents would send me to Tallahassee for the summer to bond with family and I always ended up on FAMU’s campus in one of its summer programs.

“FAMU was an experience I needed for myself because all of my life I went to small private schools,” she added. 

Valerie General-Gaines is a 1994 elementary education graduate.

As an alumna, she wants nothing more than for her daughter to choose FAMU when she graduates high school. 

“She graduates in 2014,” said Gaines, “so I only have a little more time to continue to expose her to FAMU and the lustrous culture of the university.” 

Children of alumni do not always choose their parent’s alma mater to seek out higher education. 

Alumna LaToya Lawson was a second generation Ratter who reluctantly followed in her father’s footsteps. Lawson, a criminal justice graduate from West Palm Beach, said that was not her initial plan.

“Although FAMU was not my first choice, saidI have every intention to send my future children there,” said the 29-year-old. “During my tenure at FAMU I collected a wealth of knowledge outside of the classroom that I would not want my children to miss out on.” 

“They will carry on the legacy my father and I have left,” Lawson said, “they will too, inherit Rattler pride.” 

Edra Taylor, a 1991 mathematics graduate, was literally born on Rattler grounds. 

Taylor was born to Rattler parents Eddie and Cleo Taylor at the old FAMU hospital, which is now the Foote Hilyer Administration Building. 

“Growing up I lived less than one mile away from campus,” Taylor said. “Going to FAMU started out as a family tradition; all of my relatives attended as well. The professors make you work harder than students at any other university and, they make sure you know your place in the world before you leave.” 

Taylor is very adamant about her son 7-year-old being a future Rattler. 

“He has no choice,” Taylor said jokingly. “The tradition of FAMU goes well beyond education; you learn life lessons that you will hold forever.” 



·       Sunshine Manor– The current counseling center is the former President’s House. The house was designed and constructed by students in the mechanical arts department in 1935. George Gore was the last president to live in the house and it was named “Sunshine Manor” by his wife, Pearl, in the 1950s.

·       Jackson DavisHall – Built in 1928, this hall originally served as a residential hall for seventy-five students. It also held offices, music rooms and recreation-social areas. It is now the location of the math department, which includes classrooms, offices and tutorial labs.

·       Lee Hall– This building was initially known as the administration building, equipped with classrooms, music rooms, an auditorium and administrative offices. Constructed in 1928, it was named for the third president of the university, J.R.E. Lee in 1944 after his death. This building still holds offices, including the Office of the President and an auditorium.

·        Florida A&M University Hospital and Health Center/Foote-Hilyer Administration Center – This former state-of-the-art hospital facility was completed in 1951 and was one of the only three college hospital training facilities for African Americans in the South. It attracted doctors from all over the country, including Dr. Charles Drew, famous for his research on blood plasma. In 1981, it was co-named for Jennie Virginia Hilyer and Dr. Leonard Hobson Buchanan Foote. Hilyer was the college’s first nurse and nursing instructor. Dr. Foote served as the college physician and director of the FAMU hospital from 1926-1973. It is now the administrative center that holds such offices as Financial Aid and Student Affairs.