University releases degree for student who posted controversial photo

Terrica Williams
photo courtesy: Google

On July 30, Florida A&M University student Terica Williams posted a graduation photo
that put social media in an uproar. She appeared to be standing naked with snakes
coming from her head in front of the rattle snake statue located in front of the CASS
building on campus. This resulted in backlash from students, alumni and the university
— which withheld her master’s degree in counselor education.

This stopped Williams from moving on after graduation.

“The entire process was a tad bit challenging; I wasn’t able to move on with the next
steps of my career because I did not have a degree to present to my employers,”
Williams told The Famuan.

However, after four long months, FAMU reversed its decision and ruled in Williams’
favor, releasing her degree.

Not too long after the photo was posted, FAMU issued a statement that said the
university was looking into the post.

“The university is aware of the picture taken and is currently investigating the incident,”
said vice president of Student Affairs William Hudson, Jr.

Williams saw nothing wrong with the photo and thought it was creative, according to
NBC Miami.

“I took one next to the snake statute that represents me shedding like a snake into my
new chapter,” Williams said. "What was unique about that photo was that I appeared to
be nude, and I had snakes coming out of my head,”
Williams was taken aback when she found out there would be a trial to see if she

violated any statutes in the student code of conduct, but she knew just who to call to
help her plead her case.

“The lawyers that I chose to represent me are lawyers that my family has used on other
cases so I knew they would be perfect for the job,” Williams said.
David Kubiliun and fellow attorney Scott Egleston worked diligently to get Williams her

In a hearing on Sept. 13, Kubiliun and Egleston argued that the university’s refusal of
her degree for the viral photo with more than 60,000 likes on Instagram was an
infringement on her First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.

Williams was wearing a skin-toned body suit when the photo was taken, they said, and
she was in fact not nude, according to Kubiliun and Egleston.

“When she took that picture there was no one around the campus. So, it’s not like she
disrupted school functions, which is what the school initially said,” Kubiliun said.

“Secondly, that she violated a law which was confirmed by the school’s police
department that she was not in any violation of any Florida statute.”

Kubiliun told NBC News, "She was unjustly treated by the university by not giving her
her diploma which she rightfully earned.”

Now that Williams has finally received her degree, she plans to continue to focus on her
rap and entertainment career and register as an intern for clinical mental health
counseling in the state of Florida.

Many believed that it would be hard and challenging for Williams to find work after her
graduation photo went viral, but Williams believes otherwise.

“I am not afraid to find work in my desired field, I would be an asset to any company I
decide to work for or create.”