Saturday, December 17, 2016

19 FAMU student-athletes cross stage at Fall 2016 commencement

It’s the biggest event of the year.  Yes, even bigger than homecoming.  Commencement ceremonies bring out the best in FAMU Athletics and the Fall 2016 ceremony was no different.  Over 700 students had their degrees conferred upon them tonight, with 19 of those being FAMU student-athletes.

The graduates ranged from Jaymee Smith, who completed her degree in four years to Maverick McKinney; a football player from the mid-1980s who joined the workforce and returned to complete his degree, culminating in tonight’s commencement.   

No matter the time table, the pride remained the same.  The culmination of baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees are celebrated in grand fashion at Florida A&M University.

“It just doesn’t get any bigger than graduation.  As a part of the university’s leadership, I am privileged to sit on stage during commencement and realize that this university outputs a tremendous amount of professional degrees to African-Americans,” Athletic Director Milton Overton said.  “I’ve been at some well-respected places, but they can’t compare to what I see on graduation day here at FAMU,” Overton said.

With the Al Lawson Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium filled to capacity, family and friends came from far and near to wish the graduates well and to witness the historic moment.  Jemal Gibson delivered a commencement address which personified the FAMU experience.

“When I came down here from Chicago, I didn’t have a plan.  I had some friends who were coming down to go to school so I came too.  You hear people say it all the time, but I came here with $40 in my pocket.  Actually, $20 because I gave one of the guys $20 for bringing me down,” Gibson said.  He held the audience captive as he detailed his family’s struggles with drug addiction, leading to untimely deaths.

He also told of how he was accepted to FAMU, though unprepared in advance of showing up.  But for Richard Flamer, who broke normal protocol to help Gibson, he was given the opportunity to matriculate into what he felt was the only chance he had to excel in life.

Gibson is now one of the most successful pharmaceutical reps in the southeastern United States.  He pledged $100,000 to FAMU during commencement and had previously notified the university that he has a $100,000 benefit in his life insurance policy.

Also mixed in the graduates were two former football players who attained masters degrees.  Former linebacker Bobby Jackson earned his MBA, while former wide receiver Admasen Felix earned a masters degree in sport management.

The FAMU student-athletes who earned degrees were: Romario Chisolm (Football), Ryan Kopenski (Baseball), Keynote Cash (Football), Alexis Dean (Tennis), Timothy “TJ” Jones (Football), Montavius Williams (Football), Jaymee Smith (Track), Marcus Farlin (Football), Maverick McKinney (Football), Alonzo Palmer-Hicks (Football), Carson Royal (Football), Ronald Harris II (Football), Ashley Giacomucci (Track), Admasen Felix (Football), Kevin Parker (Golf), Tyson Holloway (Football), Bobby Jackson (Football), Chelsea Costin (Cheerleading), and Delysia Davis (Track).    

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