For immediate release: May 7, 2011
Contact: Jean Gordon Cook, 601-979-1571 (direct)
(JACKSON, Miss) – An Emmy Award-winning BET broadcaster and Jackson State University’s new president offered words of inspiration to more than 1,330 graduates during Jackson State’s spring commencement exercises May 6 and 7.
Ed Gordon, host of BET’s “Weekly with Ed Gordon,” spoke to 974 graduates during the morning ceremony on Saturday, May 7, at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.
Gordon told the graduates that being confident and prepared are key to success.
“You have to believe in yourself moving forward, but moving forward is work,” he said. “Hoping and wishing are not part of the game plan for success. You must be ready. You never know when your opportunity is coming.”
Jackson State University Vice President for Research and Federal Relations Felix Okojie presided over the May 7 commencement.
The graduating class included Ezana Demissie, who will continue his studies this fall at Harvard Medical School, where he will pursue a Ph.D. in immunology.
“I want to work on third-world diseases,” the 22-year-old Ethiopian native said. “Infectious diseases, especially HIV, are a huge concern back home.”
As an immunologist, Demissie plans to work on developing treatments for HIV and AIDS. He hopes his research will encompass work in North America and Africa.
A graduate of the Piney Woods School in central Mississippi, Demissie earned a full scholarship to study chemistry at Jackson State University. He is graduating with a 4.0 grade point average and an impressive body of scientific research.
“The only thing that’s different about me from people back home is the opportunities I have been given,” Demissie said.
Meyers delivered the commencement speech during JSU’s graduate exercises on May 6 at the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center.
That ceremony conferred master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees to 363 graduates and granted golden diplomas to JSU’s class of 1961.
Meyers, who assumed leadership of Jackson State in January 2011, told the graduates that having an advanced degree brings new responsibilities.
“It falls to you, the educated among the world’s societies, to find paths and solutions to the problems we face today,” Meyers said.
The Division of Graduate Studies class of 2011 included Kimberly McMurray of Jackson, who graduated with her master’s degree in social work.
McMurray, who earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi, said she chose to pursue her master’s in social work at Jackson State because of the school’s reputation and the commitment of its professors.
“I had spoken to several people who spoke so highly about the social work education they received here,” she said. “The professors really make the program. They are so dedicated and encouraging to their students. It’s really been a phenomenal experience.”
Earlier this year, McMurray received the top graduate student prize at the annual conference of the Mississippi Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. The honor is granted to one graduate student and one undergraduate from accredited B.S.W. and M.S.W. schools in Mississippi. JSU spring 2011 graduate William “Nick” Nicholas earned the undergraduate award.
McMurray plans to get a job working with children and families and continue her studies to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
– JSU –
About Jackson State University: Bridge to a Brighter Tomorrow
Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of the state of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, health-care, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with three satellite campuses throughout the city. For more information, visit www.jsums.edu.