UPS president speaks at JSU fall commencement exercises – Dec. 8


(JACKSON, Miss.) – Myron Gray, president of U.S. operations for the United ParcelService (UPS), shared some wisdom from his 32-year professional career with close to 550 Jackson State University graduates during the university’s fall 2012 commencement ceremony on Dec. 8.“Dreams put into action with careful planning and hard work will open doors for many opportunities not only in your professional life, but your personal life,” Gray said.

The native Mississippian also urged graduates to be confident in their abilities so that they can adapt to the changing demands of their careers.

“All of us are being prepared as leaders, but you won’t necessarily know when that moment will come,” he said.

Gray is responsible for all U.S. operations for UPS, which include the pick-up and delivery of more than 15 million packages each day and 345,000 employees. He began his career with UPS in 1978 as a part-time package handler while attending college. He holds a degree in Business Administration and has completed advanced management programs at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and the Yale School of Business.


Held at the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center, the commencement recognized the accomplishments of both undergraduate and graduate students. The ceremony also granted an honorary doctorate degree to James Miller of the Oxford International Development Group for his accomplishments in public health and the Presidential Medal to actress Vanessa Bell Calloway for her support of emancipated foster youth.

Dr. Ashton Hamme

Dr. Ashton Hamme

A special commencement ceremony was held Dec. 7 for Tiger football players and members of the Sonic Boom of the South marching band so that they could participate in the SWAC Championship in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 8. Jackson State University 2012 Teacher of the Year Dr. Ashton Hamme, Professor Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, delivered the commencement address.

“The reason why I think it’s remarkable that you are graduating as a football player or a member of the Boom is because you also had to compete in the classroom,” Hamme said. “Today I give to you a new charge:  As JSU alumni, help others to fight the good fight. Help others to keep the faith by giving back to our communities through mentoring. And give back to JSU.”

Prior to joining the faculty at Jackson State, Hamme pursued a career in industry at Monsanto/Pharmacia Corp., where he performed medicinal chemistry-related research in the area of cardiovascular drug discovery and was a co-inventor of more than 10 patents. The Detroit native earned his B.S. degree in chemistry from Jackson State, and his Ph.D. in chemistry from The Ohio State University.

DSC_7877The fall 2012 class includes former foster child Jhamasa Noel Lewis-Adams, 22. An entrepreneurship major, Lewis-Adams has already launched her own line of purses, Lusha Fashion Accessories. “Jackson State taught me about taking my business idea to the next level,” said Lewis-Adams, who spent part of her senior year studying abroad in China.The Los Angeles native, who is also a singer and songwriter, is the first in her biological family to graduate from college. She said foster youth often have a difficult time making it through college because of financial constraints.

Lewis-Adams credits her godmother, actress Vanessa Bell Calloway, with helping her get through college. Lewis-Adams and Calloway will co-host a benefit reception from 2-5 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Penguin Restaurant in Jackson to raise money for the Vanessa Bell Calloway Fund for Emancipated Students.

Joseph LeBeau

Joseph LeBeau

The fall 2012 class also includes football star defensive player Joseph LeBeau. An interdisciplinary studies major from New Orleans, LeBeau holds a 3.0 grade point average and was named the 2012 pre-season SWAC Defensive Player of the Year. He is currently a Buck Buchannan Award candidate for best defensive player in the county.“When I started in junior college I said I was going to get a 3.0 or higher,” LeBeau said. “Getting your education is as important as playing football.”

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