Black Graduating Class of 2017- We See You


And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was a rumble in the firmament showering Black magic unto the earth giving birth to a reign of black excellence among all nations.
From top left to right: April Watson “Masters in Business Administration;” Evelyne Edouard “Masters in Healthcare Management;” Sophia Jean “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology;” Shalanda Duperrier “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Business;” Nadiya Ledan “Masters in Education and Human Development;” Dannie Dorrilus “Bachelor of Arts in Public Health;” Leslie Chatelain Jr. “Masters in Public Health;” Josh Brooks “Juris Doctor;” Senai Andikiel “Masters in Environmental Science and Engineering;” Stacey Joseph “Masters in Social Work;” Mervnide Pierre “Certified Nurse Midwife, Masters of Science in Nursing;” Brittany Justine “Juris Doctor;” Devon Austrie “Bachelor of Arts in Economics;” and Laura Kay “Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology and Human Development and Math with a Minor in African Studies.”

From top left to right: April Watson “Masters in Business Administration;” Evelyne Edouard “Masters in Healthcare Management;” Sophia Jean “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology;” Shalanda Duperrier “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Business;” Nadiya Ledan “Masters in Education and Human Development;” Dannie Dorrilus “Bachelor of Arts in Public Health;” Leslie Chatelain Jr. “Masters in Public Health;” Josh Brooks “Juris Doctor;” Senai Andikiel “Masters in Environmental Science and Engineering;” Stacey Joseph “Masters in Social Work;” Mervnide Pierre “Certified Nurse Midwife, Masters of Science in Nursing;” Brittany Justine “Juris Doctor;” Devon Austrie “Bachelor of Arts in Economics;” and Laura Kay “Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology and Human Development and Math with a Minor in African Studies.”

I don’t know what magic potion of greatness students of color were sippin on this past school semester but it has resulted in the best commemoration ceremonies and cap decor I’ve ever seen. From swag surfin, to hollerin and turning your backs to the current administration’s leaders who aren’t here for your educational prowess.

Class of 2017, you’ve made it and this one is for you! 

To the 14 splendid individuals pictured above who walked across the stage this month, may this congratulations transcend mountains. May it be a never ending reminder that “YOU did this!” Some of you achieved this momentous occasion while taking on full-time positions, parenting, and maintaining a social life. There were also some of you who diligently travailed beyond the pressures of family life, the juggle of balancing bae’s needs, and the stress of mental and physical health just to get to graduation day and scream, “Mama we made it!” How you did all of this while maintaining a whole real life is beyond me but black man, black woman, you did it!

                      (l) Mervnide Pierre and Lodz Joseph (r)                              Photo Credit: Marvens Pierre

                      (l) Mervnide Pierre and Lodz Joseph (r)
                             Photo Credit: Marvens Pierre

Graduates, we heard your thank yous to us for being understanding when you went ghost-delayed responses to text messages and canceling your appearances because you had to study. You thanked us for traveling miles and missing work just to see you walk across a stage for less than a minute. Only to be followed by us screaming your name to the heavens despite administration probably butchering it, impromptu photo shoots, and of course food fellowship and drinks at the place of your liking. 

We heard you but in true black tradition, we must say to you, ubuntu. We are because you are, we acknowledge your efforts. Thank you for not only seeing yourself but for seeing the generations before you that migrated to this country to make a better way for you. Thank you for seeing the generations after you, for being a source of representation for the young brown and black bodies who are unable to see their way out of their hoods. Thank you for pushing through the countless sleepless nights and doubtful days throughout your academic journey. Thank you for turning your tears into triumph and your frustrations into fearlessness. Thank you because without you, the legacy of our black community would discontinue.

Thank you for saying, “Yes” when the systemic racism that is our American society said, “No.” Thank you because when they said slow down, you sped up. When you were given margins, you lunged outside of them. When you were given hurdles, you leaped over them and dapped the sky.

Class of 2017, you have passed the baton. You arrived to the dinner and instead of being on the menu, you sat at the table. You’re now out of the classroom but the lessons will not stop. You’re now a student of life equipped with the necessary tools to put theory into practice. As you professionally step into the degrees you have earned we now walk bolder hand in hand. We look forward to the affirming head nod, glance, and smile in the work place letting you know that we see you. You are not alone, you are not invisible. So shine brighter, stand taller, speak louder, we see you. 


Congratulations!

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