Trumpet Awards founder and trailblazing broadcasting executive to SU fall grads: ‘Better get on the ball’ - Friday, December 16, 2016
Clayton, civil rights leader, pioneering broadcasting executive, and
founder, president, and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation,
Incorporated, and creator and executive producer of the Foundation’s
Trumpet Awards, was the guest speaker for the Southern University Baton
Rouge Fall 2016 Commencement Exercises, Friday, December 16, 2016, in
the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
University and A&M College held its 2016 Fall Commencement, Friday,
Dec. 16, 2016, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. Leading each college
were the student marshals, students that earned the highest grade point
average in the college. Pictured from left to right: Emmanuel Jamal
Baker, College of Business; Khadijah L. Neal, College of Agricultural,
Family and Consumer Science; Laura Syori, chief student marshal, College
of Sciences and Engineering; Rachelle Richard, College of Humanities
and Interdisciplinary; Whitney L. Plummer, College of Nursing and Allied
Health; and Nastassia Neely, Nelson Mandela College of Government and
the 429 SUBR candidates for degrees during Fall 2016 Commencement was
top student Laura Syori who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of
science in engineering from the College of Sciences and Engineering.
Pictured is Syori receiving her diploma from SU System President Ray L.
Trailblazing civil rights leader and pioneering
broadcasting executive Xernona Clayton was the guest speaker for the
Southern University Baton Rouge Fall 2016 Commencement Exercises,
Friday, December 16, 2016, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Clayton's message to the SU fall graduating class included "a few things to think about."
pioneer as the South's first Black person to have her own television
show and the founder, president, and CEO of the Trumpet Awards
Foundation, Incorporated, and creator and executive producer of the
Foundation’s Trumpet Awards, Clayton talked to the Southern grads about
"the urgency of now."
"Today is the tomorrow you worried about
yesterday. Use today--fill it with all the joy you can find--make today
count," said Clayton.
The Muskogee, Oklahoma native moved to
Atlanta in 1965 where she accepted a position with the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with the late Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. She shared a personal account of when she drove
King to the airport on his way to Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. Her
account of the trip included recalling King's intent to spend more time
with his children and mother upon his return. King was assassinated
during his visit to Memphis. The commencement speaker used the
reflection to further her focus on the urgency of "taking care of
She encouraged the new grads to become leaders.
"We need your thinking, your brightness, your innovation, and your
alertness," she stressed.
Clayton used several humorous anecdotes
and thoughts throughout her remarks much to the delight of the
near-capacity crowd in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
musing was a fable about a golfer attempting to land a productive swing.
She explained, on two attempts, the golfer's ball landed in a hill of
ants, each time devastating the ant colony. She said one of two
remaining ants looked at the other and declared, "If we (the ants) are
going to survive this thing, we better get on the ball."
to the grads and audience, a wise Clayton shared, "Do not wait until
tomorrow, plan today so that when tomorrow comes you are ready to face
the day. There is no such thing as shoes too small to make imprints in
SU System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton, along
with Board of Supervisors chairman Leon R. Tarver II, presented Clayton
an honorary doctor of humane letters degree during the commencement
The SUBR Fall 2016 Class includes 330 undergraduate
degree candidates and 99 candidates for graduate degrees. The class has
74 honor graduates (one magna cum laude, 10 cum laude, 63 honorable
The SUBR fall graduating class represents 44 Louisiana
parishes, 18 states and territories, and 11 countries. The oldest
candidate is 63 and the youngest is 20. The class has 294 female and 135
Leading the 429 fall SUBR candidates for
degrees was top student Laura Syori, who graduated magna cum laude, with
a bachelor of science in biology from the College of Sciences and
Syori, a SU student-athlete, is a native of Gitega,
Burundi, a small country in East Africa. An accomplished member of the
women’s tennis team, she graduated with a 3.725 grade point average.
College marshals for the SU December 2016 Commencement included:
College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences
Khadijah L. Neal, Winnsboro
Bachelor of Science in Urban Forestry
College of Business
Emmanuel Jamal Baker, Monroe
Bachelor of Science in Accounting
College of Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies
Rachelle Richard, Jarreau
Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
College of Nursing and Allied Health
Whitney L. Plummer, Bachelor
Bachelor of Science
College of Sciences and Engineering
Laura Syori, Gitega, Burundi
Bachelor of Science
Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Science
Nastassia Neely, Baton Rouge
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice