Opportunities Await for New Grads

African American students celebrate graduating in 2015

For the nearly 200 graduates attending the 23rd Annual Afrikan American Farewell Celebration on May 9, 2015, the theme of the ceremony was clear: how will you use the many opportunities that will be coming your way?

  • President Michael Drake and Archie Griffin, senior vice president for Alumni Relations, told students to enable, empower and aspire to change the world and not to dwell on obstacles but to focus on opportunities.
  • Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for the Office of Student Life, and James Moore III, associate provost in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, stated that the best opportunities were yet to come and that those opportunities should be connected to aspirations.
  • Representatives from African American Student organizations poured libations of ceremonial water, an opportunity to “honor the past, our families, the original source of our lives, and to freshen the road our ancestors traveled to be here with us today.”
  • Gregory Hammon told his fellow graduates that they had the opportunity to disprove every stereotype.

And then, the moment that everyone had been waiting for: the graduates’ names were called as they were presented to families and friends.

“Hearing my name being called reassured me that my perseverance and sacrifice to receive a degree was not in vain. I'm glad to not only make myself proud, but to make my parents proud was the greatest feeling,” said Whitley Hawkins, who graduated with a BA in psychology with a minor in communications and is an intern in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Advancement Office.

These graduates will accomplish much in their futures: they will become doctors, teachers, scientists, businessmen and women – wherever their chosen paths may take them. They will make their mark on the world and make the most of the opportunities given to them as alumni of The Ohio State University.


The Afrikan American Farewell Celebration began in 1992 to celebrate the academic achievements of African American students and their current and future successes. This annual tradition has grown to include over 150 graduates along with 2,000-plus family and friends. This year’s celebration was sponsored by the Office of Student Life, the Multicultural Center, Sorority and Fraternity Life, the Jim Jackson Endowment for the Frank W. Hale, Jr. Black Cultural Center, Ohio State Alumni Association, and the African American Alumni Association. Additional support comes from the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Coca-Cola.