HAMPTON, Va. (May 12, 2019) –Over 6,000 attendees cheered on the graduating class of 2019 inside the Hampton University Convocation Center. A total of 920 graduates walked across the stage, donning their caps and gowns, to accept their diplomas, and look forward to the next step in their lives.
Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey, welcomed the crowd of graduates, friends, families, and alumni to celebrate the accomplishments of the class of 2019. “I pay tribute to you for your many achievements and extend to you my very best wishes as you continue your quest for personal and professional fulfillment,” said Dr. Harvey. “I also extend to each of you my most sincere congratulations.”
Dr. Harvey spoke highly of the graduating class of 2019, and where they will go from here. “Hampton University provides its students with an education for life. The knowledge and skills gained during their tenure at this university, has enlightened and prepared them to be creators of original ideas. They are champions of change. Conquerors of new territories in liberal arts, education, math, science, politics and technology. So you, the graduating class of 2019, will be instrumental in moving our communities, our nation and our world forward,” Dr. Harvey said.
Keynote speaker, alumnus Lieutenant General Darrell K. Williams, class of 1983, delivered a powerful message about dreams to the graduating class. “I would encourage you to dream big and to live your own dreams. Starting today, remember that your life is your life and no one else’s. The world can only move forward when you follow your own dreams; this is the task of each new generation. You have to follow your dreams with passion, and no excuses,” Williams said. “I hope you appreciate how special this university is. The lineage continues. From one generation of Hamptonians to another, no matter where in the world, we pirates are alike, only separated by space and time. This university, located on the Hampton River and where the majestic Emancipation Oak stands, under which the first southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation took place, has given you everything that you need to succeed.”
As the ceremony came to a close, class Valedictorian Elisabeth Kuester, who is graduating with a 4.08 GPA, gave the class of 2019 some reflections about her experiences over the past four years at Hampton University. “Hampton University taught me the importance of having a sense of community. I was enchanted by how the students do not hesitate to help others. We live by the notion that the greatest outcome for the group is more important than personal gain. ‘We’ have always come before ‘I’ and that is very special,” said Kuester. “To the graduating class of 2019, we are leaving Hampton today as future leaders. Congratulations for reaching the first of many accomplishments. Enjoy this day to the fullest with the people you love the most.”
Awards Presented at the Ceremony:
- Outstanding Alumnus-at-Large Award – Dr. Christine M. Darden, the first African American woman at NASA’s Langley Research Center to be named into the Senior Executive Service, the top rank in the federal civil service. She was also one of the researchers featured in the book, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space.”
- Outstanding Alumnus-at-Large Award – Mr. Clarence W. Pearson, Jr., the second African American to become a licensed architect in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- Outstanding Twenty-Year Alumnus Award – Dr. LeKecia McGee Glover, dentist and owner of Sparkling Smiles of Asheboro, in North Carolina
- Class of 2019 Valedictorian – Elisabeth Kuester
- Class of 2019 Salutatorian – Jose Thomas
- Edward L. Hamm, Sr. Distinguished Teaching Award – Dr. Karen Denise Maxwell and Dr. Otsebele Nare