Nearly 700 Southern University graduates at 2017 spring commencement
BATON ROUGE – Nearly 700 graduates received their degrees from Southern University on Friday.
South African Ambassador to the United States Mninwa J. Mahlangu delivered the commencement address at the F.G. Clark Activity Center in front of the graduates.
Severe weather delayed the start of the commencement ceremony for a few minutes, however that did not stop Ambassador Mahlangu from sharing his encouraging words that echoed the late Nelson Madela when he visited Southern University in 2000.
President Mandela spoke with conviction that day as he had many times before, of the importance of education. Part of his legacy, and it is a tremendous legacy, is a legacy of academic values."
Mahlangu shared that Mandela's education was interrupted by his expulsion from college for having joined in a student protest. He went on to receive his degree when he was 25 years old.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. And so I commend you today for having engaged in this revolutionary act, and congratulate you, as you commence to separate yourselves from your contemporaries," the ambassador told the spring candidates for graduation.
Ambassador Mahlangu was appointed in October 2014 by the President of South Africa to serve as the South African Ambassador to the U.S. based in Washington, DC. He last visited Southern University, November 19, 2015.
The South African diplomat also participated in a University ceremony to rededicate a program in honor of Mandela, Thursday, May 11.
The Southern University 2017 spring class included 477 undergraduate degree recipients and 191 graduate degree recipients. The class had 102 honor graduates. The graduating class represented 48 parishes, 15 states and territories and eight countries. The oldest graduate was 73 and the youngest was 21.
The University awarded posthumous undergraduate degrees to former students Denver A. Smith and Leonard Douglas Brown who were killed in November of 1972 during a campus demonstration.
Honorary doctor of humane letters degrees were awarded to Ambassador Mahlangu and SU alumna Dolly Deselle Adams, a former national president of The Links, Incorporated, during the annual spring graduation exercises.
More information about commencement at Southern University can be found at www.subr.edu.