Hampton University is Celebrating the Graduating Class of 2020 Virtually

HAMPTON, Va. (May 19, 2020) – Hampton University is celebrating the graduating class of 2020 a little differently this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If circumstances followed the normal pattern, the seniors would have donned their caps and gowns this past Mother’s Day to attend Hampton University’s 150th Commencement ceremony. These students have worked hard these past years to earn their degrees and so Hampton University wants to recognize the importance of honoring their achievements. Below is the announcement for the 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorian, special awards, a virtual celebration of Honors Day, and a special letter from Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey to the graduating class.

“These are truly unprecedented and challenging times. With the support of our outstanding faculty and staff, Hampton University students have continued to shine, despite this pandemic. We want to take this time to formally recognize the many accomplishments of the graduating class of 2020. Don’t be common or ordinary. Be extra ordinary and Dream no Small Dreams,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.

Hampton University would like to announce the Valedictorian and Salutatorian for the graduating class of 2020 as Filip Stevanovic and Arayana Harris, respectively.

Stevanovic, originally from Rovinj Croatia, is graduating with a 4.0542 GPA. He is a psychology major with a marketing minor. He was a four-year letter winner on the sailing team and was a key contributor in two Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Co-Ed National Championship qualifying teams. He was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma this spring.

“After four years of hard work and dedication, I feel truly exalted, but above all extremely humbled by being recognized as the 2020 Class Valedictorian. It feels unreal to not only earn a college degree across the world, but also to graduate with such a distinctive honor. I’m grateful to have been part of the HBCU experience, and I’m immensely thankful to Hampton University for allowing me on this life-changing journey. Finally, I wanted to say that I’m happy to follow in the footsteps of Elisabeth Kuester, a friend and sailing teammate who graduated from ‘Our Home by the Sea’ a year ago at the top of her class,” Stevanovic said. “These past four years have continuously pushed me outside my comfort zone and made me grow in unthinkable ways. It was quite the adaptation coming to the U.S. from Croatia but being emerged into a completely new culture in such a holistic way has been transformational to my whole outlook on life. Without a doubt, I would say that I have received an education for life.” Stevanovic intends to obtain a master’s degree in the U.S. He would also like to extend a special shout out to his Pirates sailing team and Coach Alex for an unforgettable four years.

Harris, originally from Richmond, Va., is graduating with a 4.0511 GPA. She is a psychology major. Harris wants to be a school psychologist and will be attending James Madison University in the fall as a student in their M.A./Ed.S. School Psychology program. “I came to Hampton with the expectation that I would do well for myself. My family expected that from me and so I wanted to make them proud. I had a lot of great teachers and professors during my time at Hampton who helped give me the resources I needed to succeed,” Harris said. “I really feel grateful and blessed by the people who helped me get to where I am. I am proud of myself and feel lucky that I get to be someone who my younger family members can look up to and know they can accomplish anything.”

Special Awards

Hampton University would also like to celebrate the 2020 President’s Cup Awardees– James Griffin, Morgan Martin, LeShai McCullough, Rachel Sutton and Briana Wills. Only a few select people qualify for this high honor.

James Griffin is a 2020 graduate of the James T. George School of Business with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance.  James hails from Carmel, Indiana. As a student, James participated as member of the Student Recruitment Team, Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society, and the Financial Management Association. As a graduate, James has accepted an offer to work as a Business Operations Analysts with Red Ventures in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Morgan Martin is a 2020 graduate of the School of Science with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Morgan is from Atlanta, Georgia.  As a student, Morgan participated as a member of the Freddye T. Davy Honors College (2019-2020 Vice President), Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership Training Program, and was a MARC (Maximizing Access to Research Careers) Scholar. In the fall, Morgan will be attending Harvard University pursuing a PhD in the Biological Sciences in Public Health program.

LaShai McCullough is a 2020 graduate of the School of Liberal Arts and Education with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. LaShai is from Concord, North Carolina.  As a student, LaShai participated as a member of the Freddye T. Davy Honors College, Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society, College Girls and the John Biggers Circle with the University Museum. As a graduate, LaShai has accepted an offer to work as an Analyst with the US Government Accountability Office.

Rachel Sutton is a 2020 graduate of the School of Liberal Arts and Education with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Rachel is from Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  As a student, Rachel participated as a member of the Freddye T. Davy Honors College, the Honda Campus All-star Challenge team, and was a Ronald E. McNair Research Fellow. In the fall, Rachel will be attending Wichita State University perusing a PhD in Human Factors.

Briana Wills is a fall 2019 James T. George School of Business graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Briana is from Durham, North Carolina. As a student, Briana participated as a member of the Freddye T. Davy Honors College, the Black College Business Women’s Connection, and the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society. In addition, Briana is the owner and founder of BeeSol Business Academy and BeeSol Shoetique, which she started as a student in 2019 and 2017, respectively. As a graduate, Briana has accepted an offer to work as a Consulting Analyst with Accenture.

W. Adrian Freeman Award Recipient

Ms. Ashanti Sallee, who will be attending Rice University for a PhD in Materials Science and Nanoengineering, has received the W. Adrian Freeman Award. This award is administered annually by the President’s Office. Awarded since the 1962-63 academic year, it is designated for a graduating senior who has applied for advanced study at an accredited graduate school, with a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

Ashanti is a 2020 graduate of the School of Science with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. Ashanti is from Chesapeake, Virginia. As a student, Ashanti participated as a member of the Freddye T. Davy Honors College (2019-2020 President), the Chemistry Club, the Jolie Afrique Dance Team, and the African Student Association.

Honors Day

The Hampton University Honors Council has celebrated University Honors Day annually since 1975. The Forty Fifth Annual Celebration was cancelled due to the pandemic, but President Harvey and the Council are excited to celebrate the achievements of our students in the virtual medium.  All of the students listed here have achieved academic heights and exhibit The Standard of Excellence: http://docs.hamptonu.edu/?document=6C64D8B2-BEAF-8E4D-64AC877A7110A786

President’s Letter to Graduating Seniors May 8, 2020

In a letter to the class of 2020, President Harvey said these words to the class:

“As you depart Hampton University, I challenge you, each in your own way, to allow your academic experiences at Hampton to serve as the foundation upon which you build productive careers. Allow your social interactions with faculty, staff, administrators, and your fellow students to guide you as you interact with individuals in the workplace and in society, and allow the University’s commitment to you to be a model for your commitment back to yourself, your family, your community, and your alma mater. 

It is my desire for you to live richly, satisfying personal lives filled with love and laughter, to find ways to make your community a better place for yourselves and your neighbors, to grow and to continue learning for the rest of your lives.  Remember that you are conquerors, and you have the courage and the strength to overcome every obstacle set before you. 

Graduates, each of you has successfully completed multiple years of rigorous training and skill development to earn your degree.  You have proven your readiness for success.  You have done well.  Now, you have a different job to do, for the greatest things have not been done.  The greatest picture has not been painted.  The greatest book has not been written.  The greatest song is yet unsung.  There is a job for you, graduating Class of 2020, in every occupation known to man.  It is your responsibility to make something happen!           

My charge to you is to see the horizon not as a limit, but as an invitation.  The torch has been passed to you with the expectation that you will hold it higher and carry it farther than those who walked before you.  My solemn hope and greatest wish, as you depart our Home by the Sea, is that you do for the world what your alma mater has done for you— impart knowledge, share your wisdom, nurture and guide, and maintain the highest ethical standards in all that you do.  Be true to yourselves and hone that truth in others.

I congratulate you on what you have already achieved, and I rejoice, for I truly believe that the world will be made better because of the Hampton University Class of 2020. The world is waiting for you. Serve it and Hampton well. Be safe. Be strong. Be positive.”   

To see this letter in its entirety, click here: http://news.hamptonu.edu/release/President%27s-Letter-to-Graduating-Seniors-May-8%2C-2020

Hampton University plans to honor the 2020 class achievements during a graduation ceremony in the fall. If conditions permit, the ceremony will be held on Sunday, September 27, 2020.

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