THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. Jada, thank you for that introduction and for your 4.0. How about that? Greetings, Tigers. Greetings to all of you. (Applause.)

And to the members of the board, distinguished faculty, and staff, thank you for this tremendous honor. I cannot say enough about the president of this university, Dr. Glenda Glover. (Applause.)

Dr. Glover, you have been a tremendous friend to me for many years, and I thank you for your leadership. And Tennessee State is extremely fortunate to have you as its leader. To the class of 2022: Congratulations to all of you. (Applause.)

And we are, of course, joined today by your professors and your coaches
and university staff who have been by your side for every step of this journey. Let’s give them another round of applause. (Applause.)

And to all of the families and the loved ones who are here — the parents and the grandparents, the aunties and the uncles, the godparents: I thank you. I thank you I know over these last years, it has been you who have delivered the care packages, who have offered up a place to do laundry. You spent money when they called you and said, “I need a little bit for books or maybe my sorority dues.” (Applause.)

And through it all, you were just a phone call or a text away. And to all of you — to all of you in these stands: These graduates are your legacy. When they walk across this stage today and receive their diploma, you will walk with them. And I recognize the pride in your eyes. I can see it from here.

Graduates, I know it has been a long, hard road, but you all made it. You made it. And right now, I’m going to ask you to take a moment. Take moment and look to your left and look to your right. And take a good look at the folks sitting around you right now. These are the folks who have been by your side, literally and virtually, since your first day as a Tiger. Together, you all have been through $10 Tuesdays at Slim & Husky’s. (Laughter.)

Together, you all have been through last-minute scrambles to memorize a speech for freshman Public Speaking. Together, you have been through the return to campus and, just as importantly, through the return to in-person homecoming.

You made it through together. I speak from personal experience when I say — hear me now — there are future members of your wedding party in this class. Someone sitting near you will ask you to be godparent to their child.
Over the years, you will reach out to some of the people around you when you’ve had a bad day or a great one, and they will reach out to you,