GSU VAL ACHIEVES ACADEMIC, ATHLETICS SUCCESS

Meridian, Mississippi, native finds Grambling State is a special place

By REAGAN J. HIGGINS/GSU Media Bureau

Raised by a single mother as the middle child of three girls, Shaciarra Drake was determined to be a successful runner and a successful college student. IMG_0147

The Meridian, Mississippi, native attended Grambling State University, moving from a high school track team to GSU’s track and field team and, on Friday, she graduates as the school’s valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA during a 10 a.m. commencement program at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center. She found out just a few days ago, and the news surprised her.

“It was Sunday at 8:30 at night when I got off work. I was excited but then worried about the speech,” she said. “The feelings of excitement but worry came simultaneously, hitting me all at once.”

It’s an achievement Drake worked hard to gain. “I missed a lot of parties and outings,” she added. “I prayed a lot, and I decided I wanted a 4.0 GPA. I did a lot of prioritizing.”

She is scheduled to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology at 22. While at Grambling State, she has been president of the Psychology and Sociology Club, vice president of Pi Gamma Mu Honor Society, a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, the Earl Lester Cole Honors College and Miss Phi Beta Sigma 2016-2017. As a member of the track team, she won first place in the 100m hurdles and broke the Florida A&M record for that event.

She has been an example of academic excellence, and the university administration has taken note.

“Ms. Drake is a treasured Gramblinite and member of the Earl Lester Cole Honors College,” said Ellen Smiley, university provost and vice president for academic affairs. “She has distinguished herself as a scholar, athlete and a leader.  We are proud of her academic accomplishments and look forward to her continued success.”

After graduation, Drake plans to attend graduate school for a clinical psychology doctorate at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University in New Orleans. She wants to be a clinical psychologist within five years. Drake wants to gain the skills she needs to better help young children.

“I always tutored children since eighth grade,” said Drake. “I found out it was difficult for kids to learn because a lot was going on at home. I was not able to help them when I tutored them, so I decided I would learn how to help them.”

The valedictorian achievement comes with an obligation: a short speech at graduation. With just a few days notice, Drake has been considering what she wants to say. Drake said she will encourage her peers to protect and defend the legacy of Grambling State University. She plans to encourage her fellow graduates to give back to GSU with donations and networking opportunities. Drake lives by a Ghandi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and she wants Gramblinites and others to know that Grambling State is a place where dreams can be achieved.

“Being a student-athlete, doing work study and maintaining a 4.0 GPA, it was easy to get discouraged,” said Drake. “However, my coach and my academic advisor ensured me that I deserve the best, I can do this, to not give up and you’re just as good as anybody else….”

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