Grambling State awards 342 diplomas during fall commencement, including a

historic seven doctoral degrees


One by one, Kevin Sly and six other Grambling State University students rose from their seats, walked across the stage and were hooded by President Rick Gallot as newly minted graduates of the school’s doctoral degree program. The group of seven made history as the largest single class of doctoral graduates in the institution’s history. dr. frederick d. haynes, III

During the Friday (Dec. 15) commencement at Fredrick C. Hobby Assembly Center, Sly, 57, was one of 342 students awarded diplomas for successful undergraduate and graduate studies. Sly, a faculty member at GSU’s College of Business, spent several years doing double duty, teaching and studying, to make this dream come true.

Born in Hodge, Louisiana, the Ruston, Louisiana, resident works in the computer information systems department as a CIS instructor. He started actively pursuing his doctoral journey in 2011, after a major career change. “My wife encouraged me to use to the time to complete my degree,” he recalled. “Twelve years as an Air Force officer, 16 years as a college instructor and 16 years as an ordained minister have taught me to persevere.” doctoral candidatesDSC_6992 copy

“It’s been a long journey,” he added, “but I was able to see it through.”

Not all of the seven worked their academic journey locally, however. Robin Ozz, president of the National Association for Developmental Education and director of developmental education and innovation at Phoenix College, did the majority of her course work online from Arizona. A Detroit, Michigan, native, she started the program in 2012 and Friday’s commencement was a happy culmination. She said she’s “proud to be an alum of the finest college in developmental education in the world.”

kevin sly DSC_7139 copy Sly and Ozz joined Rosemary Agbor of Austell, Georgia; Mary Jane Cahee of Ruston, Louisiana; Christine Crowder of St. Louis, Missouri; Rudolph Ellis of Belize City, Belize, and Cynthia Hester of Shreveport, Louisiana, to make up the historic doctoral group. cynthia hester DSC_7125 copy

The graduates, family, friends, faculty, staff and other students heard the Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes deliver an inspirational speech about perseverance and setting goals for one’s self while helping others.

He told a story about Harriett Tubman’s slave overseer throwing a metal object at her and causing her to have blackout spells for the rest of her life. When she became the underground railroad conductor for which she is famous, he said she didn’t let that stop her from going back to reach others, even when she had blackouts. “Once you get yours, don’t forget to go back and dismantle the system that tried to hold you back.”

Using Tubman as one of his metaphors for pursuing success and helping others, Haynes, senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, imagined Tubman telling him what he should tell the Grambling State graduates: ”As long as I was conscious, I was working for God. As long as I was unconscious, God was working for me.”DSC_7381 copy

The graduates in Grambling weren’t the only ones listening to Haynes as he delivered his talk to several standing ovations. Because head football coach Broderick Fobbs, his coaches and the G-Men football team are playing for the HBCU national championship in Saturday’s Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, another group of graduates participated in an off-site commencement program at the AT&T Midtown Center. Star running back Martez Carter was one of several football program student-athletes to walk across the stage in a multipurpose room with several others who were joined by Fobbs, GSU officials, family and friends.


GallotHaynesHendersonGraduationDec2017.DSC_6946 copyGradsCheerDec2017.DSC_7206 copy