GSU Spotlight: Mother-Son Graduates Celebrate 3 Degrees of GSU Legacy

By Stephanie Lindsey & Jovan Hackley

IMG-1002-cropWhen Denise Mack crossed the stage to receive her first degree from Dr. Johnson in the early 90’s, she had no idea she’d share that stage years later with the son she carried the first time around.

“I’m very proud to graduate with Virgil,” says Denise. “I’m most of all proud of him for just graduating and staying focused on his goal. It hasn’t always been easy for him.”

Virgil Mack, who will receive his Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts, grew up in Dubach, Louisiana and worked to beat his neighborhood outlook on a college degree.

“Growing where I’m from there’s not the expectation that you’ll graduate from college. It was a stigma I wanted to overcome. I wanted to break the statistic,” said Mack.

This week, Virgil will not only graduate with a college degree, but he has leveraged his time at Grambling to start on the path to entrepreneurship.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for my first few years at Grambling. I found my love for camera when I was thinking about my hobbies. I wanted to commit to something that didn’t feel like work. Movies were what I liked the most,” said Mack. “My junior year, I invested in a camera and started to doing photos and short videos.”

Today, Virgil is in the second year of running his own photography and video company that captures and edits commercial video for businesses in North Louisiana.

“It was challenging to get him to believe in himself. I knew he could do it,” says Virgil’s mom Denise.

“Seeing him strive to do more, pushed me to do more. Just watching him go through college it encouraged me to go to college.”

This Spring Denise will graduate with a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice after a more than 20-year break from education. Her advice to those who are considering returning to school is, “It’s never too late to pursue your career. If you want to go back to school, I don’t care what your age is, you have to start somewhere. Just give it a try.”

Grambling State University would like to congratulate Denise Mack, Virgil Mack, and all of the Spring 2018 graduates on their great accomplishments and inspiration to Tigers past, present, and future around the world.

GSU Spotlights highlights the accomplishments of students, faculty, and alumni successes throughout the GSU Community. To nominate or provide feedback on GSU highlights, contact the Grambling State University Office of University Communications at