Governor Edwards, Senator Cleo Fields to speak for commencement exercises

Events to be streamed live on Grambling State’s YouTube page

GRAMBLING, La. – April 6, 2021 – Grambling State University will host two esteemed speakers for its Spring 2021 commencement exercises. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards will speak Wednesday, April 14. Louisiana State Senator Cleo Fields (D-14) will serve as the speaker for the Thursday, April 15 ceremony.

Set to begin at 9 a.m. each day, the events will be held at Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center for graduates and their families. The ceremonies will also be streamed live on Grambling State’s YouTube channel.

Governor John Bel Edwards

The son of a sheriff and charity hospital nurse, Gov. Edwards understood the importance of serving others from an early age. From his service as an active duty Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army to his time in the Louisiana House of Representatives, Edwards has always put people first. After graduating top of his class, he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Edwards graduated from West Point in 1988, commissioning as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served on active duty for eight years, earning Airborne, Ranger, and Jumpmaster status, culminating with command of a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He and first lady Donna Edwards married in 1989. They have three children: Samantha Bel, Sarah Ellen, and John Miller.

After retiring from the army with the rank of captain, Edwards moved back home and earned a law degree from Louisiana State University before opening a civil law practice in his hometown of Amite.

In 2008, the people of House District 72 elected him to the Louisiana House of Representatives, where he represented the people of Amite, Greensburg, Kentwood, and Hammond for eight years before being elected governor in November 2015.

On January 11, 2016, John Bel Edwards was sworn in as the 56th governor of Louisiana.
In his first official act, Gov. Edwards signed an executive order to expand Medicaid coverage to 430,000 of the state’s working poor – saving lives and improving the quality of life for citizens across the state.

Gov. Edwards inherited the largest budget deficit in Louisiana’s history and past issues including cuts to higher education and vital state resources and services.

Gov. Edwards and a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers worked hard to stabilize the state’s budget through a balanced approach. Today, higher education funding has been restored, the state’s gross domestic product is the highest it’s ever been and Louisiana’s budget is balanced and stable. On November 16, 2019, the people of Louisiana re-elected Gov. Edwards to another four-year term. On January 13, 2020, he was sworn into his second term.

Senator Cleo Fields

Senator Cleo Fields is a 1980 graduate of McKinley High School and a 1984 graduate of Southern University in the field of Mass Communications. In 1987, Fields obtained his law degree from the Southern University Law Center. Upon completion of law school, Fields was elected to the Louisiana State Senate at the age of 24. He became the youngest person ever elected to the State Senate in Louisiana’s history and at that time, the youngest in the nation.
In 1992, Fields was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Louisiana’s 4th Congressional district. At the age of 29, Fields was the youngest member of the 103rd Congress. In 1993, he created a Congressional Classroom for elementary through secondary school-age students. Noted for being the first of its kind in the country, the Congressional Classroom helped students develop leadership and self-esteem while understanding the governmental process. It is known today as the Louisiana Leadership Institute.

In 1995, he made a bid for governor of Louisiana, leaving a historical mark by becoming the first African American since reconstruction to make the runoff. He then went on to complete two terms as congressman. On December 13, 1997, Fields returned to the 14th Senatorial District of Louisiana and served until 2008. On October 12, 2019, Fields was re-elected to the 14th Senatorial District of Louisiana, making history again by becoming the first person in Louisiana to return to the senate for the third time. He currently serves as chair of the Committee on Education. Fields is a member of the Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. He is married to Debra and they have two sons, Brandon and Christopher.

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About Grambling State University

Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901 that combines the academic strengths of a major university with the benefits of a small college. This combination enables students to grow and learn in a serene and positive environment. The 590-acre campus offers 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. A member of the University of Louisiana System, Grambling State University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. With a longstanding tradition of excellence, Grambling State University continues to emphasize the value and importance of each student, exemplified by our motto: Where Everybody Is Somebody.