Grambling State confers 427 degrees during Spring 2024 graduation

Louisiana State Sen. Cleo Fields is pictured speaking during Friday’s Spring 2024 Commencement Exercises.

Louisiana State Sen. Cleo Fields told 427 new Grambling State University (GSU) graduates to remember they are all somebody who can change the world for the better as he served as the keynote speaker for Spring 2024 Commencement Exercises inside the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

It was the first graduation ceremony serving as new GSU President for Dr. Martin Lemelle, who officially took over the helm of the university on April 1.

“As you embark on your journey from our campus, remember that true success is not merely about reaching your goal, but about sustaining excellence through commitment and continuous improvement,” Dr. Lemelle said. “As graduates of Grambling State University, you carry with you the legacy of resilience, determination, and innovation.

GSU President Dr. Martin Lemelle is pictured flanked by two of the university’s three Spring 2024 valedictorians — Ariel Box (left) and Jordan Braithwaite (right).

“Armed with knowledge and skills acquired during your time here, I have full confidence that each of you will go forth and make a lasting impact in your respective fields, transforming challenges into opportunities and turning aspirations into achievements.”

Dr. Lemelle then told the new graduates that their journey from good to great was now underway.

“Embrace the challenges ahead, stay true to your values, and strive for excellence in all of your endeavors,” Dr. Lemelle said. “The world is waiting for the greatness that lies within each and every one of you.”

Fields based much of his speech on Grambling State’s motto — “Where Everybody is Somebody.”

“They tell you when you’re a freshman that you don’t know and you know you don’t know,” Fields said. “When you’re a sophomore you don’t know but you think you know. When you’re a junior you know but really don’t know you know. But when you’re a graduating senior from Grambling State University, you know, and you know you know.

“Grambling State University, a place where everybody is somebody. That is your motto. When you were greeted as freshman, that was your motto, and today as you leave, that will be your motto as well.”

Fields then told the crowd the Merriam-Webster definition of somebody when the word is used as a noun — a person of position or importance.

Believing and knowing you’re someone — somebody — of importance is the key, Fields told the graduates.

GSU conferred 427 degrees during its Spring 2024 graduation ceremonies.

“You’ve got to believe you’re somebody,” Fields said. “You’ve got to apply for that job believing you’re somebody. And then when you go to work every day, you have to believe that you’re somebody. I just stopped by today, graduates, to tell you that you’re somebody. And there’s nothing you cannot do if you put your mind to it.

“There’s a person who can cure cancer sitting here in this graduating class right here and right now. There’s a person who can solve national or international problems in the world sitting in this class right here, right now. So I say to you now, new graduates, it is your turn to question and examine, to dispute and to dare, to watch and to learn, to redirect, rearrange and to transform and to influence and inform to change. It is your turn to change because you are somebody.”

Grambling recognized its three Spring 2024 valedictions during the ceremony — Ariel Box, a Denver graduate who picked up her degree in criminal justice with a concentration in paralegal studies; Jordan A. Braithwaite, a St.  Louis native who earned her history with a concentration in law degree; and Joan Tran, computer science graduate from Lafayette, Louisiana.


Being honored with Presidential Leadership Awards were 2023-24 Student Government Association President Alexa Johnson, a pre-med biology with a concentration in child development and early literacy graduate from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and 2023-24 Miss Grambling Madison Johnson, a Mass Communication graduate from Garland, Texas.


Also honored were Grambling’s “Golden Graduates,” graduates from GSU’s Class of 1974 who were celebrating the 50th anniversary of their commencement program.