Golden Graduate Reunion Fuels Reflection, Investment for Class of 1974

 

Grambling, La. – May 17, 2024 – It is not often you get the opportunity to celebrate with classmates of 50 years during Commencement. The last class of Grambling College, 29 Golden Graduates, and their families came together for a once-in-a-lifetime class reunion at Grambling State University.

Dr. Shirley Newton and her daughter Chelsea Newton packed their bags and came from Maryland to be a part of a Golden Experience.

“I loved my time here and made many lifelong friends. I have no bad memories at Grambling,” Dr. Newton said. “One of my greatest memories was the Isley Brothers and Bobby Womack. Being a young Black girl from a small town in Mississippi, I could not believe these experiences were possible.”

The graduates reconnected at a continental breakfast at the Eddie Robison Museum. Touring the museum, seeing statues, and historical stories sparked interest. Sharing memories and seeing familiar faces took the graduates back to a time they would never forget.

Ellis Spikes received the opportunity to attend Grambling State on a work-study scholarship. Born from a family of 11 siblings in the small town of Bancroft, Louisiana, Mr. Spikes was excited to express his gratitude for the opportunities Grambling presented to him.

“I worked under Dean Ellis in the Pinchback dorm. I had some good times.” Spikes said. “One thing I can always appreciate is the definition the faculty gave us of hard work.” “During our time we had to face our grades being changed, the educational system was against us,” Spikes said. “We had to work 10 times harder for our education when college was not presented to us.” “Grambling opened those doors for new experiences and opportunities,” Spikes said. “Grambling made me. My granddaughter will be attending Grambling on a basketball scholarship Fall semester.”

The graduates took an exclusive tour around campus seeing the changes that were made within 50 years.

Louis Jenkins was proud to speak on the expectations from his professor and President.

“The professors did not expect failure from us, their expectations were for us to conquer and succeed,” Jenkins said. “President Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones delivered a message to me that sticks with me until this day. [President Jones] said, ‘You cannot talk about black power without having power. You have to require power and that is through education.”

Internships and OCS Navy training provided through Grambling College allowed Jenkins to adapt well to corporate business.

“I studied FORTRAN and COBOL programming languages. During our time card punching was one of the most popular programming systems,” Jenkins said. “The internships were impactful because I gained more experience, including the opportunity from the Navy. I received my first job from an internship provided by Grambling State University,” Jenkins said.

Golden Graduates also viewed a ‘Remember the Times Reel’, that reflected on the climate and culture of the campus and nation. Before their class meeting, they were gifted a 50th-anniversary box that included several commemorative keepsakes.

Gregory Smith, who was successful for 44 years as an accountant, implemented two ERP systems with JD Edwards and SAP (System Applications and Products). He enjoyed his time seeing familiar faces and reflected on how he chose his profession.

“My first assignment was to go to the library and look in the occupational handbook.” “The first occupation I saw was accounting,” Smith said. “I was good at bookkeeping so I decided on accounting as my major and I do not regret it,” Smith said.

Smith also expressed his inspiration from motivational speakers and moments that have changed his life.

“The guest speakers were the best experiences for me. We had Angela Davis, Dick Gregory, and Vine Deloria Jr,” Smith said. “My first year of college 10 football players were drafted into the NFL. Eddie Robinson and President Emerson Jones put Grambling on the map.”

As the day ended, the beginning of a beautiful night began. The Golden Graduates danced the night away at The Golden Experience. A night of smiles, laughter, and new memories were added to their Grambling experience.
Ethyl Moy-Moore is a successful tax accountant in Monroe, Louisiana. She was thrilled to see the innovative changes made at Grambling State University.

“Being an educator or a secretary were the only options for women during my time. My goal was to finish high school, go to trade school, and get a job,” Moy-Moore said.

When Moy-Moore recognized that she had top grades in her class during high school. A teacher recognized her excellence and pushed her to consider college. Her teacher’s husband was a professor at tech, where she was accepted but Moy-Moore was interested in Grambling College.

“I told my teacher if I was going to a college I was going Grambling,” Moy-Moore said.

The teacher’s husband connected with professors at Grambling which led to her acceptance and success.

“I did not plan on being at Grambling long, but when I finally got there I quickly changed my mind,” Moy-Moore said. “I pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. During that time Accounting was a male-dominated major,” Moy-Moore said. “The dean wanted to meet me and Minnie Ethridge-Beal, the two women graduating at the top of accounting. He told us usually no one has graduated in accounting less than 5 years, he was not sure if we could graduate. After three years and two summers, I and Ethridge-Beal completed accounting with magna cum laude and cume laude.”

Remonia Hudson, a native of Grambling, Louisiana, raised three daughters during her years as a GSU student. After the workforce, Husdon decided to further her education by attending Grambling College. Being a non-traditional student while being a mother, Hudson pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., graduated cum laude, and received two master’s degrees.

“I had my first child at 16,” Hudson said. “After getting married and having two more children I worked for four years. After nickeling and diming from my job I decided that that lifestyle was not for me and my family. My routine became going to class, seeing my children, and going to work,” Hudson said. “It was not easy but with family support, support from my sorority, and the grace of God I made it through. I have always told my children that getting an education is a guaranteed way to success. Grambling has allowed me to go farther. Age, gender, and circumstances do not limit you to what you can do.”

Hudson’s daughter De’Varia Ponton was elated to stand beside her mother to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her college graduation.

“She started a legacy for us. She was the first to graduate in the family,” Ponton said. “We are all graduates with advanced degrees and I can thank my mom for blazing that path. She has a granddaughter here at Grambling now that crossed Delta Iota.” “It is not if you go to college, it is where and Grambling is the place to be.”

Seeing their wives, husbands, children, and grandchildren who were not present 50 years ago made those hours of traveling worthwhile. Their families watched a line of Golden achievers walk in and take their place in Grambling State University’s Spring 2024 Commencement Exercise. Louisiana State Senator Cleo Fields presented the graduates with an impactful and encouraging speech. The moment finally came when everything the graduates overcame and conquered was worth it as they received their commemorative 50th anniversary degrees. Including a granddaughter participant accepting a diploma on the behalf of her late grandmother Carolyn Collier.

The graduates ended their Golden experience at McCall Dining Hall with a Luncheon presented by SodexoMagic. While some graduates won gift cards from SodexoMagic, the greatest award was the $17,590.00 gift given by the Class of 1974 to their alma mater.