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2005 Commencement: Honoring Tradition

By monét cooper

This year’s 121st Commencement promises the same pomp and circumstance that has greeted many men of Morehouse as they transition to Morehouse Men.

We have the same ceremonies and rituals because they represent a distillation of the best of Morehouse College and we want to give each class that,” said Anne Watts, associate vice president of Academic Affairs and chairperson for the Baccalaureate/Commencement Planning Committee. “Commencement means that we’re sending out more young men into the world to bring about change and make a difference.”

Valedictorian, Anderson Morris, a chemistry major from Tacarigua, Trinidad and Tobago, and salutatorian, Joseph Bentsil Martei, a computer science and mathematics major from Achimota, Ghana, called Morehouse a change agent in their lives.

Morris, graduating with a 3.99 grade point average, will work in the TRIO summer program as a chemistry tutor-counselor to teen-age students. Morris said that when he first came to the College four years ago, he was an introvert who concentrated only on academics.

“In Trinidad, the culture is very much about education and competition,” he said. “Here, academics are emphasized, but also the pillars of civility, trust and leadership. It makes you think, ‘Yes, I can make a difference.’”

After the summer, Morris will obtain a university research assistantship before entering graduate school next year.

Martei, graduating with a 3.97 grade point average, will move to Wall Street and work as an IT analyst at Goldman Sachs, an investment banking firm, before going to graduate school in two years. He said that while the computer science classes helped him think logically, the friends he made are what he will think about.

“I’ll miss the brotherhood,” said Martei. “Almost everybody at Morehouse is a leader.”

The devotion to being servant-leaders is reflected in the selection of this year’s Commencement speaker, Judge Glenda Hatchett, Fulton County juvenile court judge and star of syndicated television show “Judge Hatchett.”

“We felt that she represents the kind of commitment to excellence in her profession that we want to emphasize to the seniors as they go out into the world,” said Watts.

The Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant ’94, the baccalaureate speaker, could exemplify that same notion. Just nine years after graduation, Bryant is a minister of the 6,000-member Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, Md.

“It does say to the graduates that they don’t have to wait until they have put a great deal of years behind them. They are expected to achieve and to excel,” said Watts. “There are many other rungs on the ladder. We bring back a young alumnus who has achieved a great deal since he’s left Morehouse. This is a commencement after all. It’s a beginning, not an ending.”

Note: This year, Morehouse College will graduate the largest number of Ph.D. degree holders from Howard University. Howard reports that it produces the largest number of African American Ph.D. degree holders in the nation.

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