By Charise Wallace, Special to the AFRO

Bowie State University held its spring 2018 commencement May 22 at the Xfinity Center on the University of Maryland College Park’s campus.

Students cheered, danced and others smiled from ear-to-ear before and after receiving their degrees: College of Business, College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Professional Studies.

Students at Bowie State University’s spring 2018 commencement on May 22. (Photo by Brigette White)

The address opened with the professor of history, Dr. B. Lewis and continued with the 10th president and first female to lead the historical institution, Dr. Aminta H. Breaux.

“You are my first May, spring graduating class since I was appointed president,” Breaux said while the crowd cheered her on. “I am pleased to say that I am part of the fabric of this university.”

In memory of the late Lt. Richard Collins III, the class of 2018 had a moment of silence for his murder as he was set to graduate with his class of 2017. “Please keep his family in your thoughts as they continue to mourn the loss of a son and a brother…I made a promise to the family and his parents that we would never forget Richie,” said Breaux.

Senior class president Israel Ibidapo emphasized to the graduates the importance of obtaining a degree and that reaching ones next goal of success is not always a rat race. His address led with “What’s next?”

“When you walk out of those doors to your family they are all going to ask that big question, Ibidapo said. “Ya’ll know what two words I’m talking about now…say it with me, ’What’s next?’”

“It’s funny that we live in a society where we expect everything to just happen within a blink of an eye,” he said. “We spend so much time allowing fear and comparison to trip us when we have know idea of the perfect plans that land right before us. There is so much room for all of us at the top.”

“My biggest testimony is that I truly know Jesus,” he added. It was a distinct yet similar message that was embellished on dozens of the graduates caps and gowns, including Ibidapo.

Eunique Jones Gibson, a Bowie state alumna and founder and publisher of the “Because of Them We Can” campaign, delivered the keynote address.

“You thought about, you prayed about and you dreamt about yet many of you have…and as tempting as it maybe for you to be wondering about what’s next, you have to take time to process and to be thankful for what’s now,” said Gibson.

Mister Bowie State, Kyle Jones. shared his final thoughts after graduating.

“At first I was nervous, now I’m excited, I feel like doing a back flip if I could,” he told the AFRO. “I’m ecstatic. I worked hard four years…I made it. I made it. Also, seeing people that I’ve known graduate, knowing people’s struggles and knowing they made it, that made me happy as well.”