Morgan State University’s graduating class was feted by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who heralded the school’s successes in 2013, then congratulated several stellar graduates for their own accomplishments.

The event took place on May 18. It was the 137th time the university had gathered together to celebrate the commencement of students who had successfully completed one of its programs.

“It’s been a year of many triumphs for Morgan’s students,” Duncan told the audience. “For the second year in a row, Morgan State’s team won the HBCU Honda Academic Quiz Challenge, besting teams from 48 HBCUs. The brilliant captain of the Honda All Stars, Craig Cornish, is heading to Princeton on a full-ride to get a Ph.D. in History. The acrobatic, gravity-defying Cheer Bears won the MEAC cheer title for the third year in a row—and even managed to come in third nationally.”

Then he singled out senior Christian Kameni, who became the 131st MSU student or faculty member to become a Fulbright Scholar. That cements MSU’s leadership as the university that has produced more Fulbright Scholars than any HBCU in the nation, he said. He also acknowledged Professor Yacob Astatke, an MSU alum, who became the first African-American and the first faculty member from an HBCU to win the National Outstanding Teacher Medal from the America Society for Engineering.

His words stirred both soon-to-be graduates and guests alike, who frequently interrupted Duncan to applaud his points. The honorees sat patiently, waiting for the moment when they would officially become graduates.

“Represent your families and your extended MSU family with great pride,” Duncan told the audience as he concluded. “You inspire us and give us great hope for the future. Congratulations! And good luck!”

Graduating senior Brian Waters told the AFRO: “Mr. Duncan was very inspirational. I feel good about graduating. I had great professors at Morgan that really prepared me for the real world.”

According to the university’s website, Kameni graduated from Parkdale High School in Prince George’s County four years ago. He credited the university for motivating him to strive to achieve. He served as vice-president of the MSU Golden Key Honor Society this academic year and is a member of Alpha Kappa Mu and Pi Delta Phi, the French National Honor Society, according to the website.

“I was impressed with the campus, it felt like a family and I felt at home,” he said of his experience at Morgan. “I was a bit shy, and I wasn’t involved when I first arrived, so I felt like it was a boring school. Eventually, I started meeting people who were the total opposite of me. They helped me to break out of my shell, to network and I got involved little by little. I joined the , started going to more social activities. I went from being all the way reserved, to a bit less than that.”

Kameni said a French professor recommended the Fulbright program to him.


Courtney Jacobs

AFRO Staff Writer