The Class of 2023 at Edward Waters University has set the bar high for next year’s graduates.
During EWU’s commencement ceremony, attendees witnessed one of the HBCU’s largest graduating classes after graduates from the University’s first-ever Master in Business Administration program received their degrees along with those who completed their bachelor’s degrees.
According to the Jacksonville Free Press, out of the 133 total graduates, 110 students graduated with their bachelor’s and 23 graduates were awarded Master’s Degrees. The graduating class completed their studies across various concentrations, including Business Administration, Communications, Mass Communications, Music Concentration, Biology, Criminal Justice, and Psychology.
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“You didn’t graduate today to go backwards. But the degree you now hold should indeed propel you to go forward,” EWU President and CEO A. Zachary Faison, Jr. told the graduates. “We all share in your momentous achievement this morning, your journey to fulfill your ultimate destiny has only just begun!”
Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and Chief Executive Officer of United Negro College Fund (UNCF), addressed the dedication and resilience of the graduates in his commencement speech, reminding them how significant they are in today’s workforce.
EWU recognized biology major Brianna Pendergrass as the Class of 2023‘s valedictorian. Pendergrass is set to attend Brown University in the fall to pursue her Ph.D. through the institution’s Molecular and Cell Biology program. According to the valedictorian’s Instagram page, she is excited about the legacy she leaves behind as the first Miss Edward Waters University and Nu Iota Chapter President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and is looking forward to her future. “In AKAland my sisters call me Ivy League, but now I’ve made it official💕 Thank you “Dear old Edward Waters” for making my dreams a REALITY,” Pendergrass captioned a graduation photo.
The University also recognized Onecia Adams as this year’s salutatorian. Also completing her studies as a biology major, Adams is preparing to work as a research assistant at the University of North Florida with the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience program.
According to EWU, the HBCU, formerly named Edward Waters College when it was founded in 1866 by African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church members, is the first independent institution of higher learning for African Americans in Florida.