Georgia Tech, Diploma, The Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia Tech’s First Black Graduate Fulfills Legacy By Handing Granddaughter Diploma Nearly 60 Years Later

Yancey made history as the first Black person to obtain their degree from the university in 1965.

Georgia Tech’s first Black graduate, Ronald Yancey, fulfilled his legacy by awarding his granddaughter her college diploma at this year’s commencement on May 3.

According to Atlanta News First, Yancey made history in 1965 as the first Black person to obtain a degree from the university. A statue symbolizes the alum’s accomplishment inside Clough Commons on campus.

However, his legacy continues through his granddaughter, Deanna Yancey. The 2024 graduate took part in the time-honored tradition upon receiving her master’s at her grandfather’s alma mater. For the younger Yancey, furthering her education at the school where her grandfather made history was a no-brainer.

“He’s broken barriers and he’s opened doors that I will never have to experience opening myself,” explained the doting granddaughter, who studied electrical and computer engineering. “So, Georgia Tech, in my opinion, is just one of the top engineering schools in the nation.”  

She added, “It’s just beyond me how someone could be so strong in such a hard time.” 

The school invited Yancey to bestow his successor with her diploma at McCamish Pavilion. Deanna expressed her gratitude for sharing the moment with her grandfather, who forged the way to the news outlet.

“I couldn’t thank Georgia Tech enough,” she shared.

Other Black students at Georgia Tech know of Yancey’s strength and bravery in pursuing his education. Azeh Ndifor also shared how “The First Graduate” has impacted his academic journey.

“Being the first anything is never easy,” expressed Adeh Ndifor. “You know, seeing this statue when I come through here all the time for class, it’s just a reminder of what I’m working towards…He kind of paved the path, because without this, I wouldn’t be here.”

Yancey remains integral to Georgia Tech’s Black history and can now add another member to his esteemed legacy.

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