Dear Jackson State University Community,
As we approach this commencement season, I am filled with a tremendous amount of pride and gratitude – two sentiments that I hope this year’s graduates feel as well.
I am proud of each and every student who will don their cap and gown and walk across the stage to receive their well-earned Jackson State University diplomas. When the Class of 2022 matriculated to campus in fall 2018, they never could have anticipated navigating a college career amidst a global pandemic. I swell with pride whenever I consider the resilience and fortitude every one of these students exhibited, and I hope that they feel a similar sense of self-fulfillment in earning their degrees.
Of course, becoming a college graduate is a personal achievement. These students deserve to have their individual names emblazoned on their diplomas. However, we would do well to remember that we never undertake these journeys alone.
I am immensely grateful to every person who helped this year’s graduates make it to this day. From their family and faculty members to the JSU staff and their fellow students, each graduate depends on the support of countless people who help them in ways large and small, seen and unseen.
In particular, I would like to make a special note of gratitude to all the donors whose generosity provided scholarships and financial aid to students in need. While we are right to congratulate this year’s graduates for their resilience, we must also acknowledge that it is not a lack of resilience that causes many students to fall short. More often than not, a student’s failure to graduate is due to a lack of support. There are many JSU students whose journeys end prematurely because of financial considerations. That is why we must pay a special tribute to those who help eliminate financial barriers from our students’ pathways. Without these donors and friends of the university, many would not receive the support they need and deserve.
To the Class of 2022, as you prepare to transition from JSU students to alumni, hold onto this combination of pride and gratitude that you must be feeling in this moment – pride in your achievements and gratitude for those who helped make them possible. This delicate balance of hubris and humility is required for any journey you undertake. I hope that, as you look forward to your future, you will give back to a place so integral to your past. Please consider supporting your local alumni chapters so that students, like you, get the support needed to make it to graduation day.
Once again, congratulations to the Class of 2022.
Thomas K. Hudson