Cheyney University Commencement and Keynote Speaker Hill Harper

CHEYNEY, PA – On May 7, 2011, I graduated from my undergraduate degree program and became an official alumna of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the first historically Black institution of higher education (HBCU).

I had the honor of being recognized by the university, as a summa cum laude scholar; by Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society, as a Charter Member of the Omega Pi Chapter and Secretary/Treasurer; by Alpha Kappa Mu, as a member of the Mu Eta chapter; and by the Keystone Honors Academy, as an honors program scholar.

My academic prowess earned me the rank esteem of being the third-ranked student in my class, and with two male class valedictorians, this made me the highest ranked female obtaining a bachelor’s degree, Valedictorian of the Humanities and Communication Arts Department, and No. 3 out of 247 undergraduate students!

I was very happy to receive well-wishes and praise from my fellow students as well as from numerous faculty and staff members as I took my final walk on the Historical Quadrangle of Cheyney University.

cheyney universityIt was truly a commencement to remember! Hill Harper served as keynote speaker and received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Arts from Cheyney University. His keynote was lively and passionate, which I’m not saying because I was in a joyous mood, but because out of all the keynotes I have heard during my undergraduate career, he was the first to make me literally jump up out of my chair and yell in agreement.

Harper shared words that motivated and inspired the entire graduating class to reach beyond the beaten path and carve their own trails and was thanked with a roaring applause upon completing his speech. You can read more about Harper’s speech by clicking here to visit the Cheyney University of Pennsylvania website.

I could not have asked for anything more when it came to the excitement, nervousness, and joy that involved Saturday morning. I don’t know how, but I even ended up being interviewed and quoted by The Philadelphia Tribune as they covered the event.

I am so proud to join the alumni family of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. With almost 175 years of educational history, I feel like I’m truly taking a step into creating my own path and hopefully, I give back to my university by guiding someone else down their developmental path.

For additional photos from the 2011 Cheyney University commencement, please click here.

Yasheaka Oakley Owens

Yasheaka Oakley Owens is the owner of YOakleyPR, a woman-owned small business that provides public relations, social media, and online marketing support services to small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware.

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