May 13, 2009

Natalie Quinn, Student Intern

African American Studies Honors Students at Annual SankofaCelebration

VALDOSTA - Valdosta State University celebrated the accomplishments of the 2009 African American Studies graduates and professors at the Eighth Annual Sankofa Celebration at 6 p.m. Friday, May 8, in Powell Hall.

Wearing ethnic kente cloth stoles representing their heritage, the graduating students listened to poetry presentations and African drumming. Crystal Banks, a graduating senior, mesmerized the audience with her rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Heroes.”

Inspirational speakers included Dr. Calvin Walker, associate professor in VSU's OASIS program and AAS, Jeanice Benefield, assistant program chair, Lauren Davis, the first African American female Student Government Association president, Jasmine Calhoun, senior Sankofa program chair, Dr. Jewrell Rivers, professor of sociology and AAS, Stanley Jones, interim registrar, and Dr. Shirley H. Hardin, AAS program director.

According to Hardin, the term “Sankofa” literally means, “looking back while going forward” and is the mythical Sankofa bird which files forward while looking back - using the past as his guide to planning the future. The event encouraged graduates to recognize their parents, teachers and the ancestors for supporting their educational journey and accomplishments.

Napoleon Bamfo, political science professor, gave the closing meditation by speaking parts of a prayer in Akan, the authentic Ghanian language from which the term “Sankofa” is derived.

During the multi-cultural graduation reception, the following awards for their hard work and success:

Shani McArthur, a senior marketing major from Valdosta, was named African American Studies Student of the Year.

Courtnee Hawkins, general studies major from Covington, was named African American Studies Student of the Year.

Lauren Davis, SGA president and business management major from Stone Mountain, received a Sankofa Award

LaKeasha Brown , Black Student League president and mass media major from McDonough, received a Sankofa Award

Dr. Shani Gray, associate professor of criminal justice, was named
African American Studies Teacher of the Year

Jasmine Calhoun, Sankofa 2009 coordinator and biology major from Thomasville, received an appreciation plaque

Dr. Jewrell Rivers, professor and speaker for the occasion, received appreciation plaque

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