Congressman Elijah Cummings Called MSU Graduates to Action
BALTIMORE, Md. – More than 700 bachelor’s candidates and 228 master’s and doctoral candidates received their degrees at Morgan State University’s (MSU’s) jubilant 143rd Spring Commencement Exercises, which included a ceremony for undergraduates held on May 18, and a School of Graduate Studies ceremony on May 16.
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a member of Morgan’s Board of Regents, was the guest speaker for the Undergraduate Ceremony held in Hughes Memorial Stadium on Morgan’s campus, while across town in Baltimore City, the annual Preakness Day festivities were taking place. RetiredNew York Times sports columnist, journalist and author William C. Rhoden of Morgan’s Class of 1973 received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony. More than 100 members of Morgan’s Class of 1969 led the procession into the stadium and were honored as representatives of the 50th anniversary class, a day after announcement of its $1.4 million in giving to the University in 2018, during Morgan’s Alumni Day luncheon.
Morgan’s Class of 2019 was rich with success stories reflecting the diversity that is one the University’s core values and a central part of its stated mission.
Alexis Samuels is a self-described “military kid” and former “nerd,” who was born in Germany and grew up in Texas, Tennessee and in Frederick, Maryland, where she attended a predominantly white high school before following her mother’s and sister’s example to attend an Historically Black College or University (HBCU). A Travelers EDGE scholarship paid her tuition and fees and provided internships with Travelers during her four-year Bachelor of Science program in actuarial science. She has accepted a full-time position as a software engineer with JPMorgan Chase.
“Morgan stood out to me because it was the only school in Maryland that had an actuarial science program,” Samuels said. “…I see why my mom loves her HBCU,” she said, “because I definitely love Morgan.”
Timani Richardson, aged 19, received a Bachelor of Arts in political science during the Spring Commencement. Born and raised in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 7 — a low-income area of the city — she excelled as a student and began earning an associate’s degree at George Washington University during her sophomore year at the School Without Walls high school. She came to Morgan two years ago to earn her bachelor’s. Inspired toward a career in civil and human rights during an international relations course at Morgan, she hopes to work as a paralegal or in government while she prepares to take the LSAT exam and apply for law school at Howard University and several other institutions.
“I definitely wanted to get a bachelor’s from an HBCU,” Richardson said, “and I wanted to have (the) experience of being at a black university.”
Lucas Krusinski, a native of France, arrived at Morgan unable to speak English but determined to play for the men’s tennis team, which is the 2019 MEAC champion. Now fluent in English, and a Class of 2019 valedictorian, he has received his MSU bachelor’s degree in nutritional science and has received two fully funded offers for graduate school to pursue a doctorate in food science at Michigan State University.
Withelma T. Ortiz Walker Pettigrew, a.k.a. T. Ortiz, received her Bachelor of Science in strategic communication, with honors, and has begun full-time work as the anti-trafficking and anti-exploitation coordinator for the Baltimore Child Abuse Center. Her 11-year journey through higher education came after she suffered years of childhood sexual, physical and verbal abuse and had become a nationally recognized advocate for children. A native of Oakland, California, she came to Baltimore homeless in 2014, the same year she was recognized as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”