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Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness (r) -- the first-ever Head of State to give a DSU Commencement keynote -- received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during the Graduate Commencement Ceremony.
In this photo: Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness (r) – the first-ever Head of State to give a DSU Commencement keynote – received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during the Graduate Commencement Ceremony.
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2024 Commencement Ceremonies – article and photos

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Historic highlights of Delaware State University’s 2024 Commencement Ceremonies included the first-ever Head of State to give a graduation keynote address at DSU and the largest graduation class in the institution’s history, with the highest grade point average ever.

The afternoon Graduate Commencement Ceremony, held in the Dr. William B. DeLauder Education and Humanities Theatre, featured Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness as its keynote speaker.

The morning Undergraduate Commencement, held outdoors at Alumni Stadium, heard Calvin Butler, CEO and President of the energy provider Exelon, give the keynote address.

For images of the Graduate Commencement Ceremony, click on the below link:


For images of the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony, click on the below link:


In addition to speaking before the master’s and doctoral graduates, Prime Minister Holness also addressed men and women from Jamaica – as 38 of those doctoral degrees were from DSU’s Educational Leadership Program in that country.

Prime Minister Holness shared some advice from his life and professional experience in developing the best perspective to deal with challenges, obstacles and struggles.

“Obstacles are sometimes stepping stones. Challenges are usually opportunities to be discovered. Our struggles are oftentimes exercises to make us stronger,” Prime Minister Holness said. “Our point of view, our perception… can benefit immensely by approaching our problems from a different point of view. To achieve this, we must accept that regardless of how much knowledge we believe we possess, there is still more to learn. So, we must open our minds to new ideas. We must seek advice and have the patience to listen and learn from the experience of others.”

The Prime Minister noted that humility is required to step from a problem and see it through the eyes of others.

“This is how we gain perspective, the holistic view, the ability to see the picture through the eyes of others, and the ability to see the picture outside the frame. That’s perspective,” Prime Minister Holness said. “With perspective, we can make more thoughtful decisions and find elegant solutions in moving forward.”

DSU President Tony Allen presented the Graduate Leadership Excellence Award to Uchenna Okorie, who graduated with a Master’s degree in Mathematics.

During the Undergraduate Commencement, Dr. Allen pointed out the challenges the Class of 2024 faced in their DSU academic journey.Exelon CEO Calvin Butler, the morning Commencement keynote speaker, also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

“In addition to being the largest class in Delaware State University’s 133-year history, you have the distinction of being the most resilient class that has ever graduated from this grand institution. You walked in against enormous odds: the beginning of a global pandemic, a country dealing with a long-fought legacy of civil rights, a political divide that still plagues us today,” Dr. Allen said.

“But you are leaving as a class with collectively the highest GPA in Delaware State University’s history,” the DSU President noted.

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long told the graduating seniors that the importance of their future is not only what they have become with their degrees, “but what you continue to contribute to your community.”

In his keynote address, Mr. Butler – one of only eight African American CEOs of a Fortune 500 company – noted that something Dr. Allen said to the DSU Hornet men’s basketball team after its close game loss in the MEAC finals also applies to the Class of 2024.These are nine of the 11 graduates who finished with a 4.0 GPA and earned a Presidential Academic Award.

“Remember who you are and where you came from, and what brought you to the moment,” Mr. Butler said. “You are no longer coming. You are here. You are here today, having accomplished what you set out to do. You are the next generation of our country’s leaders.”

Mr. Butler noted that 40% of the Class of 2024 are the first in their families to graduate from college and added that he was also the first in his family to complete college.

“Coming from where so many of us have come from, I believe in you,” Mr. Butler said. “And I expect a lot from you. My expectation of all of you is that you will remember that feeling when someone came through for you. It is now incumbent upon you to give back.”

The following 11 academically perfect undergraduates received the 2024 Presidential Academic Award:

  • Erica Acox, a Biological Sciences graduate from Accokeek, Md.
  • Sydney Teresa Anderson, Mass Communications graduate from Bronx. N.Y.
  • Benjamin Church, a Biological Sciences graduate from Dover, Del.
  • Lydia Daids, a Management graduate from Burlington, N.J.
  • Lauren Davis, a Mass Communications graduate from Wilmington, Del.
  • Abigail Fitzgerald, an Elementary Education graduate from Magnolia, Del.
  • Surmyah Jean-Baptiste, a Nursing graduate from Middletown, Del.
  • Olatz Junquera Lopez, a Management graduate from Mungia, Spain
  • Trinity Moody, a Law Studies graduate from New Castle, Del.
  • Naziah Nelson, a Middle-Level Education graduate.
  • Raven Quander, a Mass Communications major.

In addition to receiving the Presidential Academic Award, Sydney Teresa Anderson was also honored with the 2024 Presidential Leadership Award.

Ms. Anderson put her Mass Communications major knowledge to work when as a member of the DSU Women’s Lacrosse team, she wrote an article for the DSU Hornet student newspaper that received nationwide attention concerning the team’s 2022 encounter with the Liberty County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Department. Without any cause to do so, the law enforcement agency pulled over the team bus in Georgia and searched their luggage belongings during its final road trip that year.

According to the University’s preliminary statistics, more than 1,100 completed their degrees in 2023-2024 – a DSU graduation record – and the undergraduate 3.2 average GPA was also the highest ever.

Posthumous degrees were presented to: Lisa M. Shelton, who was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Finance when she passed away on May 28, 2023; and Dr. Samuel W. Jay, who had already completed his doctoral degree in Educational Leadership when he passed away on Aug. 29, 2023.