Echoes

New Beginnings

LaTasha Murphy's commencement story.

by LaTasha Murphy (BA '14)
Three students in regalia with president Frederick

 The excitement spread across the campus. Students were dressed in Bison blue caps and gowns, ready to close out one chapter and begin the next on their journeys. It was Commencement Day, a day that my classmates and I had awaited for so long.

I was not a traditional student and did not take the typical route to Howard after high school. Instead, I went to community college and worked to save up to go to a four-year college. I lived off-campus and most of the people in my class were years younger than me. Our commonality, however, was that Howard University was a place that we all admired and wanted to graduate from. That day had finally come.

It was Saturday, May 10, 2014, and the weather was perfect: not too hot, not too cold, sunny, blue skies, no sign of D.C.’s humidity yet. As I walked in Greene Stadium to line up with my fellow graduates from the School of Communications, I could see nervousness, excitement, and fulfillment on the faces of my peers, all for many reasons: some excited to move on to the next chapter and others nervous because they weren’t sure what the next chapter would be.

As we began to walk towards the yard to hear our commencement speaker, Diddy, we spotted then-interim president, Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick. He was wearing a dark suit and tie in Howard blue-and-red, his pin placed in his suit collar, a wide and welcoming smile on his face. Although I had worked at Howard University while I was a student, I had never met Dr. Frederick. Yet he saw our group standing around in our cap and gowns and came over to congratulate us on our successes. We were both caught off-guard and thrilled at the same time: our interim president was taking interest in us and our individual pursuits, especially during such a momentous and busy day. He chatted with us about our future plans and about our time at Howard. We then asked to take a photo with him, and he obliged, enthusiastically.

Commencement has a way of bringing people together, not only because it was the day that all graduates of that year from different schools and colleges gather to confer their degrees, but because it marks the making of a new day. It was the start of many new beginnings for us. Some of us were going off to start our careers. Others were going back to school to pursue their next degree. This was not the last time I would have the opportunity to chat with Dr. Frederick, as I continued to work at Howard for the next several years, but it was the last time my classmates and I were together in the same place before we moved on. However, at that moment and onward, we were, and still are, Bison forever!

This story appears in the Winter 2022 issue.

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Echoes