Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Clayton State University announces fall commencement speaker lineup

Clayton State NewsNovember 27, 2018

commencemet line up

December commencement programs at Clayton State University feature two veteran leaders of state, national, and international business, non-profit, and government organizations. Former Atlanta Mayor and U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, and Georgia State Rep. Calvin Smyre of Columbus, have agreed to speak to the more than 500 students attending graduation ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 8. 

Young has had an illustrious career as a trailblazer in fighting for civil and human rights, representing constituents in the halls of Congress, advocating for democracy as a diplomat for the United States, and ushering in a new era for the city of Atlanta as mayor.

Young worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to advance a non-violent movement that resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

He became the first African-American elected to Congress from the deep South since Reconstruction when he was elected in 1972. Five years later in 1977, then-president Jimmy Carter appointed Young to serve as the nation's first African-American Ambassador to the United Nations.

By the 1980s, Young was elected to serve as mayor of Atlanta, where he expanded international investment in Atlanta attracting 1100 new businesses and $70 billion in investment, adding 1 million jobs to the region.

Smyre’s career began as a community organizer and director of the “War on Poverty” program in Columbus, to being elected to the General Assembly in 1974 as its youngest member at 26 years of age. He has since served on a number of legislative committees, garnering the moniker “Dean of the House of Representatives.”

He has also played a major role in national politics, having served as the first African-American chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, president of theNational Black Caucus of State Legislators, as well as a member of the Assembly on State Issues of the National Conference of State Legislators.

Smyre will serve as the commencement speaker for College of Arts & Sciences students attending the 9 a.m. ceremony. He will be followed by Young, who will speak to students from the College of Business, College of Health, and College of Information and Mathematical Sciences at the noon ceremony.

Dr. Celeste Walley-Jean, associate professor of psychology and dean of the School of Graduate Studies, will speak to graduate students on Friday, Dec. 7 during the commencement and hooding ceremony.

Dr. Walley-Jean is the associate professor of psychology and dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Clayton State University, will speak to graduate students on Friday, Dec. 7 during the commencement and hooding ceremony.

Dr. Walley-Jean is responsible for the strategic leadership of graduate programming at Clayton State. She has conducted published research on a number of topics including African-American College Students & Interpersonal Violence, African American Women & Anger, and Gender & Anger.

The University has also selected two student speakers to share their Clayton State experience during Saturday’s ceremonies. Nahtyka Jolly, an English major, and Jordan Gibbs, a business management major, will speak during commencement.