Rev. Jesse Jackson and National Media Personality Eboni K. Williams, receive Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Benedict College

COLUMBIA, SC, May 12, 2022 – Benedict College was honored to have Eboni K. Williams deliver the commencement address for the 273-member class of 2022 at Benedict College on Friday evening. The former public defender, author, and media personality, told the class "You are qualified to lead, to think critically, to assert solutions, to question deeply, to take up space and to occupy positions at the highest level of any and every field you desire."

“I am so proud of this graduating class of scholars because they are academically talented, natural born leaders, and they play to win!” said Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, president, and CEO of Benedict College. “The Class of 2022 will always be near and dear to my heart because they are the first class to be recruited by, and matriculate through, all four years under my administration. They are my first full graduating class!” I have taken great pride in watching their four-year transformation into becoming the BEST of BC!

Following Williams’ address, President Artis conferred upon her the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition of her notable achievements in her field. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., an international champion for civil and human rights and one of South Carolina’s most celebrated citizens also became a Benedict College alumnus. Jackson received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree before the standing room-only crowd in Benjamin E. May Arena.

Friday’s commencement ceremony proved to be a celebration of Benedict’s high achieving students, and of scholars with national recognition. 2nd Lieutenants Juwan Biggers and Trayvon Biggers are identical twins who earned an Expert Soldiers Badge (ESB) after completing a rigorous two-week course at Fort Jackson. The Bigger Brothers have earned the distinction of being the first and only cadets in America to achieve the ESB status.

The Benedict College Military Science program is a part of the Gamecock Battalion at the University of South Carolina. Four members of the Class of 2022 were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the United States Army on May 5. 2022.

The Outstanding Senior Award is given to committed and gifted scholar leaders who are an ambassador for Benedict College. This year, Janay S. Minor represented the School of Arts and Sciences. Minor, a Studio Arts major has consistently been on the Dean’s List, has served in several leadership roles and graduates with a 3.92 GPA. She has been accepted into the Master Fine Arts Graduate Illustration program at the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco, CA. Student Government Association (SGA) President, Kenyon P. Gray was named the Outstanding Senior of the Tyrone Adam Burroughs School of Business and Entrepreneurship. Gray has completed two internships with the multinational accounting and auditing firm, KPMG. Following graduation, he will return to KPMG, and during the summer travel to Copenhagen, Denmark to participate in the KPMG Global Advantage Program. He plans to attend graduate school at the University of South Carolina after completing his internship.

Kendra Lewis was named the Outstanding Senior of the School of Education, Health, and Human Services. Lewis served as the Vice President of the SGA, a Tiger Student Success Leader who traveled to Israel and is a member of the Honor’s Program. She has earned a 3.8 GPA and has been accepted to the graduate school at American University in Washington, DC.

While each of the students has exemptional records of leadership and academic achievements. Only one student is selected Outstanding Senior in the Class of 2022. That distinction went to Hiwot Tadesse who represented the STEM disciplines for School of Arts and Science. Tadesse was a member of the Honors Program and exceeded completion of all Honors graduation requirements. Her perfect 4.0 GPA has placed her name on the President’s Trophy for three consecutive years.

She is a founding member and vice president of the Society of Women Engineers, Benedict Chapter. She was also the vice president of the National Society of Black Engineers, BC chapter. Tadesse post-graduation plans are to join the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, followed by enrollment in Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Following the standing-room only commencement ceremony, guests and graduates were invited to a spectacular display of fireworks at the Charlie W. Johnson Stadium in celebration of earning their stripes as Benedict Tigers representing #TheBESTofBC!


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