First lady pushes up Jackson State graduation


Jackson State University scheduled first lady Michelle Obama to give the graduation commencement speech on April 23.

“We are honored and very pleased to have first lady Michelle Obama as the Commencement Speaker for the graduating class of 2016,” said JSU President Carolyn Meyers.

This is the first time that a sitting first lady will address JSU graduates. More than 30,000 people are expected to attend this year’s ceremony.

“This affirms that JSU always strives for the best for our students,” Meyers said.

Elayne Anthony, director of the University Department of Mass Communications at JSU, said tickets for the ceremony are hard to obtain.

“The community has been blowing up my email looking for tickets,” Anthony said.

Some, however, are angry at the university for causing problems for families by trying to accommodate for the first lady at graduation. Diana Kimbrough, parent to one of the graduating students, said the university changed the time of graduation twice.

“We got notice 30 days out that it’s being changed to April 23,” Kimbrough said.

Kimbrough also said the university changed the time from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. This has caused problems for more than 60 of her relatives.The university told her only 15 out of her 60 relatives will be able to attend the ceremony.

Because the graduation was rescheduled to April 23, the school will cut the semester short by almost three weeks. Some students find this makes class work harder because hey are having to rush graduation. Soon-to-be graduate Jimmy said this event did not hinder him from getting his full education, and the event will be great.

First lady Michelle Obama advocates education on a broad spectrum. She launched the Reach Higher Initiative in 2014, with the goal of inspiring young Americans to broaden their futures by attending and graduating college. In 2015, she launched the Let Girls Learn initiative as a step to make education to women available around the world.

Obama has visited Mississippi twice as first lady, first in 2010 after kicking off her Let’s Move initiative encouraging people to eat healthier food and exercise more, and then in 2013 for a stop at an elementary school in Clinton, Mississippi to promote successful student efforts.