The first female bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Vashti McKenzie and alumna and Allstate Insurance Executive Cheryl Harris addressed more than 600 graduates at Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) fall 2017 graduation ceremonies.
Family, friends, faculty, staff, alumni, and other guests attended two ceremonies on December 15 and 16 at the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium. Harris spoke first, and McKenzie delivered her message Saturday morning.
Described as an “electrifying preacher,” McKenzie’s historic election in 2000 was the first time in the A.M.E. Church’s 213-year history that a woman had obtained the level of Episcopal office. She captivated the audience’s attention by outlining ten “permission slips” for graduates as they pursue careers.
“Give yourself permission to do better. Use your degree to make things better for yourself,” said Bishop McKenzie.
McKenzie is an author, documentary producer and the presiding prelate of the 10th Episcopal District.
Harris is a graduate of FAMU’s School of Business and Industry and serves on the FAMU Foundation Board of Directors. She oversees Allstate’s Supplier Diversity Program and was recently named one of Black Enterprise’s “Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America” in 2017.
“You have the courage, tenacity to make a positive change,” said Harris.
Former Miss FAMU Amberly Williams (2016-2017) graduated on Saturday and received a plaque from President Robinson. FAMU’s Director of Bands Shelby Chipman, Ph.D., was also honored with the FAMU National Alumni Association’s President’s Award.