After four years at Claflin University, Brandyce Coes is going places. She says her Claflin experience has afforded her many opportunities including a summer internship at Harvard University and $25,000 research scholarship with the pharmaceutical giant Merck.
“For me, Claflin University has really prepared me so that whatever I wanted to do professionally it wouldn’t be a problem,” said Coes. “It provided me with the knowledge and opportunities to be competitive.”
A native of Warner Robins, Georgia, Coes stood out among many applicants at the Medical University of South Carolina’s pharmacy school. She did so much so that she received a full scholarship to attend the Charleston institution this fall.
Coes took the next step to fulfilling her dream of one day owning and operating a pharmacy on Saturday at the Claflin University Commencement Convocation. She was one of 381 graduates – the largest in University history – representing 17 states and six nations that were conferred with degrees.
Before they left Claflin, they received some words of encouragement and sound advice from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
Reed challenged the Class of 2012 to utilize the world class education and excellent preparation they had received at Claflin.
“The world needs you,” he said.
He noted history has shown you don’t need a large group to positively change the world, citing the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an example.
“Honor history and honor tradition but blaze your own trail,” said Reed.
Reed recounted his path to success prior to becoming mayor of Atlanta came solely through hard work. He worked as a lawyer at a firm until late at night and would often fly immediately to Los Angeles to work for clients in the entertainment industry the next day. After that business was over, he then returned back to Atlanta on a red eye flight to work at the firm early the following morning.
However, he said those opportunities were only made possible because of the love and lessons provided by his parents, Junius and Sylvia, who are alumni of the University. They met during their sophomore year at Claflin.
“It literally started for me at Claflin University,” he said.
He said his parents instilled in him many of the virtues they learned as Claflin students such as confidence, character and strength.
Reed emphasized the need for resiliency in dealing with the inevitable pitfalls life would throw at the graduates. He told a story about legendary Dallas Cowboys Emmitt Smith to bring the lesson home. During a 1991 game, Smith was on the verge on being tackled by several Washington Redskins defenders but kept moving his feet and eventually broke through to score the longest touchdown of his NFL Hall of Fame career.
“That’s where the phrase ‘yards after contact’ comes from. You are going to take hits. ‘Yards after contact’ determine who you are,” the mayor said.
In closing, he encouraged the graduates to give back so the next generation could make the world better in the same ways the Class of 2012 will in the future.
“Continue to give even when you’re tired,” Reed said.
Reed was conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale during the Commencement Convocation.
During the ceremony, Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kamal Chowdhury received the James E. Hunter, III Faculty Excellence Award, the University’s highest honor for faculty. And the Claflin Class of 1962 was conferred with their Golden Diplomas.