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Florida Memorial University holds 2013 Spring Commencement

2013 FMU's Spring Commencement Ceremony

2013 FMU’s Spring Commencement Ceremony

Florida Memorial University holds  2013 Spring Commencement

Miami Gardens Mayor Gilbert tells graduates to ‘obliterate the box’

Dr. Denise Callwood-Brathwaite, assistant provost, leads Acting President Mary A. O’Banner and others in the Line of March at FMU’s Spring Commencement on the campus of Florida Memorial University.

Special to the Westside Gazette

By L. A. Carroll

MIAMI GARDENS, FL — More than 150 students tossed their tassels Saturday morning at Florida Memorial University (FMU), South Florida’s only historically Black university, and, in an instant, became college graduates during the 2013 Spring Commencement ceremony.

It was a picture-perfect South Florida morning, a day that saw students, faculty, staff, family and friends pack the university’s chapel for an early Baccalaureate Service preceding the 10:30 a.m. graduation ceremony at the A. Chester Robinson Athletic Complex. After the chapel emptied, the orange-and-blue crowd wound its way over to the gymnasium, with the sun shining brightly on the Class of 2013.

As acting President Mary A. O’Banner took a backward glance at the robed line of candidates, she said, “It seems as if they just got here, but, now, some four years later, they are about to leave us to make their mark in the world, and take the spirit of Florida Memorial University with them. It was a most memorable and wonderful time.”

    The Honorable Oliver G. Gilbert, III, mayor of the City of Miami Gardens challenged the students in his commencement speech to “obliterate the box.” Gilbert asked the students to remember three names: Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr., the first Black appointed judge on the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida; H.T. Smith, Miami-Dade County’s first African-American assistant public defender, and, later, Miami-Dade County’s first African-American assistant county attorney; and Garth Reeves, Sr., publisher emeritus of the Miami Times newspaper.

“Don’t be confined to do what you were told to do . . . ,” Gilbert said. “These three men (Ferguson, Smith and Reeves) conquered the impossible.” He challenged the graduates “to create their own accomplishments.”

    Gilbert is a lifelong resident of Miami Gardens, which was incorporated in 2003. It has been the home of Florida Memorial University for 45 years since it relocated from St. Augustine. A graduate of Miami Norland Senior High School, Florida A&M University and the University of Miami School of Law (with honors), he is also an attorney with the law firm of Greenspoon Marder.

“I’m not going to ask you to think outside of the box. I’m going to ask you to blow up the box, annihilate the box. . . The box is a figment of our imagination,” Gilbert instructed the new graduates. “Every great endeavor, every great expansion of mankind . . . has come on the other side of what was thought unimaginable.”

Shortly after Gilbert’s words, it was done . . . Spring Commencement was now history – and new dreams to imagine seemed to rise to the rafters as the Class of 2013 celebrated their new status.

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