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Dwayne Ashley Urges Graduates to Focus on Leadership, Courage and Volunteerism
Frankfort, KY (May 11, 2009) - Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and CEO Dwayne Ashley
Saturday urged Kentucky State University graduates to choose to lead and influence their peers through
careers in education, science, technology, business, public service, and community service.
More than 375 graduates were awarded their associates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the 120th
Commencement ceremony at the Frankfort Convention Center on May 9. Founded in 1890, Kentucky
State University is a historically black, liberal arts, and land-grant university.
“You are the first class to graduate during the term of our new president, Barack Obama. But you are also
one of the first classes to graduate during this current economic recession. So what does this mean for
you? It all depends on how you manage the unexpected from this day forward, and respond to the
challenges,” said Ashley.
He urged the 2009 graduates to answer the call of civic responsibility by giving back to their school,
community, and the next generation who will follow their lead.
“You are academically prepared with an attitude for leadership and success. The facts prove that
education makes all the difference. It’s made a difference in my life, and it’s making a difference in
yours. So you must now resolve to pass it on, and pay it forward, to those who need your help the most,”
Ashley urged.
“Be an active alumni booster and support your university. Mentor a high school student. Tutor a child at a
local elementary school. However you choose to do it, continue to pass this gift of education along to the
next community where you live.”
Kentucky State University also awarded two special honorary degrees. At 105, Della Jones is KSU’s
oldest living alumnae. She graduated in 1957 and taught in Kentucky public schools most of her life.
Meanwhile, Dr. Carl H. Smith has led the KSU concert choir for more than 50 years. He joined the
university in 1958, and has taught, directed and inspired students ever since. In addition to his conducting
on campus, Dr. Smith leads the First Christian Church Chancel Choir in Frankfort.
About Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Inc.
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Inc., named for the late U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice, was
established in 1987 and represents 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and 6 Law
Schools located in 22 states with a population of well over 250,000 students. Over the last 21 years, TMCF has
awarded more than $100 million in leadership development, programmatic and capacity support, and scholarships
enabling more than 7,500 students to attend public HBCUs. It is the only national organization of its type that
provides merit-based scholarships and programmatic support to students attending the nation’s public HBCUs.
TMCF also provides internship programs and joins corporate and foundation partners in providing leadership
training and support to students preparing for undergraduate and professional schools. TMCF is a 501(c) 3, tax-
exempt organization.