FMU holds 2013 Spring Commencement

caines | 5/16/2013, 5:30 a.m.

[gallery link="file" columns="2" orderby="title"] Miami Gardens Mayor Gilbert tells graduates to obliterate the box MIAMI GARDENS More than 150 students tossed their tassels Saturday morning at Florida Memorial University (FMU), South Floridas 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 universitys 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. Acting President Mary A. OBanner, as she took a backward glance at the robed line of candidates, commented, 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 keynote speaker, the Honorable Oliver G. Gilbert, III, mayor of the City of Miami Gardens, challenged the students to obliterate the box. Gilbert, mayor of the City of Miami Gardens, wanted 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. Dont be confined to 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. One of the highlights of the commencement ceremony was a special university presentation to 92-year-old Freddie Hanks, of Hallandale. Hanks was not there as a graduate or speaker. Yet, the man who had only finished ninth grade brought the audience to its feet in a standing ovation. Hanks, who had never set foot on the Florida Memorial University campus until a few weeks ago, had stopped by, unannounced, to leave a plain envelope with a $50,000 cashiers check in it for scholarships. Hanks told the graduates that he had no chance to be where they are. He said he went to work and did well and wanted to give back. As he shared his words of wisdom and inspiration, the audience was silent while staring at Hanks in admiration. He concluded by warning students to remember to take advantage of every opportunity to do well because the alternative is unacceptable. We are so blessed to have Mr. Hanks with us today, said OBanner. He is a true example of philanthropy and how important giving back is in educating young people. His life story reminds us of the Sankofa Bird, from a Ghanian proverb that means "go back and get it." Mr. Hanks has inspired us all to do more whatever our endeavor. It truly was a great day. By L. A. CarrollSpecial to the Miami Times