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Home News 2016 Clark Atlanta University Officially Inducts More Than 950 Freshmen

Clark Atlanta University Officially Inducts More Than 950 Freshmen

Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2016

For Immediate Release

Contact: Mario Boone

ATLANTA (AUG. 24, 2016)    More than 950 freshmen, a near-record number, were officially inducted into the Clark Atlanta University (CAU) Class of 2020.  The pomp and circumstance-filled event took place a week later than usual this year because bad weather forced a postponement.  But that did not stop family and friends who gathered at the Henderson Student Center Tuesday night as the ladies stunned in all white dresses, while the men impressed in dark suits and ties.  For this group of budding intellectuals affectionately nicknamed “the perfect vision class,” reality had finally set in that it’s now time to embrace university life and the tough choices that come with adulthood.

“You have left the days of your childhood behind for greater pursuits,” said President Ronald A. Johnson, as he welcomed the class to Panther nation.  “I implore you to reject college as usual,” Johnson urged the cheering students as part of his “Lifting Every Voice” campaign.

The words and the moment hit home for Vivian Chester Tillman, who graduated Clark College nearly 40 years ago with a degree in accounting.  That’s because her grandson Jelani Lay, a computer science major from Atlanta, was among those inducted to the Class of 2020. 

“I am excited and proud to pass on the CAU legacy to my grandson,” Tillman said.  Lay was equally as excited while he waited for the procession of students to begin.  “It’s like passing the torch or the baton so that he can keep running, so that when he has his family he can pass the CAU torch to them,” Tillman said, with a huge smile beaming across her face. 

Before the Induction Ceremony students spent several days learning about the rich history of CAU and its parent institutions, Atlanta University and Clark College.  First year and transfer students also learned about CAU’s illustrious traditions of service, activism, athletic prowess and academic excellence.  And, they were encouraged to blaze their own trails and create new traditions for generations to come.

Johnson reminded the freshmen they follow a long line of notable alumni like playwright Kenny Leon, Congressman Hank Johnson, journalist Jacque Reid, songwriter James Weldon Johnson, civil rights icon, the late Evelyn Lowery and ESPN host Bomani Jones.

“I’m ready,” said Lay, of this new chapter in his life as a student at CAU.  And, by the thunderous applause from his classmates when issued a challenge to be great, they’re all ready.

Category: Students
Keywords: Class of 2020