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Clark Atlanta University Names Atlanta Native Valedictorian

Posted on Friday, May 19, 2017

Jakayla Woolridge (Photo Credit: Curtis McDowell)

Contact: Tenisha Taylor Bell
(678) 429-4254

ATLANTA (May 19, 2017)    Clark Atlanta University (CAU) named Jakayla Woolridge as its Class of 2017 valedictorian. “Being named CAU’s valedictorian proves that hard work and determination don’t go unnoticed,” says the Atlanta native.

This year more than 800 CAU undergraduate and graduate students will earn bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees and specialist certifications.  The commencement ceremony will be held Monday, May 22, at 8 a.m. at Panther Stadium, 735 Beckwith St. SW. 

Woolridge, a Carver Early Career High School alumna, reveals that her road wasn’t always easy. “My dad suddenly died in my senior year of high school,” says the 21-year-old. “I lost sight of what I wanted to do in life. I was a daddy’s girl and I just couldn’t move on,” she recalls. After counseling with her pastor, Woolridge graduated in the top 10% of her high school and continued to excel academically at CAU.

Woolridge, an early childhood education major, will begin her career as a teacher at Emma Hutchinson Elementary School. She will also pursue a master’s degree at CAU in the fall. “CAU taught me how to balance my academics with a social life. I got the true collegiate experience with a family oriented environment.”

CAU also named Adisha Penn as salutatorian. Penn, a political science major, will teach abroad for a year before beginning law school. “Being Afro-Caribbean, it was important for me to attend a HBCU,” says the St. Thomas, VI native. “I share and understand the history of African Americans. I understand the importance of HBCUs and the untold history of the black diaspora. CAU taught me how to be strong and persevere.”

CAU will also award four doctoral degrees honoris causa in the areas of civil and human rights, politics, and STEM.  The honorary recipients include business mogul/entrepreneur William Pickard, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and retired NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (in absentia) whose amazing life story was portrayed in the film "Hidden Figures".

For more information on the 2017 Clark Atlanta University Commencement schedule visit www.cau.edu.

Click here for Jakayla Woolridge's valedictorian speech.

Category: Students
Keywords: Jakayla Woolridge, Adisha Penn