Southern University has 465 new Southernites


Southern University has a new class of Southernites after graduating 465 students today, Dec. 13, at the 2014 Fall Commencement ceremony.


Commencement speaker Bishop Joseph Walker, an SU alum and former band member of the famous "Human Jukebox," encouraged graduates to ignore naysayers and aim to be above average. "Average is not acceptable," said Walker.


"You are a graduate of Southern University and you should not be satisfied until you are on top of the top," said Walker. 


Walker, in a short but powerful message to the graduates and Southern community, said there is an "enemy waiting for you the moment you leave this place. The enemy is called 'average,'" adding that we live in a world where only the "strong survive."


He stressed that "you only get in life what you are prepared to handle and there is a lot waiting for you."


Walker wrapped up his speech to the class of fall 2014, saying, "It doesn't matter what category people put you in, you have graduated from one of the greatest institutions in the world."


"Don't stop believing... until a generation doesn't believe average is the way keep pressing your way," said Walker reminding students that in whatever they do to say "Thank you."


Walker is pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., one of the largest churches in the United States. He has grown the church from 175 members in 1992 to over 28,000 members today. The church has three locations offering more than 30 ministries for social and economic enhancement of the Nashville community and abroad.


Named one of the top 20 African-American Pastors in the country by, Walker sits on noteworthy national boards, including the board of the American Red Cross, and holds a Governor- appointed post on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.


Walker received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern and a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.


As Chief Student Marshal, Martin lead the 465 students into the center a week after participating in the SWAC Championship in Houston as a member of the Southern University Jaguar Football team. The game did not end in the Jaguars favor, falling 38-24 to Alcorn State.


However with the SWAC Championship behind him, Martin graduated and led his peers for a moment they will forever cherish.


Martin decided to be the best he could be academically, he never had a vision of being anything other than a very good college student.


"It was solely to prove everybody who doubted me, or counted me out, wrong," Martin says. "Now I can say 'I told you so."


Martin can also say his effort paid off as he has earned the coveted designation of Chief Student Marshal - the undergraduate student with the highest grade point average - for the 465 students to receive diplomas at commencement exercises on Friday.


"When I committed myself to academics, it wasn't to be named the chief student marshal," he said. "I just became aware of what the chief student marshal was."


Martin, a criminal justice major, has a 3.78 grade point average. He is a member of the Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes Honors College where he also received an academic scholarship.


The Las Vegas native said what he has done, play football and remain an honor student and be the chief student marshal, gives him "a sense of accomplishment."


Now what? Martin said he is considering a career in law enforcement, with a focus on becoming an investigator or a detective dealing with violent crimes.


He also plans to return to college to pursue a master of business administration degree.


Click here to see photos from the day!


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