Today@Sam Article

Virtual Commencement Leads To General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) As Keynote

June 23, 2020
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

Powell_Colin_PROMOPICExtraordinary circumstances can sometimes lead to extraordinary opportunities. While Sam Houston State University’s recent decision to switch to a virtual commencement was disappointing, the move has presented the chance for students to hear from an extraordinary leader and speaker.

In a virtual commencement celebration to recognize the 2020 SHSU graduates for spring and summer semesters, the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) will serve as the commencement keynote speaker.

Taking place on Saturday, August 1 at 1 p.m., the ceremony is expected to incorporate the most important elements of this time-honored tradition into a virtual event including speeches, conferring of degrees and music performances.

“While I will certainly miss the opportunity to congratulate each student face-to-face, I look forward to the message a speaker of Gen. Powell’s stature brings to graduates at this important benchmark in their lives,” President Hoyt said. 

The son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell was educated in the New York City public schools and attended the City College of New York where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. After joining the Army ROTC program, he discovered his military calling. He received a commission as an Army second lieutenant in 1958 and went on to serve in the United States Army for 35 years.

Powell served as President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. Appointed secretary of state by President George W. Bush, Powell, became, at that time, the most powerful African-American ever to hold office. A four-star general, Powell’s numerous awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, and he is the author of his best-selling autobiography, My American Journey. His second book, an instant New York Times best seller titled It Worked for Me (May 2012), reveals the lessons that shaped his life and career.

The SHSU ceremony will be live-streamed from with a recording of the celebration available for those not able to view at the scheduled time.

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