Students on campus are excited about the graduation ceremony, even those not attending. There is little time before First Lady Michelle Obama arrives at Jackson State University to address graduates. Tiffany Lyon, a JSU student, said that everyone is excited about the event. “Black universities don’t get much notice, but the fact the president’s spouse is coming here, that was a big step by Jackson State,” Quenton Jones, a graduating student, said that he and others have been making arrangements to purchase tickets for friends and family in preparation for the event. Jones stated that the day will be unforgettable, despite being hectic in preparation for his graduation. Jones stated, “It’s an important moment for many graduates.” I know Michelle Obama is a major name. I know that she will have many positive things to say about the future, things we can expect, and things we could learn to help us succeed. According to White House officials, Obama has always made it a point to speak at at least one historically African college or university’s graduation ceremony each year since 2010. Officials from the White House first approached Jackson State to inquire if Michelle Obama would speak at their graduation ceremony. Elayne Hayes, an administrator of the university’s Department of Mass Communications, stated that “Jackson State University President Carolyn W. Meyers” immediately responded “yes” to the request. “This would be amazing for our graduates (and for the community… We’re just happy that we were selected.” There are electronic billboards advertising commencement, and signs reminding seniors where they can pick up their tickets. Anthony explained that Jackson State’s graduations are usually held at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. However, Saturday’s ceremony will be a ticketed event. Each student receives one ticket for them and 15 for their family. Non-graduating students, faculty, and staff only get two tickets because of limited seating and high demand. For those unable to attend, both undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies can also be viewed at new.livestream.com/jacksonstateu. Anthony stated that she would not reveal the details of the graduation ceremony’s logistics but she expected about 55,000 people will attend. She said Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium can hold nearly 60,000 people. Lyon will not be graduating this year but she had hoped that she could attend the event with her family from Pontotoc. Their plans were changed when they couldn’t get two tickets. The visit also prompted other changes: the commencement date was moved from April 30 to March 31, and the time of the commencement was changed from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. in order to accommodate the First Lady’s schedule. Anthony expressed hope that Obama’s speech would encourage students to set goals and see how education can help them. Anthony stated, “I’m certain the First Lady will leave the students equipped with the tools they need to go outside and be successful.” “She is definitely a person to emulate and I think that that will go far with the message she gives students.” Jianjun Yin, a Jackson State professor in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, also said that he believes Obama’s speech will inspire graduates. Yin stated that she is an example of African American youth who are ambitious. Yujing Nie, a graduate, said that he was honored to be able to meet the First Lady before returning home to China. Nie stated that he is very fortunate to be able to see the First Lady before he leaves. Jones expressed excitement that Obama was making efforts to speak at historically-black colleges and universities. He said, “It means that we’re still not forgotten.” “They know that we are here and that they’re a large part of society. (The White House is looking forward) to what we can accomplish in our communities.” Participants are asked to arrive by 1 p.m. to witness the opening ceremony at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today.