Dr. Sheryl Underwood, actress, radio host, and public speaker, captured the audience during her address at the Voorhees College 121st Commencement Ceremony with an enlightening and inspirational message with a comedic spin.
Underwood encouraged the Class of 2018 to represent Voorhees when they go out into the world to begin the next phases of their lives. She said no matter where you are or what you do, the title of Voorhees graduate will be attached.
“Be careful what you do once you leave out these doors. We only want you to achieve greatness. In fact, I do not want to see any of you on high speed chases unless you are late for church,” Underwood said. “The first thing they will say is “oh you see that Voorhees graduate”.
She said African-Americans, since the beginning of time, have been taking risks to improve their lives. She focused on education and the risks that came with it such as joining black Greek-lettered organizations, earning a degree, and joining the military.
“This is an amazing day because our history did not start at slavery; it started at Genesis. I would like to thank president Evans for his vision for keeping the student body “woke” and understanding the lessons shown in the movie “Black Panther” were fantasy but based off reality,” Underwood said. “Voorhees forever and Wakanda forever.”
Underwood told the graduates to support Voorhees. Underwood said it is not enough to earn your degree, but give back. “We are proud of you, but remember where you came from.”
She went on to reference the Voorhees College Golden Class of 1968, who were in attendance as the first class to graduate from the institution. Underwood asked the class to stand and be recognized to show the Class of 2018 what success can look like after 50 years.
“If you notice this is history for Voorhees. In fact, back then, two of them met on campus and there are even two brothers who married sisters. Times were different back in 1968. It was challenging and trying time for our people, but this group of people still had the foresight to seek a higher education,” Underwood said.
Underwood said to the class of 2018 that it will take time and education to get where they want to go. She referenced her higher education journey and entry level jobs she took before she achieved success. She said education is the key to success and that degree will take you anywhere you want to go.
“I know one of the graduates got the cure for cancer or diabetes. Somebody can develop a math or science program that can advance the world. I know there is someone in the room and she is the next president. Let me say that again, she is the next president,” Underwood said.
She concluded her speech with a testimony to how much Voorhees has done for her. Voorhees College radio station, WVCD 790 AM, recently premiered Sheryl Underwood Radio. It airs weekdays from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. and online at www.voorhees.edu/our-college/divisions/communications/wvcd.
“If it was not for Voorhees College and your radio station believing in me, I would not have my now 202 affiliates. I got more than Steve Harvey, D. L. Hughley, and Rickey Smiley,” Underwood said.
Underwood said “we are the only race of people that carry our race wherever we go; therefore, we have to be responsible for how we act. Continue to put God first, make us proud, and stay loyal to Voorhees College.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Underwood was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree for her business partnership and support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).