Tamara Smalling, a graduate of the class of 2005, introduced local elected officials and guided the entire ceremony.
“This was just a great honor,” she said, “and I’m very happy to be part of this auspicious occasion.”
Smalling is currently a doctoral student and the associate director of diversity and compliance for the City University of New York (CUNY). Her journey in the CUNY system started at Medgar Evers College, which was the first college that accepted her in the United States.
Smalling is well aware of the school’s namesake. Medgar Evers College is named after the civil rights activist and World War II veteran who was assassinated by white supremacists in his driveway.
“I am glad to be a recipient of that which he was fighting for,” she said. “I’m very grateful I was able to be part of this historic institution. That means a lot to me.
“It’s a piece of history we need to keep going,” Smalling added. “Let it not get lost.”
Smalling said graduates of Medgar Evers College went on to be attorney, doctors, nurses, police officers and more. She still keeps in touch with some of her fellow students and thinks about where they started, which she said is very rewarding.
“I do reflect from time to time on my past, what I got from Medgar Evers and where I am today,” she added. “It’s just an honor.”