Morehouse College to Honor Two Valedictorians at Commencement May 19May 9, 2019
Two Morehouse College seniors, each with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, have been named valedictorians of the Class of 2019.
The 2019 valedictorians, Jonathan B. Epps, 21, a political science major from Pleasanton Calif., and Jarvis C. Mays, a biology major from Trenton, N.J., will address their classmates at the 135th Commencement Ceremony at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 19. Salutatorian Robert A. James, a business administration and accounting major from Hebron, Conn., will also be recognized for his 3.9 GPA.
All three scholars will graduate summa cum laude.
The 2019 Commencement will be held on Century Campus, the historic campus green that lies in the shadow of Morehouse College’s oldest building, Graves Hall. Visionary investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Vista Equity Partners, will give the keynote address. Luminaries in business and the arts will also be recognized with honorary degrees for their dedication to leadership, service, and excellence, including Academy Award-nominated actor Angela Bassett.
Approximately 430 students will receive bachelor’s degrees, nearly a 10 percent increase over last year.
“I am over the moon—I feel extremely blessed and thankful to my family, first and foremost, and to the professors at Morehouse College who supported me,” said Epps, who maintained straight A’s during his time at Morehouse. “Up until high school, I didn’t even know what an HBCU was and I never really considered it as an option for me.
“But when I came to Morehouse, for the first time in my life, I came to understand what I could accomplish and was capable of,” Epps said.
Being named as a co-valedictorian of the Class of 2019 is one of a number of academic honors for Epps. He was also named as a 2020 Fulbright Scholar and will travel to Brazil for nine months to continue his studies in Portuguese, as well as teach English. He will then go to law school.
Epps, a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and a tutor at Fickett Elementary School in Atlanta, will graduate as a recipient of the Robert H. Brisbane Award; the Political Science Department award for having the highest GPA; and a citation from Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society.
Mays also will graduate with several accolades for his academic prowess. The biology major said his grades and work ethic were transformed at Morehouse, catapulting him from an average student in high school to the top of his class in college. He maintained a 4.0 throughout his tenure at Morehouse and is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
“I surrounded myself with really intelligent individuals,” said Mays, who served as vice president of the Health Careers Society and vice president of finance for the medical fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon. “If you are surrounded by greatness, some of it is going to rub off on you.”
Mays is the recipient of the Frederick E. Mapp Prize in Biology Award for graduating with the highest grade-point average and was recognized as a Dr. Cheryl G. Franklin Health Professions Scholar. He plans to become a doctor and will attend the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.
Salutatorian James is the recipient of the E.B. Williams Excellence in Business Award, which is given to the highest-ranking scholar in the Division of Business Administration and Economics. But James said one of the greatest honors he received at Morehouse was the ability to explore his cultural identity as a black man and study abroad as a student leader. He traveled to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Dubai on cultural exchanges and business study programs. After graduation, James will join Deloitte Consulting LLP in Atlanta as a business analyst and pursue an MBA in two years.
“I came here with the intention of getting good grades because I wanted to show my family that I was going to make it in life,” James said. “They invested a lot in me, and I am proud to be able to share my success with them, and my professors at Morehouse.”