Famous musician sings for graduates - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Famous musician sings for graduates

December 9, 2006

Albany -- Albany State University graduates its newest batch of alumni at the Albany Civic Center. More than 280 students achieved masters, bachelor's, and specialist degrees.

It's a step toward a prosperous future for these students. After today these graduates are highly qualified for jobs in nursing, education, government, and many other fields.

Some will go straight into the workforce, but others will pursue even higher education.

"I know I want to continue to go to school, and get a PhD," said graduate Inez Smith.

For Inez Smith graduation day is extra special because she shared the day with her 62-year-old Aunt, who was received an honorary doctorate for being an advocate in the health field and a positive role model for young people.

"Don't let anything stop you, but you. Don't trust too many people, trust that," said Patricia Louise Holt.

The new graduates trust that their hard work will finally pay off, and their diploma will take them to a new chapter in life, even if it's unsure for now.

"My undergraduate degree is in biology and my masters degree is in business administration, which means I don't know where I'm going or what I'm doing. I'm just excited" said Smith.

The excitement was shared by fellow graduates, their families, and educators, as the students' hard work is rewarded.

The keynote speaker of graduation was ASU alumni Gregory Daniels. He is senior VP of US Manufacturing of Nissan North America, and his corporation made a $25,000 donation to the school.

There was another esteemed guest at ASU commencement. Grammy-winning singer Patti LaBelle gave the crowd a little taste of sweet soul at graduation. She was honored with an Honorary Doctorate from ASU. This is the fifth for LaBelle.

LaBelle has several relatives in the Albany area and says she would visit regularly growing up. She says she was proud to be honored by a community she's grown to love.

"It's my fifth doctorate, but it's the one that means so much to me. My family, they live here. My father before he passed he lived here. I would come here every summer, so I'm sort of like, I'm an Albanian too, " said Patti LaBelle.

Aside from several chart-topping albums, LaBelle has starred on Broadway, had her own sitcom, has a clothing and jewelry line, and has four best-selling books. She actively fights against cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and AIDS.

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