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LeMoyne-Owen College: A 'beacon of hope'

by Writing by Design Media, Inc. Staff

LeMoyne-Owen College, a historically Black college and university (HBCU), held its 153rd commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 13 at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.

This year's valedictorian was Michael Zhou, an international student from Zimbabwe, graduated with a bachelor's degree in computer science.

Michael Zhou| Photo Credit: KQ Communications

While attending LOC, Zhou was a math tutor at the Dr. Cheryl Golden Retention Center and was a student athlete. He played tennis under a scholarship.

He served as a volunteer with the LOC Community Health Organization on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zhou referenced the challenges that he and his classmates faced during the COVID-19 pandemic in his remarks along with gratitude from the faculty and staff of LOC.

Below is an excerpt of Zhou's remarks from the commencement ceremony.

"A pleasant morning to you all and a warm welcome to our President, Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs, the respected Board of Trustees, our esteemed faculty, honored guests, beloved family and friends, and my fellow graduates.

Some of you may know me, but to those who don’t, my name is Michael Zhou and I am an international student from Zimbabwe. It is an honor to stand before you today, as we are gathered here to celebrate our achievements. I am filled with a sense of pride and gratitude for everything that we have accomplished together.

LeMoyne-Owen College 2023 Graduating Class | May 13 | Mt. Vernon Baptist

Photo Credit: KQ Communications

It is not a secret that the road has been long and challenging for us all. I remember we started our freshman year with excitement and enthusiasm, only to be disrupted by the pandemic in the second semester. It was a very difficult time for everyone as we were faced with the task of adapting to online learning and figuring out ways to stay connected with our professors, classmates, and friends. It was also a challenging period for some of us student-athletes as we were unable to do what we love the most, which is playing our sports and competing with other colleges. Despite all these challenges and setbacks, we have emerged stronger, wiser, and more determined than ever before and that is why we are here today.

As we move into the next stage of our lives, I want to take a moment to reflect on our time and experiences here at LeMoyne-Owen College. I also encourage you, my fellow graduates to reflect on the lessons we have learned, the lifelong friendships we have made, and the memories we have created. We have learned that hard work and dedication can take us further in life than we ever thought possible. And that failure is not a setback, but it is an opportunity to learn and grow from our mistakes."

2023 Graduating Class | Photo Credit: KQ Communications

Zhou thanked his family and quoted the late former President, Nelson Mandela in his closing remarks.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"

"We have been given this gift, and it is now our mandate to go out and change our societies and strive for excellence in all that we do," said Zhou.

To learn more about LeMoyne-Owen College, visit

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