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Delta State Interim President Dr. E.E. Caston addresses graduates during the 96th Commencement, hosted Friday, Dec. 9, 2022.

CLEVELAND, Miss.— It was the end and the beginning for the nearly 400 graduates who were celebrated by Delta State University during its 96th Commencement Exercise.

A total of 370 graduates from the Summer and Fall of 2022 were recognized in the program during two in-person ceremonies Friday, Dec. 9. Graduate students were honored during the 10 a.m. event while undergraduate students were honored at 2 p.m.

In addition to the United States, graduates hailed from 8 countries across the globe, including Columbia, France, Haiti, Iceland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

“Every day is a great day to be at Delta State, and I know that our degree candidates will fondly remember this moment, the day in which we honor our Summer and Fall 2022 graduating classes for their hard work and the perseverance they have demonstrated in achieving academic success that few accomplish,” said Delta State Interim President Dr. E.E. Caston.

“I want you to know how proud we are of each of you. We know this has been a very challenging time to be a university student, and we appreciate and acknowledge the flexibility and tenacity you have demonstrated during this very interesting period of American history,” he added.

Dr. Tomeka Harbin, the 2022 recipient of the S.E. Kossman Outstanding Teacher Award at Delta State, served as the commencement speaker.

A native of Grenada, Miss., Harbin has taught in the Management, Marketing, and Business Administration division since 2011. She began her career at Delta State as an Instructor of Management, then as an Assistant Professor of Management from 2013 to 2019. After serving the interim role for 11 months, Dr. Harbin was named chair in 2018 and received the rank of Associate Professor of Management in 2019.

During her address, she spoke of being honored to be this year’s commencement speaker, although it was a bit different from the speaking she is used to. She then decided she would present her address as a lecture, and the entire audience would be the class.

“This is different,” said Harbin. “It’s different, but that’s ok, we are different and we are unique at Delta State University. We are the Fighting Okra and we are the Statesmen. We do things differently here.

Harbin told the Class of 2022 in consideration of what her address would be was that one thing she did in her classes was to present a topic. So, she presented the topic “Take Care of Your People.”

“No one makes it anywhere in this life without the assistance of someone else,” she said. “And I would imagine that within these past few weeks, graduates, you’ve needed encouragement from your peers, parents, and faculty members to get through those final projects and exams.”

She went on to say that “it doesn’t end with graduation in fact you switch roles.”

“You all go on to be leaders in divisions, companies, healthcare organizations, schools, and airlines,” she said. “You become the person who motivates, inspires, empowers, encourages, and supports your people.”

“Being a leader isn’t just about making the big decisions or having the final say,” she said. “Being an effective leader is being able to be responsive and attentive to those people who are following you.”

She closed by reminding graduates not to forget about their green and white family and urged them to go out into the world and do great things.

“I’m so thankful for the support from my professors,” said Jessica Harrison of Cleveland, Miss. who received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in general business. “They wanted me to succeed, and they believed in my ability to chase my dreams. I am leaving here with much more than a diploma. I will always have the love and memories from the DSU faculty and my classmates. Thank you DSU!”

Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Honor Diploma recipient Nicole Hollis, of Columbus, Miss., had this to say about her time at Delta State. “I wouldn’t trade the last three-and-a-half years at this university for anything in the world. Delta State has been my home away from home since I got here in the fall of 2019. The people here —my classmates, professors, faculty, and staff members — have had an incredible impact on not only my education, but my college experience as a whole. I am who I am today because of this institution and all it’s done for both me and my family. I’m proud to be an Alumni of Delta State University where from day one we are encouraged to Join in and Stand out. As Always, Fear the Okra, and Respect the Statesman.

Master of Business Administration graduate Ben Yarbrough of Cleveland, Miss., echoed a similar sentiment.

“Delta State University has been my home away from home,” he said. “I’ve gained more knowledge in the things I’m passionate about and have been give so many opportunities I never would have had otherwise. I’m forever grateful to Delta State.”

To view a replay of Delta State’s Fall 2022 Commencement, visit