President's Young Alumni Inaugural Class
The Florida A&M University community rolledout the red carpet, Friday, Oct. 29, for the “Young Alumni Awards: A 40/40 Celebration” in the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium.
Forty star-studded young alumni who have established impressive track records in industries from music, sports, entertainment, politics, finance and medicine were honored during this inaugural event.
“I wanted to bring these outstanding individuals back to the campus to impress upon them how important it is to become contributing alumni and members of our National Alumni Association,” FAMU President James H. Ammons told the more 500 people who were in attendance at the event. “Congratulations to each of you and we believe that you will continue to grow and succeed.”
For FAMU, the search for 40 of its finest alumni born after 1970 uncovered an impressive pool of world-class professionals who are making their mark in a wide range of industries and disciplines.
“We received well over 200 nominations,” said Sharon P. Saunders, FAMU chief communications officer and chair of the 2010 Homecoming 40/40 Celebration Planning Committee. “When the review panel narrowed it down to the top 40, the result was an outstanding roster representing the very best of the very best.”
The honorees were divided into four areas noted on the university seal: Heart, Hand, Field and Head.
“Nothing better describes this group other than the word ‘dynamic,’” said Carmen Cummings Martin, executive director for the Office of Alumni Affairs. “These distinguished alumni embody the symbols that are embedded in our FAMU seal — using their wisdom, passion, professional areas and their work ethic to become accomplished leaders.”
The event was hosted by hip-hop icons, Kid-N-Play, and entertainment was provided by FAMU alumnus DJ Vince Adams and one of the 40/40 honorees, comedian Roy Wood Jr.
The Rattlers we are honoring are phenomenol,” said Christopher “Play” Martin, who currently serves as a professional-in-residence, teaching a music couse at the university.
Honoree Sha’Ron James was also selected as the 40/40 People’s Choice Award recipient.
“While each of our honorees is outstanding, we asked our alumni, students faculty and staff to select the honoree among our recipients who seemed to stand out above all others.
The 40 honorees are people to watch. With so many accomplishments realized in such a short time, it will be interesting and exciting to track their future progress.
This year’s honorees were:
- Akinlabi Afolayan, executive director, Hope Float Initiative;
- Corey Alston, vice chair and chairman-elect, FAMU Foundation;
- Torey Alston, chief of staff, Broward County Commissioner;
- Aaron P. Arnold, CEO, Music is My Business;
- E. Belicia Ayers, Esq., appellate panelist (Judge), South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce;
- Michael Bundy, residency student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, graduated first in his class at Harvard University, School of Dental Medicine;
- Joe Briggs, Esq., attorney, NFL Players Association;
- Leontyne Brown, managing partner, Salt 513 Advertising;
- Dwight Bullard, State representative, Florida House of Representatives (District 118);
- Staci R. Collins Jackson, CEO, The Collins Jackson Agency;
- Richard Dent, senior vice president, chief operating officer and co-leader of Victoria’s Secret PINK;
- Makeba S. Earst, dentist, All About Smiles Center;
- Allesa Jackson English, assistant professor, University of Tennessee Health Science Center;
- Andrew D. Gillum, city commissioner, City of Tallahassee;
- Amber D. Hall, Florida Region Sales Operations HR manager, Frito Lay;
- Rob Hardy, director, Rainforest Films, Inc.;
- Earl Holmes, Inside linebacker coach, FAMU, former line backer, professional football;
- Taydra Mithell Jackson, chief marketing consultant, Taydra Mitchell Jackson, Inc.;
- C. Sha-Ron James, attorney, assistant division director, Department of Financial Services, Division of Rehabilitation and Liquidation;
- Oscar Joyner, president and COO, Reach Media Inc.;
- Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. “Common,” American rapper and actor
- Clarence Nesbitt, sports marketing counsel, Nike;
- Will Packer, producer, Rainforest Production;
- Karen Shields Phillips, director of Surgical Services & Sterile Processing, Emory Healthcare at Emory University Hospital Midtown;
- Wesley S. Puryear, vice president, head of North American Listed Preferred Stock, JP Morgan;
- Jonathan Quarles, director of Government and Corporate Affairs, W Industries;
- William H. Robinson, associate professor of Electrical Engineering, Vanderbilt University
- Anika Noni RoseaActress;
- T.J. Rose, vice president, Audax Group;
- Melanie Roussell, press secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan;
- Keisha L. Senter, director, Clinton Global Initiative/William Jefferson Clinton Foundation;
- Daniel Sunjata, actor;
- Shundrawn A. Thomas, president, Northern Trust Securities, Inc.;
- Keshia Walker, president, Insights Marketing;
- Alan Williams, state representative, Florida House of Representatives (District 8);
- Amir Windom, executive, Atlantic Records;
- Joe Womack, founder and author, Digital Guestlist;
- Roy Wood, Jr., comedian;
- Crystal Worthem, Lincoln communications manager, Ford Motor Company