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Senator Joyner, Congressman Clyburn and Kenya Prime Minister to Keynote Spring Commencement

April 16, 2012

. – The Honorable Arthenia Joyner, state senator and chair-elect of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, will lead the line-up of speakers scheduled for Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Spring 2012 Commencement on Saturday, April 28 in the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium.

Joyner, D-Tampa, will address candidates slated to receive degrees at the first of three sessions beginning at 9 a.m.

U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn will speak at 2 p.m. Kenya Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Raila Amolo Odinga, will speak at 6 p.m.

Joyner, who currently serves as the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus’ Pro Tem, was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000 and later to the Florida Senate in 2006. Her professional career as the first black female attorney in Hillsborough County, Fla. began shortly after graduating from FAMU with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a juris doctor.  She is the only black woman in the history of Florida to practice law for 42 consecutive years.

An ardent civil rights advocate, Joyner has an unrelenting passion for justice and equal treatment under the law. She participated in the first civil rights demonstrations in her hometown of Tampa, Fla. She has held several leadership positions at the local, state and national levels throughout her career. This includes her current roles as the Florida state director for Women in Government, vice president of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women and advisory council member of the Women’s Legislative Network of the National Council of State Legislators.

Congressman Clyburn is the highest-ranking African American in Congress and serves as the number three Member of the House Democratic Leadership. Clyburn is the leadership liaison to the Appropriations Committee and one of the Democratic Caucus' primary liaisons to the White House. Working with the internal caucuses, he plays a prominent role in messaging and outreach. When Clyburn came to Congress in 1993, he was elected co-president of his freshman class and quickly rose through leadership ranks.

As a national leader he has worked to respond to the needs of America’s diverse communities.

He championed rural communities supporting the development of regional water projects, community health centers, and broadband connections. He has supported higher education by leading the charge for increased Pell grants and invested millions in science and math programs and historic preservation at historically black colleges and universities. Clyburn also leads House Democrats’ efforts to counter voter suppression efforts throughout the country.

Prime Minister Odinga was elected to office in 2008 following the signing of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act. This power-sharing agreement created a coalition government in Kenya following controversial elections in 2007, which garnered international attention. The University of Nairobi recently recognized Prime Minister Odinga with an honorary doctorate for his role in restoring peace to the country following these elections. Odinga’s political career in Kenya has been fraught with struggle since the 1970s when he was detained without trial. Due to political pressures, he was later forced to complete his post-secondary education at Herder-Institute in Leipzig, Germany. He holds a master’s degree from the Mageburg College of Advanced Technology and has taught mechanical engineering at the University of Nairobi.

He currently serves as a member of Parliament for Langata Constituency in Nairobi. He has pioneered the flagship family firm EA Spectre, a leading manufacturer of gas cylinders for Kenya and the surrounding regions. Odinga is currently running to become the next president of Kenya in elections expected to be held no later than March 2013.

The FAMU Schools and Colleges graduating at the 9 a.m. session include, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Law, the School of Architecture and the School of the Environment. The line of march for this session will begin at 8:30 a.m. Graduates are to arrive at 7:30 a.m., and doors open for the public at 8 a.m.

Candidates in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, School of Allied Health Sciences, and the School of Nursing will be presented at the 2 p.m. session. The line of march for the 2 p.m. session is 1:30 p.m. Graduates are to arrive at 12:30 p.m., and doors open for the public at 1 p.m.

The final commencement exercises will include the School of Business and Industry, College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, College of Education and the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. The line of march will start at 5:30 p.m. Graduates are to arrive at 4:30 p.m., and doors open for the public at 5 p.m.

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