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Fall 2023 Commencement Program

Fall 2023 Commencement Ceremony and Events

Alumni Pinning Ceremony & Reception
Wednesday, December 6 | 3:30 p.m. | Student Union Ballrooms 

Joint Commissioning Ceremony
Friday, December 8 | 3 p.m. | King Frazier Ballroom

Commencement Ceremony
Friday, December 8 | 9 a.m. | T.A. Wright Stadium






Commencement Ceremony Live Stream Recording

Commencement Live Stream

Esteemed Commencement Speaker:

Keisha Lance Bottoms (Mayor of Atlanta 2018 - 2022)


Keisha Lance Bottoms served as the 60th Mayor of Atlanta and the senior advisor and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. She is a visionary leader in bringing equitable outcomes to the forefront of government and commerce. Keisha became the first Mayor in Atlanta’s history to have served in all three branches of government, having previously served as a Judge and a City Councilmember. 

Sworn in on January 2, 2018, Keisha served as Mayor during one of the most challenging times in the history of Atlanta. In the midst of a global pandemic and a racial justice movement, Keisha became a leading spokesperson regarding the challenges and opportunities facing cities and leaders across America. 

While navigating these unprecedented challenges, the Bottoms Administration was able to remain focused on the resilience of Atlanta, negotiating and closing the largest real estate transaction in the history of Atlanta, and one of the largest in the Southeast United States that delivered millions of dollars in community benefits to people across the city.  

Bottoms took proactive measures to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the City and its agencies. As a result, during one of the worst economic downturns the world has ever faced, the Bottoms Administration delivered four years of balanced budgets, without resorting to property tax increases, layoffs, or furloughs of City employees. The City’s reserves remain at a near high of $181M, far exceeding the requirements of the City Charter.

Shaped by a childhood and professional career that highlighted the inequalities amongst Americans, Keisha led her Administration in undertaking several major initiatives that would seek to eradicate systemic issues facing Atlanta, while creating a model for all cities to follow. The major initiatives included:

Keisha’s steadfast leadership and equity-focused philosophy have led to numerous accolades and leadership positions, including having served as the Chair of the Community Development and Housing Committee and the Census Task Force for the United States Conference of Mayors and as a Trustee for the African American Mayor’s Association. She was also selected to Chair the Platform Committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention and serves as the DNC’s Vice Chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Protection.

Tracing her family’s roots to a slave plantation in Georgia, it was Keisha’s highest honor to be named 2020 Georgian of the Year by Georgia Trend Magazine. She also was named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year and was named a member of Ebony Magazine’s prestigious Power 100 List. She has also been honored as a BET 100 Entertainer and Innovator of the Year and was named the Smart Cities Dive’s 2020 Leader of the Year. Keisha was also the recipient of the Distinguished Civil Rights Advocate Award presented by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law in recognition of her equity-driven leadership to help guide and protect marginalized communities. 

Keisha is the daughter of R&B icon Major Lance and Sylvia Robinson. She and her husband Derek are parents to four children.

Esteemed Commissioning Ceremony Speaker:

Colonel Clydea Prichard-Brown 

Chief of Staff, 1st Theater Sustainment Command


A native of Gary, Indiana, COL Prichard-Brown enlisted in the Army as a Private First Class and became a Traffic Management Coordinator (88N), in 1991. Her enlisted assignments included: Fort Ord, California, Sinai, Egypt, and Fort Lewis, Washington. After reaching the rank of Sergeant, COL Prichard-Brown received the Army ROTC Green-to-Gold Scholarship. 

She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies with concentration in Criminal Justice from Indiana University, Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI). In 1997. She was the school’s the first female and first minority Cadet Battalion Commander and became the school’s Distinguished Military Graduate where she commissioned into the Regular Army as a Transportation Officer. She later graduated with honors from Webster University, earning her Master’s Degree in Procurement and Acquisition Management with concentration in Government Contracting and a second Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 

COL Prichard-Brown’s assignments include Platoon Leader and Company Executive Officer, 89th Transportation Company, Battalion S1 and the Assistant Operations and Security Officer for the 6th Transportation Battalion. She served as the Land Branch Chief of the G-4 Transportation Division, Eighth United States Army (EUSA), and Commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 498th Corps Support Battalion, Korea. She served as the Non-Combatant Evacuation Officer for EUSA, the Operations Officer for the 205th Infantry Brigade, and Executive Officer of the Milwaukee Recruiting Battalion, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Following her time as Executive Officer, COL Prichard-Brown served at the Pentagon in Headquarters Department of the Army G37, as the Chief of Army Training Ammunition in the Munitions Management Division, and as Executive Officer to the Deputy Chief of Staff G37. COL Prichard-Brown assumed command of the 836th Transportation Battalion, in Yokohama, Japan, becoming the first African American female to command this battalion. She later served as the Director of the Logistic Materiel & Readiness Directorate, and then became the first African American female to command the 59th Ordnance Brigade, at Fort Greg-Adams (Fort Lee), Virginia. COL Prichard-Brown recently completed a one-year assignment as the Executive Officer to the Deputy Commanding General of Army Materiel Command (AMC), in Huntsville, Alabama, and now serves as the Chief of Staff for the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Her deployments include Brigade S4 of the 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group (TAOG) during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), (2008-2009) and Iraq Train and Equip Fund Manager at the Baghdad Embassy, in Iraq, during Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) (2014-2015). 

COL Prichard-Brown’s military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with 1 silver oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Basic Airborne Parachutist Badge. She was inducted into the Transportation Regimental Corps Military Order of St. Christopher for her service to the Transportation Corp and the Order of Samuel Sharpe for her distinguished service to the Ordnance Corps. 

COL Prichard-Brown is the winner of the National Joint Women’s Leadership Award (JWLS) for Army Materiel Command (AMC) (2018), Founder of the Female Mentoring and Morale Program (FMMP), and member of the Army Women’s Foundation Board of Directors. She is also a lifetime member of the ROCKS, Incorporated, a two-time ROCKS, Inc. Bobby Burke Award recipient, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. 

COL Prichard-Brown is married to SFC (R) Eric L. Upthegrove. She has a son, Zion Brown (23), and daughter, Zaria Brown (16). She also has a twin sister, LTC Clydellia Prichard-Allen stationed at the Pentagon.


 Graduate Resources for Review:

Commencement is a significant moment for graduates. It marks a pinnacle of achievement, and Savannah State University celebrates the occasion with formal pomp and circumstance. The commencement committee is working to create a positive solution for all involved, so that our student’s accomplishments can be celebrated with family and/or friends in attendance.

Here are a few reminders: 

If there are any concerns about your degree requirements, please contact your academic advisor. Questions related to diplomas or the application for graduation can be directed to the Office of the Registrar at

Graduation Photos for Purchase

Graduates, if you would like to purchase your graduation photos, please visit the Upscale Photography website to shop your images in three galleries: 1) Conferring of degree pics with the President, 2) Graduates on background pics, and 3) Various candid pics. 

Alumni Pinning Ceremony

The Alumni Pinning Ceremony is a sacred rite of passage marking the significant transition whereby graduates leave the ranks of student and are welcomed as esteemed members of the SSU National Alumni Association.

Here are some important things you should know about the Alumni Pinning Ceremony: