Before walking across the stage on May 13, graduating seniors in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences gathered one last time to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and pass the torch to their underclassmen.

On April 26, CAES held its annual Student Awards Ceremony in the New Academic Classroom Building.

“This used to be a banquet, but now it’s an awards ceremony, mainly because there are so many amazing scholars, amazing awardees that are killing it,” said host and coordinator of veterinary education Andrea Gentry-Apple, Ph.D. “We could not go another year without recognizing your overall successes, without talking about your achievements, and without making sure that you guys, the bright, shining stars that you are, were able to be recognized on a night like tonight.”

Dean Mohamed Ahmedna, Ph.D., said the graduating students would be “Aggies for life” and that fellow employees have offered praise to the quality of the college’s graduates.

“As a college, our main asset and resource is you, our outstanding students, and we thank you for that,” said Ahmedna. “You’re our best ambassadors. We thank you for doing your job and we’re very proud of you and count on you to continue to make us look and feel good.”

Each department invited a stellar senior to “Pass the Torch” in a short speech to their peers, reflecting on their academic journey, and offering advice to the next group of seniors.

Kortni Blalock, an agribusiness major, said she encourages incoming undergraduates and transfer students to “immerse yourself” in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, which she says helped offer opportunities such as the 1890 Scholars Program, MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences) and the FAS Diversity Fellowship Program.

“The staff and faculty here have been amazing in the College of Agriculture and have been a tremendous support,” said Blalock. “They’ve always been there to help me for not only my academic goals but also my personal goals as well. They were always available to help me and make sure that I had several types of opportunities. I just wanted to take a giant leap to attend here, and I have absolutely no regrets at all.”

Following graduation, Blalock said she will be studying for her master’s degree in agricultural economics at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Animal science major and White House HBCU Scholar Milosh McAdoo vividly recalled the day he received the news he was attending N.C. A&T.

“It was a normal day in March 2019,” said McAdoo. “I was driving home from my high school in my ’98 green Honda CRV when I stopped in front of my house. In my mailbox sat a big, white package with an A&T logo. My heart began to race with fear and excitement both flowing evenly. I opened the package with a letter that started with ‘Congratulations…’. I had done it. I had earned a full-ride to A&T as a Cheatham White Scholar.”

McAdoo, who will be working for Midan Marketing after graduating with plans to enroll in graduate school, said the incoming group of seniors should “reach back” and help their underclassmen when given the opportunity.

“Every person within my support network here at A&T has taught me something different, and these lessons have contributed to my accomplishments and to the person I’ve become in the past four years,” said McAdoo.

Anthony Marshall, a fashion merchandising and design major with a minor in professional theater, said his academic journey had many several peaks and valleys, including fluctuating grades, switching majors, remote learning during the pandemic, and his father’s passing in 2021.

“After this devastating tragedy, my mental and emotional state was shot,” said Marshall. “I was failing classes and I just wanted to quit everything. After talking with my family, we decided it was best to take the semester off as a part-time student, where I was enrolled in only one course. Doing so ultimately pushed back my graduation date. At first, I was devastated as I wasn’t going to graduate on time with my friends with whom I’d started this journey. But looking back, I can genuinely say that if I had not taken that break, I would’ve flunked out of college. I needed to  reevaluate where my life was at that moment, and the direction I wanted to go.”

Marshall referred to fall 2021 through summer 2022, his extended junior year, as his “phoenix era.” He returned as a full-time student, made the Dean’s List and was one of 12 fashion students selected to tour New York City as part of a sponsored trip by Gap Inc. and Icon360. He will be returning to NYC to work on the photo shoot development team of retailer Saks Fifth Avenue.

This year’s ceremony also recognized 69 students in the University Honors Program, five Gamma Sigma Delta members who received the Undergraduate Award of Merit, six members of the college’s Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, as well as scholarship recipients from all respective academic departments.