Queen Latifah delivers the keynote address at Capital One Arena for Strayer University's 2018 graduating class on June 23. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Strayer University graduates, 1,400 poised to receive associate, undergraduate and master’s degrees and already pumped up, exhibited even greater joy as the drumline from Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville moved their exuberance to even greater heights.

But for some of the grads, the best part of the day may well have been the encouraging message shared by the commencement speaker, Dana Owens, more commonly known as Queen Latifah.

In her opening remarks, she told the graduating students that she understood both the challenges and potential opportunities that have and will continue to face the Class of 2018.

“It hasn’t always been easy, has it?” said Queen Latifah whose question receiving a roaring “No” from the graduates.

“This is the day you have been dreaming about,” she added, speaking to a cadre of graduates who not only remained committed to their academic pursuits but also handled additional responsibilities because of their roles as parents, full-time employees, caregivers, members of the military or community volunteers.

Sareeta Spriggs (MBA 2010) is the recipient of the Outstanding Alumni award during Strayer University’s commencement exercises at the Capital One Arena on June 23. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

“There may have been days when you doubted yourself and you were ready to quit, but you didn’t,” she said. “You had the courage to venture into something new, something life-changing, something powerful – education!”

Prior to her role as commencement speaker, Queen Latifah drew attention to her new academic partnership with Strayer in which she’ll be featured in an 11-week online course that focuses on building two essential traits for success in any industry: confidence and perseverance.

Additionally, Strayer University will produce a separate “Back to School” no-cost course with Queen Latifah in Fall 2018 that will provide students practical tips and skills essential to academic success.

“I’m thrilled to partner with Strayer University to help their students succeed. I’m honored to add to that legacy and support students who are working so hard to further their careers,” Queen Latifah said.

During the ceremony, one former Strayer graduate, who earned an MBA in 2010, received a special award because of her successful efforts to combine her career with her academic goals. She said she fully understands what it’s like to juggle a job, college and the need to give back to one’s community.

“I want to encourage the class of 2018 to just go and get it. Many times, we just sit back and wait. Go after your dreams and if your plan doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board. Plan, work, succeed,” said Sareeta Spriggs, who received Strayer’s Outstanding Alumni Award and currently serves as deputy director for Serve DC, part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office on Volunteerism.

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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