Dillard University today announced U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama as its spring commencement speaker, but many at the New Orleans historically Black college are heralding the senior class president for the historic appearance.
Nicole Tinson, a senior political science major and president of the graduating class of 2014, knew that it would take a special kind of commitment to make good on her promise of delivering a memorable commencement speaker on May 10. Tinson, named in February by the Department of Education as one of the nation’s 75 ‘HBCU All-Stars,’ wrote to the First Lady requesting that Dillard join the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Spelman College, North Carolina A&T State and Bowie State University among the FLOTUS’ HBCU graduation day stops.
“I never allowed others doubt in getting a great commencement speaker to bother me,” said the Los Angeles native. “I told my story [and the Dillard story] in a letter to Mrs. Obama and kept my faith. As senior class president, I made a vow to our class that we would have someone amazing for commencement and we have the FLOTUS. I don’t think it gets any more amazing than that.”
Dillard President Walter Kimbrough says that while the entire campus community is excited about Obama’s visit, Tinson deserves the credit.
“We are so excited to host First Lady Michelle Obama as our commencement speaker. But I am more excited that our senior class president, Nicole Tinson, used her Dillard tenacity and grit to get Mrs. Obama here. Nicole did this on her own and I am so proud of her.”