Savannah State Confers 11 Student-Athletes Degrees In Virtual Commencement

Karissa Tatum Awarded Degree Posthumously


Joining the largest class to ever graduate from Savannah State, 11 student athletes received their degrees during the University’s virtual commencement ceremony Saturday, May 9.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the student athletes, alongside over 400 other Savannah State students, were recognized during a live-streamed event honoring the Class of 2020.

Savannah State alumnus Shannon Sharpe appeared in a video with some words of encouragement for the new graduates. Sharpe, now the co-host of Skip and Shannon: Undisputed on Fox Sports, is an NFL Hall of Famer. He played 14 seasons in the NFL, winning three Super Bowls. He graduated from Savannah State in 1991.

Three Savannah State student-athletes in the 2020 class graduated with honors.

Volleyball player Jamese Scott (Conyers, Ga.) was conferred a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

Golfer Monique Veal (Macon, Ga.) earned her Bachelor of Science in Sociology, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Baseball’s Ben Botham (Seminole, Fla.) graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History.

Veal was joined in ceremony by teammates Kayla Jones (Douglasville, Ga.), Bachelor of Science in Math and Tasneem Ward (Winter Park, Fla.), Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications.

Joining Botham from the baseball team was DaMorris Gresham (Hephzibah, Ga.), Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, and Aaron Straker (Brooklyn, NY), Bachelor of Arts in Marketing.

The football program graduated four student athletes on Saturday. Tracy Gaston (Riverdale, Ga.), who also ran track for Savannah State, earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology. Ronnie Johnson (Screven County, Ga.) earned his Bachelor of Arts Marketing, and Djuan Tinsley (Savannah, Ga.) was conferred a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.

Former football player, Monroe D. Thornton, III, was awarded the President’s 2nd Mile Award, one of the highest graduating honors. Thornton earned a Bachelor of Arts in English.

Savannah State also honored volleyball player Karissa Tatum (Lafayette, Ga.) during the commencement on Saturday. Tatum, who passed away in September of 2019 after an auto accident during the evacuation for Hurricane Dorian, was awarded an Associate of Arts posthumously with a video memorial.

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