Morehouse College’s 132nd Commencement exercises was historic as the College recognized three valedictorians for the first time during 132nd Commencement Exercises. Commencement was Sunday, May 15, 2016, at 8 a.m. at Century Campus.
The students each graduated with a 4.0 GPA and being recognized jointly as valedictorian for the Class of 2016 are Liam R. Davis, Ian Niemeyer and Willie J. Thompson. Salutatorian is Rami Blair.
“The honoring of three of our graduating seniors jointly as valedictorian serves as one proud and significant example of Morehouse College’s commitment to academic excellence — which also ties to one of the College’s strategic focuses of acuity,” said John Silvanus Wilson Jr., president of Morehouse College. “Acuity means striving for the best — both intellectual and personal excellence. These are just a pair of the qualities that embody Morehouse men such as our three valedictorians and salutatorian, and countless scholars who have performed at the highest levels in their respective disciplines. We celebrate these graduating seniors and their successes and will continue to prepare men who demonstrate principles such as acuity and integrity.”
A native of Nassau, Bahamas, Liam R. Davis became interested in Morehouse College as a high-school senior after hearing a then Morehouse student speak about the Morehouse experience. Davis said he passed on an opportunity to attend college at no cost in Ireland, where he’d lived for a time with his mother and one of his two sisters. He decided on Morehouse after applying to some 15 institutions, including New York University and colleges in Florida and Canada.
A business administration major with a concentration in accounting, Davis, 22, received a full academic scholarship to Morehouse, and is a Joseph E. Lowery International Scholarship recipient.
“I feel like I came here as a child thinking that I was an adult,” said Davis. “I feel like this was the incubator stage for me as a man. Looking back to four years ago, I’m a completely different person. I feel like Morehouse was pivotal in terms of helping me find my purpose.”
The youngest of three children, Davis was Freshman Top Ranking GPA Scholar, Sophomore Top Ranking GPA Scholar, Junior Top Ranking GPA Scholar and Senior Top Ranking GPA Scholar. He also is the recipient of the Top Business Calculus Student Award. He has served as a summer scholar for Deloitte Consulting LLP in Atlanta.
Following Morehouse, Davis plans to enroll in the master of science program in accountancy at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, N.C. His ultimate goal is to become the prime minister of the Bahamas.
Ian Niemeyer finished his studies in December, and is set to march with his graduating class during May Commencement. An economics major with a minor in mathematics, Niemeyer works as an investment analyst for Prudential Capital Group in midtown Atlanta. He plans to pursue a career in investing, and ultimately open an investment firm.
Niemeyer served as president and portfolio manager of the Morehouse Investment/Finance Club, a student-run investment fund with more than $115,000 assets under management.
Niemeyer, 22, served as ambassador for the Department of Business Administration and Economics’ International Spring Tour to Colombia and Panama in Spring 2015. Also, in May 2015, he was an Oprah Winfrey International Scholar to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
His interest in Morehouse was sparked in large part by his best friend, Marshall Lewis, also part of the graduating Class of 2016. The native of Durham, N.C., Neimeyer says he and Lewis attended the same elementary school in North Carolina, but separate middle and high schools, all the while remaining friends. While Niemeyer looked at other institutions, it was Morehouse that stood out as his top choice.
“Morehouse just had that special sauce,” said Niemeyer. “There was just something about it that really tipped the scale for me. Looking back, that was the best choice I’ve ever made.
“Morehouse really represented the opportunity for me to both broaden my perspective and get a very unique experience I really don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else, a place that could really challenge my current world view. It was a chance for me to really be a part of the brotherhood that I’ve heard so much about.”
Having grown up in Griffin, Ga., Willie J. Thompson hadn’t experienced a great deal of exposure beyond the South — Georgia and Alabama, in particular. His Morehouse College journey provided him the opportunity to travel outside of the country. It also led to this graduating senior economics major’s path to take up Chinese studies as a minor.
And those studies have prepared Thompson for the 11 months he will spend in Taiwan and TaiChung as a Fulbright Scholar. It’s a path that almost didn’t happen — had Thompson listened to his first thoughts of going off to college to a place that he describes as perhaps offering more diversity than a Historically Black College and University like his mom attended. “Morehouse wasn’t really on my radar,” said Thompson, 22, whose mother graduated from Alabama State University in Montgomery. “I came kicking and screaming, but I’m leaving happy and rejoicing,” added Thompson.
Thompson, who received a tuition award scholarship, was encouraged by a Morehouse man, Giles Eady, a former schoolmate from his high school to attend the College.
“If I didn’t like it, I said I could transfer,” said Thompson. “After being at Morehouse the first semester I realized that everything that Giles told me was true.” Thompson says he studied Latin in high school, but at Morehouse felt the need to challenge himself by focusing on Chinese.
Following his Fulbright opportunity, he plans to go to work for The Bridgespan Group in Boston. He is grateful to be named a Fulbright Scholar and to be recognized as valedictorian.
“At Morehouse, I’ve definitely been challenged academically, I’ve been challenged spiritually,” said Thompson, whose ultimate goal is to found an international fine arts school “to improve international relations between countries.”
Also a Fulbright Scholar and a 2015 Beinecke Scholar, salutatorian Rami Blair graduates with a 3.99 GPA. Blair majored in French language and literature at Morehouse. He has served as a consultant for the International Conference on Caribbean Literature and as a senior Bonner intern at Morehouse.