Reverend Jesse Jackson Urges Virginia College Grads to 'Make a Difference' With Their New Degrees

Feb 22, 2011

Students, staff, faculty, family and friends listen as Rev. Jackson delivers Virginia College commencement address at Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center arena.

Civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson told new graduates of Virginia College's Birmingham, Alabama, campus that Dr. Martin Luther King would have been happy to observe the success they have achieved by earning their new college degrees.

"Just look at your faces, black and white, male and female," Jackson told the almost 400 graduates at the school's winter-quarter commencement exercise, which was held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center arena. "Now, take that degree and go out and do something to make a difference. Dr. King would rejoice to see you if he could be here in Birmingham at your graduation."

Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses almost 400 grads at winter-quarter commencement for Virginia College in Birmingham, Alabama.

The school, which has been serving Birmingham students and employers for almost thirty years, offers over two-dozen academic programs at its campus in the Palisades Center, just off Oxmoor Road. Virginia College specializes in preparing graduates for careers in job fields in which growth is expected and employer demand is greatest. These fields include health and medical, business, information technology, personal care, culinary arts, and interior design.

Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses almost 400 grads at winter-quarter commencement for Virginia College in Birmingham, Alabama.
In his address, Rev. Jackson told the graduates that they were following in a legacy of others who have gone to college despite obstacles in their way. He saluted Virginia College for its efforts to make education available to those who might not otherwise be able to obtain it.

"We were delighted that Reverend Jackson joined a long list of leaders who have delivered our commencement address," says Tom Moore, CEO of Education Corporation of America, which is headquartered in Birmingham and is the parent company of Virginia College. "He has been a strong and vocal supporter of the kind of practical educational alternatives we provide our students and has expressed to me how excited he was to come meet and speak to our graduates."

Before the commencement, Rev. Jackson presented plaques to a number of graduates who had achieved perfect attendance at the school. Virginia College emphasizes work ethic and employability, and being in class and arriving on time is just one way the school prepares students for success in their chosen careers.