Keziah Knights has worked hard to make her family – and herself – proud. That hard work has paid off, as she has been named the top honor graduate in Claflin University’s Class of 2014.
“My dad always told me growing up to make sure people know your name, but for good reasons,” the Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College student said. “But I’m kind of quiet. I don’t like people knowing I got the highest grade in my class. I don’t like the recognition – I just like doing the work and being done.
“It’s not like I was in a competition, but I always wanted to make sure that my dad was happy. I did it for my family.”
Knights, daughter of Michelle Williams and Neraun Knights, is part of the largest graduating class in Claflin University’s history. Some 423 students will receive bachelor’s or graduate degrees at the 2014 Commencement Convocation at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 10, 2014, at the Seventh-day Adventist Worship and Convention Center in Orangeburg.
The speaker for this year’s ceremony is Dr. Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and founding and executive director of Harvard’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. Joining the program participants this year are two prominent civil rights leaders, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and Rep. Andrew Young, also a pastor, who will deliver the invocation and benediction. Lowery and Young have relatives in the graduating class. The Golden Class of 1964 will celebrate its 50th reunion, as well.
A complete list of commencement-related activities and events is available online at www.claflin.edu.
While admission to the event is by ticket only, the ceremony will be streamed live online at www.claflin.edu. A complete list of commencement-related activities and events is also available online at www.claflin.edu.
Knights is leaving Claflin with a 4.0 GPA, but said she will take a break before beginning the next chapter of her academic career. She is currently looking for a job that is fulfilling and rewarding.
“I want to work for a little while and then go to graduate school,” the accounting major from Snellville, Ga., said. “I kind of feel bad about it, because all of my peers have jobs, but I don’t want to rush into a job. I can’t do that to myself. I know I’m going to have to work somewhere just to get to where I want to be, but I still don’t want to just apply for any job just because I meet the requirements. I want to make sure that I make the right decision for me.”
Eventually, Knights said she would like to work as a certified public accountant and own her own spa. She may even wind up teaching one day, a career that Knights said she has contemplated since she was young.
“I have a lot of interests in different things,” she said of the unlikely pairing of professions. “I’ve always believed you should do what makes you happy. It’s your life to live … and all of the money in the world is not going to make you happy.”
While at Claflin, Knights immersed herself in a variety of activities. In addition to serving as a math tutor, she has performed with the University’s Gospel Choir and PULSE Dance Company, been a Panther Doll, and joined the Delta Mu Delta business honor society and NABA, the National Association of Black Accountants.
“I get bored easily, so I knew I had to get myself involved in stuff instead of sitting around with nothing to do,” she said. “And I couldn’t just get involved in one thing and do just that one thing.”
Knights said in many ways, Claflin University reminded her of her alma mater, Decatur High School in Georgia.
“I didn’t really care about the size of the college I went to, because I knew I had to go to college and I was going to do what I had to do to get through it,” she said. “The faculty and staff and everyone at Claflin actually do care. They help you. It’s crazy that you can walk in and they know who you are and call you by your first name. It’s more friendly, and you’re more willing to go places and willing to talk to people and show up to class.”