Internationally Known Jazz Singer Gives Inspiring Message and Serenades Class of 2013


On Friday, May 3rd, American National University held a graduation ceremony to confer degrees to 126 graduates from the $$Roanoke Valley Campus. The ceremony was held at the Salem Civic Center and featured an inspirational message by internationally known jazz singer Jane Powell, who gave the commencement address.

Ms. Powell encouraged the new graduates to take control of their destiny. “Each day is going to be a new journey,” she said, as she explained that there will be good and bad journeys. She told them to be prepared to reinvent themselves as they go along just as she has had to reinvent her voice as she has gotten older. She urged her audience to cherish every day, even the bad times. “If you look back on that bad moment, then there’s always a message for you.” After her speech, Ms. Powell led the crowd in a rendition of Bob Marley’s “One Love.”

[img]ANU President Frank Longaker applauded Ms. Powell’s speech and song, noting that she gave one of the best commencement addresses that he has heard. He then presented her with an honorary Master of Business Administration degree in recognition of her life’s accomplishments.

Before the diplomas were awarded, graduates Melvin Huff and Jamil Srour were presented with Alumni Hall of Achievement Awards, which honors graduates who have excelled in their careers and in their service to the community since their graduation. After he earned a business administration-management degree from National, Melvin joined the United States Army, where in the Non-Commissioned Officer’s Academy, he continued learning in Leadership School and in Combat Medic School. While in the Army, he began a career in the field of radiology, and after his time in the service, he worked nearly 30 years as a respected employee of the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

In addition to earning an MBA from American National University, Jamil has studied at Thessalonica University and Athens University in Greece; Bethlehem University in Ramallah, the West Bank; and Bangalore University in Bangalore, India. He attributes his MBA from ANU for leading him to an exciting and diverse career. He was an advisor to Mitt Romney during his run for presidency; he is a senior consultant and trainer with governmental and quasi-governmental regulatory groups in counter-terrorism; he is a translator and consultant for his church, whose Utah-based conferences are often broadcast worldwide; he sits on the Board of Directors of Family Action Counsel International which lobbies the UN and US Congress for strengthening families; and he works for ANU as the director of international student relations.

As the ceremony came to a close, James Pitts, a graduate of the business administration-management program, re-joined the stage and captured the hearts of everyone in attendance as he proposed to his girlfriend Julie. (She said yes.)


In the top photo, business administration-management graduate and veteran Kathy E. Garrison is pictured blowing a kiss to her family in the audience as she marched to her seat with fellow graduates during the graduation ceremony.

ANU President Frank Longaker is pictured presenting an honorary MBA degree to internationally known jazz singer and the ceremony’s guest speaker Jane Powell.

Graduates Melvin Huff and Jamil Srour are pictured at the graduation ceremony just before accepting their Alumni Hall of Achievement Awards.

Graduate James Pitts is pictured proposing to his girlfriend Julie at the end of the graduation ceremony.

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