Grambling State University will host two esteemed speakers for its Spring 2021 commencement exercises.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards will speak Wednesday while Louisiana State Sen. Cleo Fields (District 14) will serve as the speaker for the April 15 ceremony the following day.
Set to begin at 9 a.m. each day, the events will be held at Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center for graduates and their families. The ceremonies will also be streamed live on Grambling State’s YouTube channel.
The son of a sheriff and charity hospital nurse, Edwards grew up understanding the importance of serving others at an early age. From his service as an active duty Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army to his time in the Louisiana House of Representatives, Edwards has always put people first. After graduating top of his class, he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Edwards graduated from West Point in 1988, commissioning as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served on active duty for eight years, earning Airborne, Ranger, and Jumpmaster status, culminating with command of a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
After retiring from the Army with the rank of captain, Edwards moved back home and earned a law degree from Louisiana State University before opening a civil law practice in his hometown of Amite.
In 2008, the people of House District 72 elected him to the Louisiana House of Representatives, where he represented the people of Amite, Greensburg, Kentwood, and Hammond for eight years before being elected governor in November of 2015.
On Jan. 11, 2016, Edwards was sworn in as the 56th governor of Louisiana.
Fields is a 1980 graduate of McKinley High School and a 1984 graduate of Southern University in the field of Mass Communications.
In 1987, Fields obtained his law degree from the Southern University Law Center. Upon completion of law school, Fields was elected to the Louisiana State Senate at the age of 24. He became the youngest person ever elected to the State Senate in Louisiana’s history and at that time, the youngest in the nation.
And in 1992, Fields was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Louisiana’s 4th Congressional district.
At the age of 29, Fields was the youngest member of the 103rd Congress. In 1993, he created a Congressional Classroom for elementary through secondary school-age students. Noted for being the first of its kind in the country, the Congressional Classroom helped students develop leadership and self-esteem while understanding the governmental process. It is known today as the Louisiana Leadership Institute.
In 1995, he made a bid for governor of Louisiana, leaving a historical mark by becoming the first African American since reconstruction to make the runoff. He then went on to complete two terms as congressman. On Dec. 13, 1997, Fields returned to the 14th Senatorial District of Louisiana and served until 2008.
On Oct. 12, 2019, Fields was re-elected to the 14th Senatorial District of Louisiana, making history again by becoming the first person in Louisiana to return to the senate for the third time.