GSU to award posthumous degrees

This week will be a cause for celebration and remembrance as Grambling State University holds its Fall 2021 commencement exercises today through Dec. 17. Unique to this semester’s ceremonies is the awarding of a posthumous degree to the late on Jamarcea Washington Dec. 16 and the late Natalie Desselle Reid.

 In coordination with the family of the late Natalie Desselle Reid, the honorary bachelor’s degree presentation planned in her memory will be postponed to a later date. Logistical challenges hindered the ability of members of Reid’s family to be in attendance for the honor.

Commencement ceremonies are slated to begin at 9 a.m. each day, and they will be held in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center and streamed live on Grambling State’s YouTube channel. 

A native of Alexandria, actress Natalie Desselle Reid graduated from Peabody Magnet High School and attended Grambling State University for 2 1/2 years. The acting bug bit her after a starring role in Grambling State’s production of “Bubbling Brown Sugar.” After several productions as a thespian, she decided to move to Los Angeles and test the waters. Realizing Hollywood was not aware of her “arrival,” she became a receptionist, a soul food waitress, and lastly a tank mechanic at McDonnell Douglas. 

Her break came when Robi Reed cast her in F. Gary Gray’s “Set It Off,” which led to a guest-starring role on television’s “Family Matters.” After her initial foray into Hollywood, she found herself looking for opportunities while living in Inglewood, California, and then the call came. The role that established her as a comedic thespian aka “the funny chick” in Robert Townsend’s” B.A.P.S”, starring opposite Halle Berry. The films “How to be a Player,” “Cinderella” and television’s “Built to Last” and “For Your Love” followed. 

In the 2000s, she played Janie Egins on the television show “Eve” for three seasons, and had one of her last film roles in Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011). Her most cherished production was her family, which included her husband Lenny Reid and their three children Sereno, Summer and Sasha. Her family will be present to receive the honorary Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual and Performing Arts in her memory. 

Jamarcea Washington was a graduate of Southwood High School in Shreveport. His path led him to Grambling State University where he majored in criminal justice and was a bass drummer for the World Famed Tiger Marching Band before his untimely passing in October this year. Affectionately known as “Jay,” his family will be present to receive the posthumous Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice in his memory. 

For more information about commencement, visit www.gram.edu/graduation. 

 


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