Valedictorian credits supportive environment at Grambling State for his success

The valedictorian for Grambling State University’s 2023 Spring graduation ceremony is Cazembe Zubari, a 4.0 student earning his bachelor’s degree in Cybersecurity. This semester, eight students are graduating from the program and have each received job offers.

A Cincinnati native, Zubari is part of the inaugural class of Cyber Security students at GSU going back to 2019 when he came to the university as an entering freshman.

A Grambling State legacy student, Zubari said that family tradition was part of his reason for continuing his education at Grambling.

But the chance to be part of that then-new Cyber Security program also played a big part in his decision.

“I had the option of going to around 20 different schools, but Grambling was the one that treated me best as far as scholarships,” Zubari said. “The time I spent on campus briefly touring and the Cyber Security program – It came down to Grambling was where I felt most comfortable out of the schools I visited and seemed to be the place for me.

“My dad had happened to talk with (GSU President Rick Gallot), and President Gallot mentioned there was a new Cyber Security program that was being introduced. I very much did not know what I wanted to do coming into college, so everything just happened to align perfectly with that major and the inaugural class coming in.”

Zubari’s fondness for computers didn’t hurt in making his decision, either.

“But I didn’t want to be a software developer or anything like that,” Zubari said. “So, I didn’t want to major in computer science. But again, everything just kind of lined up and led me to going into cyber security.”

Maintaining a 4.0 grade point average wasn’t always easy, Zubari admitted.

“Calculus II was tough,” Zubari said. “I’m more of an English person than a math person. So that was a very long trial surviving that class. Earning an A in that class was probably one of the biggest celebratory moments of my time in college.”

Zubari, who was home-schooled growing up and graduated from The Buckeye Online School For Success, said it was the Introduction to Cyber Security and the Introduction to Computer Science classes that were his favorites.

“That I was introduced to the humongous worlds of those disciplines,” Zubari said. “Those classes just built my enthusiasm and that as someone who was unsure, led me to know this was the thing I actually wanted to do. The teachers and faculty I met along the way and especially in those first classes – those have a perfect place in my heart as far as my college career goes.”

Zubari also had to endure the COVID pandemic during much of his early time as a student at GSU.

“I was a freshman during the last year of what I’ll call ‘Old Grambling.’ So, I got a small glimpse of what Grambling was like before COVID,” Zubari said. “But at the same time, when I was a freshman, I was very quiet. Then COVID came and we were told to pack up and go home. It was a shocking ordeal.”

“Then the following year the school reopening under much tighter circumstances might have made it disappointing, I suppose, just because I may have missed some of the full college experience. It was an ordeal. But I felt worse for the freshmen coming in. I’m just glad that things loosened up this last year and people are getting to enjoy the Grambling I love again. I’m glad I was able to be part of that at the end of my college career.”

Next stop for Zubari is Atlanta, which he calls home despite growing up in Cincinnati.

“I’ll be there this summer, but I also have a full-time (job) offer with PricewaterhouseCoopers and I’ll be doing cyber-threat intelligence work for the company,” Zubari said.

PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited is an international professional services brand of firms, operating as partnerships under the PwC brand. It is the second-largest professional services network in the world and is considered one of the Big Four accounting firms, along with Deloitte, EY and KPMG.

Zubari said his best memories of Grambling involve the bond he’s built with his frat brothers at GSU.

“I’m a member of Kappa Alpha Psi [Fraternity], Inc., and crossing with my brothers on the Spring 2022 line is easily the most memorable moment of my time in college,” Zubari said. “Just developing that brotherhood and going through it all with my brothers was an experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”

“Looking back, I’m proud to say Grambling State was the place for me and made me a better person. I’ll keep parts of it with me forever as I move on to this next stage in my life. I’m sorry to leave it, but I’m also excited about the future and what it might bring.”