‘50 Under 50’ ceremonies recognize the university’s best and brightest graduates



The 2021 Class of ‘50 Under 50’ took a moment after the ceremony to pose for a class photo. Members have made an impact in business, education, science, medicine, sports, law/government, media/entertainment, the arts community, and etc.

Tammia Jacobs, Senior Staff Reporter/Writer

The Alabama State University Office of Development and Alumni Relations hosted the 50 Under 50 Alumni Award Ceremony Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021.  The inductions were held as two separate in-person ceremonies for the 2020 and 2021 honorees in the Ralph Abernathy Great Hall of Teachers. Nominations for the 50 Under 50 awards were submitted from across the country.  This event makes an effort to engage, educate, honor and develop the upcoming generation of advocates, donors and ambassadors for ASU.

“The in-person ceremony that was scheduled for the 2020 honorees had to be canceled due to the pandemic,” said Jennifer Anderson, Executive Director for Institutional Advancement Initiatives and the ASU Foundation.  “ We made a commitment to those honorees that they would have the opportunity to return to campus for an in-person ceremony.” 

The exceptional groups of honorees, Anderson said, are considered to be among the best and the brightest alumni of Alabama State University.

“This year’s recipients have been selected because they demonstrate excellence in their respective fields and the highest standards of ethical conduct, integrity and social responsibility,” remarked Anderson.

 As representatives of the university, these 50 alumni class members may be called upon throughout the academic year to serve as spokespeople, panelists, advisory committee members or many other distinctive opportunities.

The requirements for nomination include a number of regulations. Nominees must be an Alabama State University graduate (undergraduate or have a graduate degree). They must not have reached their 51st birthday by Sept. 1, 2021. Nominees must have made an impact in business, education, science, medicine, sports, law/government, media/entertainment, the arts community, community/religious leadership and/or organizational leadership. Nominee must be willing to develop/maintain a committed relationship with Alabama State University, and must be willing to contribute annually to ASU, etc. 

The ceremony began with some words from the current president Dr. Quinton T. Ross Ed.D., who commended the inductees on their strenuous efforts to uphold the university.

“I would like to congratulate you all on behalf of the faculty, staff, and the Board of Trustees,” Ross said. “I’m truly proud of you all and all of the success that you have unmasked within your respective professions. Keep representing us well. Alabama State University is known throughout the nation, and with your continued efforts,  we can keep it that way.”

The congratulatory speech from Ross was followed up by a list of names being read aloud of the inductees as they walked across the stage of the Ralph David Abernathy Auditorium and received their well-deserved acclaim. Their pictures, as well as their graduating year and professional degree, were projected behind them. Some of the recognized inductees included Katrina Adams (’07), Dr. Ashley Davis Beasley (’00), Wesley Cunningham (’97), Latasha Craft-Allen (‘99), Lauryn Chambers (‘08) and Tauheed “2 Chainz” K. Epps (‘97).

Honoree Monita Bell, managing editor of Learning for Justice, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, felt humbled for being recognized for excellence in her field.

“Just to be considered felt like an honor in itself. For members of the Hornet family to decide that my work and my contributions are worthy of recognition and that I make O’ Mother Dear proud brings me so much joy. I’m honored to represent our alma mater in this way. And the fact that I’ve been selected among so many change-making, innovative, stellar fellow alumni makes it even more powerful. I’m proud to be in the number,” said Bell, a 2006 English (print journalism minor) alumna.

Bell said she is proud of ASU and has nothing but warm memories of her ASU days.  

“In spite of various setbacks and trials, especially in these last couple of years, we have continued to thrive, blaze trails and celebrate and take care of each other. It’s beautiful to see and to be part of. That care for each other was so evident from my time as a student—the ways professors and other staff would care for students and the ways upperclassmen and alumni would look out for younger students. My crew since freshman year is still part of my crew for life. ASU is a beautiful family,” said Bell.

According to the Alabama State University 50 under 50 webpage, representatives of the 50 under 50 event say judges are interested in nominees who have notable achievements in their specific career fields, which includes community work. Nominations for the current academic school year are closed, but for future reference, when nominating an inductee, measurable achievements such as increasing profits, awards from professional associations or other groups, or completion of a project should be included. The judges are also looking for community and volunteer involvement that speaks to the nominee’s willingness to help those in need, as well as their commitment and contribution.