Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph to Deliver Commencement Address
at Tougaloo College
April 30, 2008 |
Tougaloo, MS- Film, stage and TV actress/singer Sheryl Lee Ralph will address the 2008 graduating class at Tougaloo College. Miss Ralph, perhaps best-known as the original Deena Jones in the Broadway hit, "Dreamgirls," she also has had roles in the films, The Mighty Quinn, Mistress, Distinguished Gentleman and Sister Act II, among others. On television, you may know her from her starring roles in "It's a Living," her own series, "New Attitude," and as Brandy's step-mom in the hit UPN series, "Moesha."
Ms. Ralph wrote and directed the award-winning film short, Secrets with an all-star cast that includes Alfre Woodard, Victoria Rowell, La Tanya Richardson, Robin Givens and herself. Her critically acclaimed and thought-provoking one woman show, "Sometimes I Cry," was inspired by real life stories of women who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.
Sheryl Lee Ralph was educated at, and holds the outstanding honor of being the first woman to graduate from, Rutgers College, which up until her acceptance was a historically male college. She did it in three years and all at the age of 19. She entered Rutgers as a Pre-med major but found her calling on the stage as an English Literature major with a minor in Theatre arts. Of her education she states, "One of the greatest gifts I have ever received is the gift of a good education."
President Beverly W. Hogan shared that she is an admirer of Ms. Ralph. "We are thrilled to have someone of Sheryl Lee Ralph's caliber delivering our commencement address. She is an original, a trailblazer, a woman who has achieved much in a short period of time."
Founded in 1869, Tougaloo College is a private, historically black, coeducational four-year liberal arts institution, located on the northern edge of Jackson, Mississippi. Known nationally as "The Cradle of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi," the College is led by its first female and 13th president, Dr. Beverly Wade Hogan. Dr. Hogan is a 1973 graduate of the College and a native Mississippian. Under her visionary leadership, the College has increased its enrollment by 12% and boasts a student retention rate of 68%.
Tougaloo College ranks among the top 50 U.S. institutions whose graduates earn PHDs in science and engineering disciplines and among the top 15 historically black colleges and universities in the graduation of females with undergraduate degrees in the physical sciences. The College has produced more graduates who have completed their PhD degrees through the UNCF-Mellon Doctoral Fellowship Program than any other institution in the nation.
Listed as one of the Best Colleges in the Southeast by The Princeton Review (2007 and 2008 editions), the highest ranking Mississippi HBCU on U.S. News and World Report's list of "America's Best Black College" (2008) and the only Mississippi institution ranked among the top 20 liberal arts institutions in the nation by Washington Monthly (2007), 66% of its graduates enter professional and graduate schools immediately after graduation. Tougaloo College is the leading producer of African American health professionals, including over 40% of the physicians and dentists, practicing in the state of Mississippi. Among its graduates are more than one-third of the state's African American attorneys and educators including teachers, principals, school superintendents, college/university faculty and administrators.