BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The first black woman in space helped students, faculty, staff and friends of Southern celebrate the university's 136th Founder's Day.
Dr. Mae C Jemison attended a celebration at the F.G. Clark Activity Center on Southern's campus Wednesday morning.
"What's really important about Founder's Day is making that connection back to the past with the commitment and the vision of those who started the university on forward to today," Jemison said.
Roena Wilford is a Southern University science graduate from the class of 1971. She attended the Founder's Day events to hear Jemison's keynote address.
"She is the epitome of what you can do," Wilford said. "Though she's not a Southern grad, but the fact that she did this, the ones coming after me can do the same thing," said Wilford.
In addition to celebrating another year since Southern's founding, the university honored a pioneering group of alumni who contributed to the integration of the fields of science and engineering. There were 13 students from the 1963-64 academic year that were all recruited by NASA, making Jemison's journey into space possible.
"It was a critical juncture in U.S. and world history when we were looking at space exploration and making sure that it can benefit all of us moving forward," Jemison said. "That participation of those students helped to change and make sure we have a true representation of everyone we have in this country."
Southern has impacted generations for 136 years, and the university aims to impact generations to come.
"Southern is great and grand and we have our challenges just like everyone else, but Southern does and Southern will continue to do," Wilford said.