Graduate Shares Story of Transformation at 2013 Commencement

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Article by: Joe Clark,

LARGO, Md.—Juanita Y. Artis (Hyattsville, Md.) will deliver the student address at Prince George’s Community College’s 54th Commencement Exercises, Thursday, May 23, 7 p.m. at The Showplace Arena and Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Md. Artis will receive an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice and associate of arts degree in psychology. She plans to attend University of Maryland, College Park in the fall. 

“Prince George's Community College has transformed me as a leader, a student and a woman,” said Artis. “The message that I want students to take away from my speech is that you can dictate your own future through the lessons you have learned here at the college,” she added. 

Artis was selected as the 2013 Student Commencement Speaker after participating in a rigorous review process. Candidates were asked to submit an application and an essay. Finalists performed a version of their essay and speech before a committee of faculty and staff.  

She graduated from high school with a 1.2 grade point average and faced tremendous personal family struggles prior to her arrival at Prince George’s Community College. During Artis’ first semester, she was cast in the theatre production “For Colored Girls,” which helped her self-discovery.  In her second year, she joined the Student Governance Association, developed confidence and enhanced her public speaking skills.  Artis credits her professors for challenging her to understand that “A’s” in the classroom and in life are earned through hard work. Today, she has a 3.48 grade point average. 

“Ms. Artis’ significant academic achievements, thoughtful essay responses and her commitment to her community were major reasons the committee chose her for the prestigious honor,” said Clover Baker-Brown, professor of communications and chair of the Student Commencement Speaker Committee at Prince George’s Community College. “As someone who has overcome educational obstacles and grown to become an exceptional student, Ms. Artis has made us proud to have her as a role model and to share her story of success with the larger college community,” she added. 

Artis is a member of the Dean’s List, Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, Psi Beta Honor Society (National Honor Society in Psychology for Community and Junior Colleges) and the first cohort of Women of Wisdom. She was named to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges,” served as student speaker at Student Advocacy Day and mentor with A.L.A.N.A. (African, Latino, Asian, Native American), elected president of the Student Governance Association and participated in the Pathways to Student Leadership Program.    

In addition to her academic success, she volunteered to organize a food drive at Martha’s Table, walked to raise money for Autism and Alzheimer’s charities and volunteered at Career Works and Café 458 in Atlanta, Georgia during the college’s Alternate Spring Break trip. Currently, she is working part time at Prince George’s Community College as an activities assistant in the College Life Services Department. 

Prince George’s Community College is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Two-year Education designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security (2010-2015). Established in 1958, Prince George’s Community College provides transfer and career programs that help students transfer to four-year colleges and universities and prepare them for the workforce. Each year, 40,000 students take part in more than 200 academic programs and workforce development and continuing education courses. Located in Largo, Maryland, Prince George’s Community College has additional sites at Joint Base Andrews, University Town Center in Hyattsville, Laurel College Center, Skilled Trades Center in Camp Springs, Westphalia Training Center in Upper Marlboro, and John Eager Howard Community Center. For more information, visit the college website at, follow on Twitter,  Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn and tune-in to Transforming Lives at Prince George’s Community College, Mondays at 11 a.m.  

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