By Alonda Thomas

HOUSTONThe Florida A&M University National Alumni Association (FAMUNAA) set a new participation record as more than 450 alumni participated in convention activities in Houston, Texas to raise dollars for scholars during the 2015 National Convention. A total of $203,000 was raised on site, with additional donations flooding in virtually through the portal,

“In just a few moments, together we have doubled the amount of money raised at this event last year,” said FAMUNAA President Tommy Mitchell. “This is how much Rattlers love and support FAMU. We give to ensure a bright future for our alma mater so that the legacy will continue to be there for Rattlers yet unborn.”

Alumna Cheryl A. Miller, Allstate Senior Vice President of Sourcing and Procurement Services, set the tone through her stirring keynote speech where she encouraged the alumni to support the new administration because innovative change is critical to FAMU’s future. Miller reminded the audience that history tells the story of several corporations that are no longer present because they refused to change, such as Blockbuster, Kodak Camera, and Borders Bookstore. Similarly, academia has witnessed the demise of several institutions of higher learning. Miller stressed the importance of coming together to protect FAMU’s longevity.

“Industries evolve to meet future demands and FAMU is no different,” said Miller. “FAMU must evolve to meet the needs of today’s students or lose relevancy.” She invited the alumni to be a part of the change by financially supporting the new president’s vision.

FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., delivered a video message thanking the alumni for their continuous support. FAMU Provost Marcella David shared an impressive list of recent campus accolades. The Social Mobility Index ranked FAMU no. 3 in the nation for facilitating economic opportunity for underserved students. FAMU outranked the nation’s leading Ivy League institutions on the list, such as Princeton (360th), Harvard (438th), and Yale (440th). Additionally, FAMU recently awarded two doctoral degrees in physics to two accomplished African American women. The national average number of African Americans awarded the Ph.D. in physics annually is six.

“There is a lot for you to be proud of as alumni,” said David.

Throughout the convention, alumni were reminded that there are several options to support FAMU. NAA Life Membership dues help to increase the university’s endowment, and those attending the conference were honored during the exclusive Doris Hicks Life Members Reception. Football Coach Alex Wood, Men’s Basketball Coach Byron Samuels, Golf Coach Marvin Green, and Tennis Coach Carl Goodman each outlined financial needs to increase team productivity, including a request for monies to send student athletes to summer school.

Professor Charles Magee, Ph.D., gave a history lesson on the significance of FAMU’s status as an 1890 Land Grant Institution. He has several scholarships to give to students who major in the lucrative field of agriculture science, but needs alumni assistance to direct top scholars his way. Alumna Cecka Rose Green, founder of the FAMU 10 for 10 Campaign, gave a presentation on how the fundraiser went viral instantly when she asked 10 friends to donate $10 to FAMU monthly and then ask 10 others to do the same.  Within 48 hours, the campaign raised $10,000. To date, the initiative has generated $176,000 and garnered 3,000 first time donors. The next phase of the campaign is #8434. When 8,434 commit to donating $10 a month for 12 months, the collective efforts will raise $1 million annually.

Additionally, the convention hosted the FAMU Foundation Board, which met privately to plan business affairs for the next year. The Distinguished Alumni Awards made its inaugural debut at the convention with a sell-out crowd. Twenty-four phenomenal alumni were recognized for their contributions to FAMU and society, each sharing a touching story of how FAMU helped them embody the leadership skills that they share with the world today.

FAMU alumni from across the nation partied with a purpose throughout the 4-day convention. Many are already making plans to attend the 2016 convention, which will be held Memorial Day Weekend in Tampa, Fla.

“The national convention is essentially a large FAMU-ly Reunion,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Clark, FAMUNAA 1st Vice President and Convention Chair. “It’s a great time to catch up with old friends, find out the latest news from the university and give back so that the next generation of Rattlers can experience everything that FAMU has to offer. This has been our largest turn out in six years, and I expect even larger numbers as the Rattlers gather in Tampa next year.”