FAMU Alum Issues $100K Donation Challenge During Commencement Address

August 01, 2021
Marcelia Freeman
FAMU Alum Issues $100K Donation Challenge During Commencement Address

Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumna Marcelia Freeman urged attendees to Saturday’s commencement for 2020 graduates to donate to help future Rattlers and pledged to match up to $100,000 in donations.

Freeman spoke to 2020 School of Business & Industry (SBI), College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health, and School of Environment graduates and their relatives Saturday morning and College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences graduates Saturday afternoon. 

“I hope you will consider supporting the endowment with a small gift before you leave this campus,” Freeman told those gathered in the Al Lawson Gymnasium and Multipurpose Center. “I don’t care that you had to wait in line for financial aid. It’s not about that. It’s about those who come after you and creating a clearer path for them.

“I’ll even match you dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000. Let’s see what you’ve got,” she challenged the audience. “You can’t break me. Help us secure the bag and the future of FAMU.”

To donate, visit my.famu.edu/give or text FAMURISING at 41444.

Freeman’s challenge came about an hour before FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., announced that the University had spent $16 million to clear balances in student University accounts during the past year.

Freeman also discussed her civic roles including service as the vice chair of the FAMU Foundation Board Investment Committee. 

“We’re focused on stewardship of the dollars that Rattlers, families and friends of Rattlers, and employers of Rattlers have entrusted with us,” said Freeman, a 15-year veteran of the financial services industry. “We’re building a diversified portfolio to withstand cycles and volatility with a stable of managers that increasingly looks like you and me.”

During her 15-minute address, Freeman, a self-described Army brat who has lived all across the U.S. but grew up mainly in Montgomery, Alabama, talked about her FAMU journey and her career path. Following her graduation from FAMU in 2005, she worked for JP Morgan in New York in private banking. Since then, Freeman was a senior vice president of Capital Development at EIG Global Energy Partners in Washington, D.C., where she was responsible for developing relationships with investors globally and managing products across the platform, including global energy-focused direct lending and structured capital strategies. 

Freeman earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2010. Since 2020 she has worked in investor relations and product management for Clearlake Capital Group, a Santa Monica, California, based private equity firm. As a longtime practitioner of “Black excellence,” Freeman spoke of the need for more than individual success. 

“Because my tribe and the people they represent, I am deliberately and maniacally focused on collective success, when it would be so easy to be selfish,” said Freeman. “It would be so easy to focus on me and only me, on my next steps, instead of our forging ahead. It takes awareness, intention, conviction.

Then, quoting lyrics from Tupac Shakur, she quipped, “Ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.”