ATLANTA—Morehouse College is proud to announce co-valedictorians Nanya El and Kymani Joachim and salutatorian Amari Parris for the graduating class of 2021. These soon-to-be Morehouse men earned the top three grade point averages of the class in one of the closest competitions for the coveted academic titles in years. They will be honored at the College’s commencement ceremony, taking place on the campus of Morehouse College on Sunday, May 16 at 9 a.m.
Nanya El of Gary, Indiana, is the first member of his family to pursue a college education. The task seemed daunting as he navigated applications and explored how to fund his education. Today, he is preparing for graduation as a business administration major with a concentration in marketing and is the recipient of more academic scholarships than he can remember. El made his mark at Morehouse by pursuing activities in business and leadership through clubs such as the Morehouse Business Association, Career Leadership Institute, National Society of Leadership and Success, Beta Gamma Sigma Honors Society, and Douglass Resource Center. His next academic feat will be pursuing a Master of Business Administration and post-graduation job opportunities which will help build an experiential foundation for entrepreneurship. Building generational wealth for his family is a primary long-term goal for this scholar.
“Morehouse exposed me to the depth and breadth of the Black American experience,” reflected El. “I never realized how diverse Black Americans are. It was great to be a part of a sea of Black men who are all on a positive mission. I felt like I was making a change in the world and constantly evolving due to being surrounded by people who want to see ourselves be the best we could be.”
The second co-valedictorian for the class of 2021is Kymani Joachim, a kinesiology major from Pasadena, California. While maintaining a Dean’s List and Honor Roll status throughout his tenure at Morehouse, Kymani earned Certifications of Excellence in Mathematics and joined organizations such as National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, American Physical Therapy Association, and Phi Beta Kappa, among many others. Outside of academic pursuits, Joachim served as an athletic trainer volunteer for the Morehouse College Football team, the head of the sports medicine sector for the kinesiology program, and a peer counselor for the Morehouse CHILL mental health advocacy organization, tutored at the Rosebuds Academy, and interned for CourtsCornerLA, a sports medicine program for the Los Angeles Sparks.
After graduation, Joachim will head back to the west coast in pursuit of a Master of Science in biokinesiology and physical therapy with an emphasis in sports medicine at the University of Southern California. As he prepares for his next chapter, he aims to represent the quintessential Morehouse Man.
“A Morehouse Man is one who knows how to articulate his thoughts with emotional intelligence,” explained Joachim. “He remains open-minded and strives to maintain a well-balanced outlook and approach to life. He is humble during the good times and patient during difficulties.”
The class of 2021 salutatorian is Amari Parris, a kinesiology, sports studies, and physical education major from Silver Spring, Maryland. While maintaining Dean’s List status, good standing in the Howard Thurman Honors Program, and participating in several campus clubs, Parris took ownership of his Morehouse experience by building his resilience and ability to advocate for himself.
“I cared enough about my future to speak up and break down any door that stood between me and my goals,” said Parris. “Although this was difficult, I am now better for it. I created my own opportunities and spaces to indulge as many interests as possible. As a result, I now have a pretty colorful resume, if I do say so myself.”
Upon graduation, he will pursue a master’s degree in sports management at Columbia University with the long-term goal of becoming an intercollegiate athletic director who will make a positive impact on the current amateur sports model and grow the college sports ecosystem.
On May 16, El, Joachim, and Parris will join fellow members of the senior class for Morehouse College’s 137th Annual Commencement. The ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. on the Century Campus, with limited seating reserved for the platform party, faculty, graduates, and up to four seats per graduate. The Commencement address will be delivered by famed Civil Rights attorney and founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan A. Stevenson. Additionally, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and creator of The 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters.