Junior graphic design student Elijah Rutland returned to the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University this fall after completing an internship with Warner Brothers. He earned the opportunity after growing his skills in SJGC, building his brand Fix My Soles, and gaining fame the viral “black Rolf” meme.
“The original meme was going around and I saw it and redrew it to look like myself. Representation is so important…People who may not be in the best position (socially) can hope for something more,”Elijah said.
His younger sibling Edna is hoping to make waves of her own at SJGC, where she joined her brother this semester. She’s expected to complete an internship at The New York Times in 2020. Edna earned more than $300,000 in college scholarship offers and once gave a presentation at Harvard University on changes needed in English classrooms to help minority students. Edna joins the ranks of the more than 1,000 talented first-year FAMUans whose average GPA is 3.58 or higher.
Stellar students such as Elijah and Edna who have chosen FAMU contribute to the vitality and staying power of HBCUs.
“I knew this is where I wanted to be and that God and the universe would align things,” Edna said of following in her father’s footsteps.
Edna and Elijah’s father Charles is a 1982 graduate of the FAMU School of Business and Industry. He also served as assistant dean of the College of Business and Industry under Dr. Sybil C. Mobley from 1993-95.
“My dad would always say, ‘You have 110 choices’,” the budding journalist said. “But FAMU was my only choice.”
Charles believes in the powerful benefits of the HBCU experience. FAMU made such an impression on him because it was the first time he says that he was part of the majority and felt “such a sense of empowerment.”
“What schools like FAMU do is so important that if FAMU didn’t exist we would have to call a meeting and invent it,” he said. “It’s just that essential to black progress, black life in America, and ultimately to American progress.”
Dean Michelle Ferrier said she is thrilled that the Rutlands have continued their legacy at FAMU. “We made a concerted effort to recruit the best students from around the country to our program this year, by providing more than $30,000 in scholarships from the school to incoming first-year students who achieved a 4.0 GPA or above. We continue to look at ways to support these high-achieving students and giving them a platform to shine.”
As part of the Dean’s Ambassadors Program, Edna will work closely with the Dean’s Office to support the communications efforts of the school.
“We want to showcase the great talent and skills of our SJGC students,” Ferrier said. “Both Edna and Elijah have been standouts that will continue to elevate the profile of the school and our students.”