Georgia Tech First Black Student – Ronald Yancey Pass the Masters’ Baton at Alma Mater to his Grand-daughter – Deanna Yancey at her graduation

At this year’s Spring Commencement, a momentous occasion unfolded at Georgia Tech, marking a poignant milestone in the university’s history. Nearly six decades after Ronald Yancey, a trailblazer who became the first Black student to graduate from Georgia Tech, walked across the stage, his granddaughter, Deanna Yancey, has followed in his footsteps to receive her master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. In a touching display of familial legacy and academic achievement, Ronald Yancey not only attended the ceremony but also had the honor of presenting his granddaughter’s diploma onstage at McCamish Pavilion.

For Deanna Yancey, the journey to this moment has been imbued with a sense of purpose and determination. Growing up in Columbia, Maryland, she developed a passion for technology at an early age, often tinkering with computers alongside her father. This early exposure ignited her curiosity in electrical engineering, prompting her to pursue higher education in the field. Although she initially chose to study elsewhere, the allure of Georgia Tech’s renowned program eventually drew her back, fueled by a desire to delve deeper into her chosen field.

The significance of this achievement is not lost on Deanna Yancey, who acknowledges the resilience and perseverance exhibited by her grandfather in the face of adversity. Ronald Yancey’s experience as a Black student navigating the challenges of an predominantly white institution during the tumultuous 1960s serves as a poignant reminder of the progress made and the obstacles overcome. Despite the hardships he endured, his unwavering commitment to excellence and his alma mater remains a source of inspiration for future generations.

Reflecting on her graduate school experience, Deanna expresses gratitude for the opportunities afforded to her at Georgia Tech. The inclusive environment, coupled with passionate faculty members, has provided her with invaluable insights and hands-on experience in her field. As she prepares to embark on the next phase of her career at Northrop Grumman, Deanna remains committed to paying it forward, aspiring to mentor and empower the next wave of aspiring engineers.

As he proudly looks on, he sees not only a continuation of his own journey but also the dawn of a new era filled with limitless possibilities. In this symbolic passing of the baton, the struggles of the past converge with the aspirations of the future, forging a path towards progress and inclusivity in the realm of engineering and beyond.


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