Granddaughter of Georgia Tech’s First Black Graduate Receives Diploma 59 Years Later From Same University

by Gee NY
Deanna Yancey smiles with a statue of her grandfather, Ronald, who was the first Black student to graduate from Georgia Tech in 1965. Courtesy Deanna Yancey

In a touching moment at Georgia Tech’s recent graduation ceremony, Ronald Yancey, the university’s pioneering first Black graduate, had the honor of handing his granddaughter, Deanna Yancey, her diploma.

The symbolic gesture marks a profound family legacy spanning nearly six decades.

The graduation ceremony, held at McCamish Pavilion on Friday, May 3, 2024, was a milestone for many students, but for Deanna, it held an even deeper significance.

Having earned her master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering, she stood on the shoulders of her grandfather, whose groundbreaking journey at Georgia Tech paved the way for future generations.

Ronald Yancey’s legacy is etched into the history of Georgia Tech, commemorated by a statue in Clough Commons, symbolizing his role in breaking barriers and fostering inclusivity at the institution.

Reflecting on her achievement, Deanna remarked:

“He’s broken barriers and he’s opened doors that I will never have to experience opening myself.”

Her decision to pursue her master’s degree at Georgia Tech, following her undergraduate studies at Penn State, underscores the university’s reputation as a premier institution for engineering education.

Ronald Yancey, Georgia Tech’s first Black graduate, presents his granddaughter Deanna her diploma at her commencement ceremony on Friday, May 3, 2024. 

On the day of her graduation, Deanna not only received her diploma but also experienced the pride of being congratulated by her grandfather, Ronald Yancey, who presented it to her.

Grateful for the opportunities afforded to her by Georgia Tech, Deanna expressed her heartfelt appreciation for her grandfather’s enduring legacy.

Ronald Yancey’s resilience and determination continue to inspire students at Georgia Tech, serving as a testament to the transformative power of education and the enduring impact of familial support.

As Deanna aptly stated:

“It’s just beyond me how someone could be so strong in such a hard time,” reflecting on her grandfather’s remarkable journey and the enduring legacy he has created.

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