Amani Guerrier possesses a legacy of academic
aspiration that stretches more than 70 years.
When Amani Guerrier graduates from the Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Nursing on Saturday, Dec. 12, she will be walking in familiar footsteps.
The 21-year-old Tallahassee resident is the fourth generation of her family to graduate from the University. Her great grandmother and great grandfather, grandmother and mother are all FAMU grads. Hers is a legacy of academic aspiration that stretches back more than 70 years.
“It means a lot to my great grandfather. It would be nice to live long enough to see what my legacy is,” said Guerrier, who plans to take the nursing licensing boards in January before moving to Atlanta to pursue her nursing career. She is one of more than 600 graduates who will be featured in the 2020 FAMU Fall Virtual Commencement Ceremony. The event will be shown live on FAMU-TV 20, FAMU’s YouTube and Facebook pages, as well as the FAMU Mobile App. FAMU alum U.S. Rep. David Scott of Georgia is the commencement speaker.
In 2018, weeks before she earned her diploma from Lincoln High School, Guerrier received her associate’s at Tallahassee Community College. Originally, she was going to study pharmacy since one of her aunts is a pharmacist. After some research, Guerrier chose nursing instead.
“It’s a great profession. I’m never going to be bored,” she said. “I’m never going to be out of a job, and I’m doing something meaningful and positively contributing to society.”
Guerrier’s family’s origins run deep in Leon County, Florida, where her maternal great, great, great grandparents were born in the 1800s. Her forebears also have deep ties to FAMU. Her great grandfather, Ralph Wilson, retired African Methodist Episcopal presiding elder, first entered FAMU as a freshman in 1955. But family financial difficulties forced him to drop out.
At the time, Wilson told then-Dean of Students Benjamin L. Perry, Ph.D., he would return to graduate. He did. Fifteen years later, in December 1970, when Wilson graduated with a degree in accounting, Perry was president of FAMU.
In the interim, Wilson encouraged his wife, Justine Deloris Walker-Wilson, to enroll at FAMU. Guerrier’s great grandmother, Walker-Wilson, graduated in June 1969, with a bachelor’s in elementary education, a year before her husband. She taught in Calhoun and Leon county schools before succumbing to breast cancer in 1974.
Their daughter, Guerrier’s grandmother, Sonja Wilson Cummings, was born in FAMU Hospital, now the Foote-Hilyer Administration Building, and attended FAMU High. Cummings, who entered FAMU in adult life, graduated in December 1989 with a bachelor’s in health and physical education. Cummings is a realtor and general contractor in South Florida.
Guerrier’s mom, JoShonda Reece Guerrier, earned her bachelor’s in social work from FAMU in December 1994. A former Florida assistant secretary for child welfare, Reece Guerrier is an administrator for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.
Guerrier’s graduation, 50 years after his own, warms Wilson’s heart.
“At her first convocation, I reminded her she would be the fourth generation to attend FAMU,” said Wilson, who worked in various departments at FAMU over the years. “It makes me real proud.”