FAMU Student Who Posed In Controversial Grad Photos Finally Receives Degree

Photo: Getty Images

A Florida A&M University student who appeared to pose nude in graduation photos taken on campus is finally receiving her degree months after the HBCU launched an investigation into the incident.

According to NBC6, FAMU student Terica Williams will receive her master’s degree in counselor education, which was previously up in the air due to her controversial graduation pictures that went viral on social media.

Williams took the photos in front of a statue of the Rattler, the school's snake mascot, not long after her spring graduation ceremony. Her Instagram post quickly garnered national attention as she had seemingly bared all on campus, wearing only a Medusa-inspired wig and heels for the photoshoot.

Williams said the photos showed her creative side. In her Instagram caption, she urged her followers to “embrace their bodies and step outside social norms.”

“I took one next to the snake statute that represents me shedding like a snake into my new chapter,” Williams told NBC6.

"What was unique about that photo was that I appeared to be nude and I had snakes coming out of my head," she continued.

As the photo gained traction online, Williams said the university informed her that her master’s diploma would be delayed, even though she had satisfied all of the requirements.

"Their words were there would be a trial to decide if I violated any student code of conduct," Williams said. "I was a little shocked because I didn’t feel like I violated any rules."

"To me it was a complete violation of her First Amendment right of expression,” said attorney David Kubiliun.

Kubiliun and Scott Egleston, a second attorney, said Williams wasn't actually nude but was wearing a nude-colored body suit in the photo.

"When she took that picture there was no one around the campus. So, it's not like she disrupted school functions, which is what the school initially said," Kubiliun said. "Secondly, that she violated a law which was confirmed by the school’s police department that she was not in any violation of any Florida Statute."

Williams said for months she was unable to seize work opportunities with mental counseling facilities due to the delay of her master’s degree.

"I wasn’t able to move forward with the process because I did not have the degree to present," she said.

Amid FAMU's investigation, Williams appeared before a university board in September, which just recently ruled in her favor.

"I feel amazing, overjoyed," she said of the ruling on Friday (November 18).

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