FAMU Grad Student Who Was Denied Degree Over Viral Nude Photo Will Finally Receive It
After denying graduate student Terica Williams her master's degree, Florida A&M has changed its mind and will now give it to her.
Williams took a nude photo this spring at the Florida school's landmark, which went viral and delayed her from pursuing her career.
Williams felt she was expressing her creativity and even participated in the graduation ceremony at FAMU, NBC Miami reported. But the university thought differently.
"I took one next to the snake statute that represents me shedding like a snake into my new chapter," she said.
Her picture was taken by the landmark snake synonymous with FAMU's nickname, the Rattlers. She then posted the nude photo on her social media.
"What was unique about that photo was that I appeared to be nude and I had snakes coming out of my head," Williams said.
Williams said after the photo circulated online, the school told her that her master's diploma would be held up, despite her meeting all the graduation 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 attorney Scott Egleston said Williams was not naked when she took the picture but was wearing a nude-colored body suit.
"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 the delay caused her to gain internships with mental counseling facilities without 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.
"She was unjustly treated by the university for not giving her her diploma which she rightfully earned," Kubiliun said.
Williams went before a university board at the end of the summer to plead her case. FAMU ended up ruling in her favor, and now she's waiting on the diploma so she can show it to potential counseling firms.
"I feel amazing, overjoyed," she said Friday.
NBC 6 contacted FAMU's legal office and the public information department multiple times but never heard back from them about the decision to send Williams her master's degree seven months later.
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