FAMU Graduate Receives Master's Degree After School Withheld It Over Viral Nude Photo
“I was a little shocked because I didn’t feel like I violated any rules,” Williams said.
by Danteé Ramos
November 21, 2022 at 9:23 pm
After Twitter think pieces, cryptic messages, and possibly losing her degree, Florida A&M University (FAMU) graduate Terica Williams, 24, finally received her degree — following months of discourse over her viral nude graduation photo.
Florida A&M intervened, attempting to revoke her master’s degree after Williams appeared nude posing next to the campus mascot in the spring. The entire case delayed Williams from starting her career.
Williams explained that the photo symbolized her shedding skin and embarking onto greater pastures following graduation but FAMU and the internet thought otherwise.
— IG: TericaStar 🔭 (@TericaStar) November 20, 2022
“I took one next to the snake statute that represents me shedding like a snake into my new chapter,” she said.
“What was unique about that photo was that I appeared to be nude and I had snakes coming out of my head,” Williams said.
The photo circulated both on Twitter and Instagram making it viral on both social platforms leading the university to contact her regarding her master’s diploma being held until further investigation, even though she had met all the institution’s requirements.
“Their words were there would be a trial to decide if I violated any student code of conduct,” Williams told NBC. “I was a little shocked because I didn’t feel like I violated any rules.”
Attorneys David Kubiliun and Scott Egleston worked on Williams’s case and argued she was not nude in the photo.
“To me, it was a complete violation of her First Amendment right of expression,” Kubiliun said about Williams’s degree being withheld from her.
— IG: TericaStar 🔭 (@TericaStar) October 23, 2022
Kubiliun and Egleston said Williams was not in the nude during her photo shoot but instead, 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.”
In September, Williams appeared before a university pleading her case and created a thread of videos featuring court updates for her followers. After a few weeks, FAMU ruled in her favor.
“I wasn’t able to move forward with the process because I did not have the degree to present,” Williams said.
“She was unjustly treated by the university by not giving her her diploma which she rightfully earned,” Kubiliun said.
Williams is “overjoyed” as she waits on her diploma to come in so she can present it to potential counseling firms.