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Rakeem Christmas Graduates

Thousands of students will pack into the Carrier dome on Sunday to receive their degrees from Syracuse University, including dozens of athletes.

A beautiful May day and you could feel graduation fever sweeping across the S.U. quad.  Here they were gathering many of the graduating student athletes to capture this special time.  One person stood out among them, and not just because he's six foot nine.  Rakeem Christmas has been a star on the S.U. basketball team all three years he's been on campus.  He's about to become the first person anyone can find from the program to earn his degree in three years.

" Its just an honor to be able to do something like this and like you said a lot of people think us athletes come here to play sports, we don't go to class but its not true, we put in a lot of hard work and dedication in a classroom." Says Christmas.

Christmas says when he's not on the court he's focused on getting to class and his work done.  For away games he tries to do as much before the trip as he can, but an adviser always finds time and space for him to study on the road.  It was never something he set out to do, but says when he found out he was close, he went for it.

" I lived with my aunt most of my life and she graduated from college in four years so I wanted to one up her, so that was one of my big things.  They all were happy, my family, my dad and my aunt, they're proud of me.  My grandmom, she's back in the Virgin Islands, she texts me all the time saying how proud she is of me.  I'm just happy to make my family happy." Remarks Christmas.

Christmas says he has a few credits to finish up and he'll do that in the upcoming May semester, then he plans to head home to Philly, something he hasn't done the past few summers.  He stayed on campus, worked out, took courses and earned credits.

" Its just going to be a great feeling just getting down there for myself and being able to walk across the stage."

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