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19-year-old Bowie State University Student to Graduate – After Only Two Years

December 12, 2018
Aliyah Bynoe Started as a Junior by Taking College Courses in High School

MEDIA CONTACT: Damita Chambers,, 301-832-2628 mobile

(BOWIE, Md.) – Like most seniors, Aliyah Bynoe is counting down the days until she walks across the stage to claim her bachelor’s degree from Bowie State University. Over the past few weeks, she and her classmates have taken their final exams, picked up their commencement regalia and even posed for senior photos in their favorite campus spots. Unlike her fellow members of the class of 2018, she will graduate with honors at only 19 years old.

Aliyah Bynoe

Bynoe is one of more than 400 students to receive their degrees on Friday at Bowie State University's Winter Commencement ceremony in the Leonidas S. James Physical Education Complex.

After Bynoe earned a high school diploma and an associate’s degree through special program at York Early College Academy in Jamaica, New York, she enrolled at BSU in 2016 as a junior communications major, with concentration in broadcast journalism. After visiting campus during a historically black college and university (HBCU) tour in the 11th grade, she was drawn to the university’s small class sizes and tight-knit community. “I wanted to be myself, and Bowie gave that opportunity to meet people, to network and to get comfortable,” she said.

During that same visit, she met Dr. Otis Thomas, chair of the Department of Communications, who she now credits for her success at Bowie State. His mentorship and guidance have been a great support along the way. “He has always looked out for me, encouraged me and given me opportunities to try different things.”

Dr. Thomas found Bynoe to be a dedicated student who loved to learn. “She is committed to learning every ounce of information she can in the world of communications,” he said. “She worked well under pressure and is a critical thinker. She always has a smile on her face.”

Though schoolwork has always been her first priority, Bynoe spent much of her free time working for campus media. The hands-on experience at WBSU radio and BSU-TV have equipped her for the road ahead as she plans to study screenwriting this fall in graduate school and pursue her dream career in the film industry.

Aliyah Bynoe smiles as she sits in the WBSU radio studio

Films from award-winning directors Ava DuVernay, Spike Lee and Steven Spielberg sparked Bynoe’s interest in making movies. Her ultimate goal is to bring more diversity to the big screen. “I would love to be another black female director because there are not a lot of them out there to help tell our stories... when I look at TV and movies, I hardly ever see myself in a role that doesn’t involve being a slave or a maid or just a background character.”

In addition to being a catalyst for change as a screenwriter, Bynoe is also motivated to succeed in part to be a good role model for her younger brother. “I want my little brother to know that you can do anything. Whatever you want to be, if you really go after it, there are no limitations.”



About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, criminal justice, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit