Ludacris celebrates a new honor: Georgia State bachelor’s degree

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Georgia State University awarded Chris “Ludacris” Bridges an honorary degree at Masters commencement at Center Parc Stadium. Video by Ryon Horne

Acclaimed Atlanta entertainer Chris “Ludacris” Bridges has won numerous awards for his rap music and acting. But he said few honors meant as much as the honorary bachelor’s degree he received Wednesday from Georgia State University.

Bridges enrolled at Georgia State in 1996, but left two yeas later to pursue a music career when he was signed by Def Jam Records, the home of hip-hop legends like LL Cool J and Public Enemy.

“I went to this school and I never finished my credits,” Bridges said in an interview after the ceremony. “For them to come back and give me this honorary degree, it means the world to me, just for the simple fact that I always knew I wanted to come back. I always wanted to finish. I’m not a person who starts things and doesn’t finish. For me, it’s a full circle moment.”

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Rapper and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges greets faculty members as he enters the commencement ceremony at Center Parc Stadium on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. Georgia State University awarded Chris “Ludacris” Bridges an honorary bachelor's degree. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Rapper and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges greets faculty members as he enters the commencement ceremony at Center Parc Stadium on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. Georgia State University awarded Chris “Ludacris” Bridges an honorary bachelor's degree.  (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
Rapper and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges greets faculty members as he enters the commencement ceremony at Center Parc Stadium on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. Georgia State University awarded Chris “Ludacris” Bridges an honorary bachelor's degree. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Bridges, who received a music management degree Wednesday, has been involved academically with Georgia State in several ways in recent years. He’s been an artist-in-residence at the university since 2019, mentoring students and working with professors in its Creative Media Industries Institute.

In addition, the university’s College of Law created a class called “The Legal Life of Ludacris,” to teach students about aspects of the music industry, such as negotiating contracts.

The university’s president, M. Brian Blake, a longtime Ludacris fan, said Bridges is “an example that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.”

Bridges, dressed in a black cap and gown, drew cheers from graduates and guests as he walked with university leaders to the stage for the two-hour ceremony for its roughly 900 master’s degree recipients, held at its Center Parc Stadium.

“GSU, I am home right now,” he said near the start of his 15-minute commencement address.

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Rapper and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges holds up his honorary bachelor’s degree during a commencement ceremony at Center Parc Stadium on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Rapper and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges holds up his honorary bachelor’s degree during a commencement ceremony at Center Parc Stadium on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
Rapper and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges holds up his honorary bachelor’s degree during a commencement ceremony at Center Parc Stadium on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Bridges said he learned several lessons about the music industry at Georgia State that helped him through his career.

Bridges quoted Mark Twain and Jeremiah 29:11 from the Bible, which references “plans to give you hope and a future.“ He encouraged the graduates to find their passion and pursue it. He also implored them to become leaders in their communities.

“Our society wants positive change. They’re clamoring for it. They’re not satisfied with the status quo at all,” he told the audience.

To their delight, Bridges delivered the chorus from one of his biggest hits, “Welcome to Atlanta.”

“Welcome to Atlanta where the players play.”

Many rapped along with him.

Bridges’ wife, mother and daughters attended the ceremony. He recalled the concern his mother had when he told her he was leaving school to pursue a music career.

“Mama,” he said. “I made it.”

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