Three “sons” of Saint Augustine’s University marked the official start of the school’s 148th year at a convocation ceremony on Thursday.
Speaking before a large crowd on a warm sunny day, Dr. Everett Ward, a 1981 graduate of the school who was named interim president last spring, urged students to “go beyond their own boundaries.” He told them they could make the most of the college experience by setting ambitious goals.
Dr. Ward’s message was echoed by the convocation’s featured speaker, Dr. Brian O. Hemphill, a 1992 graduate of Saint Augustine’s who is now president of West Virginia State University. “Set long term goals,” Hemphill told the crowd of about 300 students, faculty members and guests. “Then commit yourself to bringing those goals to life.”
The third “son” of Saint Augustine’s to speak at the ceremony was Senior Class President Michael Thomas. “If there is no enemy within, no enemy on the outside can do us harm.” Thomas also urged students to not wait for the “perfect time” to do great things. “The perfect moment never comes,” he said. “You have to create it.”
This was the 148th Convocation held at Saint Augustine’s Raleigh campus. Convocations are a tradition in academia, according to Vickie Wilson, assistant to the Provost. They mark the official “opening academic year,” she explained, “introducing freshmen to the University and sets the tone for the academic year and is the first time seniors are in their robes.”
Students were impressed by the convocation ceremony. “This year’s convocation was better than previous years because of the intimate setup and the involvement of the crowd,” said Diamond Brooks, a senior sociology major.
Shaia Scott, a senior accounting major, said Dr. Hemphill’s speech resonated with her. He “was very relatable and genuine in his speech. I connected with his message because I am also a first generation student just like him. It’s a great feeling to know that I’m not alone.”
Raneka Dunaway, a junior sociology major, said the student speakers were a source of inspiration. They “appeared to be very at ease during their speeches,” she said. “They seemed very proud to attend Saint Augustine’s University and I loved to see that.”
— Staff reports