You determine your own fate in life – that was the message for students in the Convocation address delivered by Venessa Harrison, president of AT&T North Carolina. The event, held Sept. 24 in the Emery Gymnasium, marked the official opening of the academic year and is a cornerstone of freshman year, guiding students as they transition from high school to college and helping them to see the work they have to do to be where the seniors are now.
Convocation also gives seniors a moment to reflect on their experiences at the university and to get them excited as they begin the last leg of their academic journey.
Marking the start of Saint Augustine’s 148th year, the Convocation also included powerful remarks from President Everett B. Ward, who urged students to make the most of their education and feel tremendous pride in being members of the Falcon Family.
The festivities were also punctuated by selections from the school’s choir.
The featured speaker, Ms. Harrison, was introduced by Henry Capers, president of the Student Government Association, who had been a summer intern with AT&T. After praising Capers for knowledge, skill and work ethic, Ms. Harrison She opened her speech by congratulating freshman for making it to Saint Augustine’s University and thanking seniors for all they have contributed to the school. She told them of her own humble beginnings – Ms. Harrison was raised in Southeast Raleigh in a low-income neighborhood and did not complete her college education on the first try – and said students should not let obstacles keep them from achieving what they want to achieve.
“Who you hold in your imagination is who you will become,” she said.
Ms. Harrison also spoke about her connections to Saint Augustine’s University. She was born at Saint Agnes Hospital, her husband was a faculty member at Saint Augustine’s, and her daughter was featured in a documentary about the tw of the school’s most famous alums, the Delany sisters.
Harrison urged students to take advantage not only of the education the university offers, but the relationships it fosters. “It doesn’t matter how large your tree of knowledge is on this campus but rather how deep your roots run,” she said. “You are a Falcon and what do Falcons do? They soar and they soar high.”
Students’ reaction to the speech was positive. “Venessa Harrison was a very empowering speaker for convocation,” said Regina Francis, a senior psychology major. “She gave great words of encouragement and inspired greatness with her speech. She was one of the best convocation speakers since I’ve been attending Saint Augustine’s.”
— Christian Roberson