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  • E-News U. Contributor 2:25 pm on September 26, 2010 Permalink |  

    Convocation marks beginning of end for early graduation candidates 

    By Danyelle Gary

    Students will soon be adorning their caps and gowns for Hampton University’s Opening Convocation ceremony, but Kayla Blades intends to wear hers a tad bit earlier; a year earlier to be exact.

    Blades and a few other students are on track to graduate a full year earlier than expected. 

    “I chose to graduate early for financial reasons,” said Blades, a senior criminal justice major from Brooklyn, N.Y. “Rather than pay for a full year, I decided to go to summer school for one semester.”

    Charles Graves IV, a senior political science major from Baltimore, has other reasons for wanting to leave HU sooner rather than later.

    “[Graduating early] is a challenge,” said Graves, “and I always like to challenge myself.” 

     He is looking forward to attending divinity school and possibly law school and discovering what else is out there beyond his “Home by the Sea.”

    And, he said, “I just think it’s time to move on.”

    Graduating early is not an easy task. Finding a way to balance 19 or more credit hours – an exception to the maximum 18-credit load – participation in school activities, and an active social life requires sacrifices.

    “It’s tough. Sometimes I want to go out,” said Graves, “but I have to stay in and finish a paper.”

    Blades, however, has found a way to maintain her 3.4 GPA without forfeiting her time with friends.

    “I’m able to balance it,” she said. “I still have a social life.”

    With moving on to the career world, some students find it hard to keep in touch with friends, and for Graves and Blades, this doesn’t seem to be any easier. Since they are graduating with the class of 2011, they are leaving many of the friends they started college with behind.

    “I’m really going to miss being able to see my friends every day,” Graves said.

    “I’m going to miss my friends and just being away and being independent,” said Blades.

    With HU’s 68th Opening Convocation ceremony taking place Sunday, the official start of the last year for graduating seniors comes into full affect. It is during this ceremony that the president of the university recognizes the achievement of the new seniors and an appointed speaker addresses an audience filled with family, friends, and soon-to-be graduates.

    “I’m looking forward to it because it’s an important hallmark that honors my time here,” Graves said, “but I recognize that the degree isn’t in my hand yet; there’s still time left to go.”

    Last year, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address to over 1,000 graduates, but Blades prefers a more intimate setting for her forthcoming ceremony.

    “I don’t want that whole ‘every-student-can-only-get seven tickets’ thing,” she said. “I just want a simple graduation so my whole family can come.”

    With the anticipation of wearing the cap and gown for the first time in front of peers and family, Graves begins to reflect on past convocation experiences, and how this time things will be a little different.  

    “I can remember seeing seniors proceed in and look forward to the day I could do it, too,” he said. “Of course know I will be proceeding in and someone will be watching me.”

    The writer is a junior at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

  • E-News U. Contributor 5:51 am on September 26, 2010 Permalink |  

    A Convocation story: Choir’s perspective 

    By Alaya Boykin

    The combined Hampton University choirs sing at annual ceremonies like Convocation, Founders’ Day, and Commencement. The university choir, gospel choir, and concert choir members sit through tedious combined rehearsals one week before the ceremony to learn new music with complex arrangements. “A lot work goes into producing a stellar performance,” said Royzell Dillard, director of university choirs.

     “The most important part of singing at Convocation is looking like you know what you’re doing and that you’ve been doing it for years,” said Yaniel Sargeant, a senior public relations major from Montclair, N.J. “There’s not a lot of time to practice, so you have to be committed. I think it’s our dedication that makes us sound good on the actual day.”

    Convocation is really important because it sets the tone for graduating seniors. “Having our cap and gown on for the first time is that much more of a reality check that it’s our time. We’re also setting an example for underclassmen. It’s making a statement to just be there and it’s another to be a graduating senior in choir,” said Sargeant.

    Today, Sept. 26, is Convocation Sunday. 

    Chiara Murray, a senior psychology major from Newark,

    N.J., says that the choir is the live entertainment at the Convocation ceremony. Murray has personally felt the effect the choir has on an audience: “I’ve heard people say that they come to hear us sing.”

    “There’s a certain standard and choir legacy that has already been set, so we work hard to live up to it at ceremonies like Convocation,” said Sargeant. At Convocation, it’s the choir’s main goal to inspire, especially the graduating seniors. This year, one of the selections is the African- American spiritual “Hold On” by Uzze Brown.

    “I think Mr. Dillard makes selections purposefully,” said Murray. “He keeps in mind that it’s still Sunday morning and even if there’s not a spoken spiritual word, there’s still room for spiritual influence through song.”

    Both Sargeant and Murray reminisce on years past when they were in choir watching the seniors sit on the front row on stage, and they couldn’t wait until it was their turn.

    “It’s always been funny to watch the seniors in the audience and on stage get their ‘church shout’ on whenever someone mentions their class on the mic,” Murray said. “I can’t believe that’s going to be now.”

    “The significance of being a graduating senior in choir at Convocation is that you feel like you’ve paid your dues and you’ve finally arrived,” said Sargeant. “You’re sitting amongst everyone and it gives you a legitimate status in choir. Just by sitting there you’re setting an example,”

    Murray describes the choir experience as being part of a very close-knit family: “It’s going to be so great to have them clapping for me now. I feel like I’ve made it now and I’m telling them, ‘you can too.’”        

    The writer is a junior at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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