Convocation Sunday is a deeply rooted Hampton U. tradition

By Malik Smith

Hampton University is a school that is deeply rooted in history and tradition. With the 69th annual Opening Convocation quickly approaching, the school’s past, present and future graduates will have a chance to celebrate one of Hampton’s most treasured events.

The ceremony is the official opening of the school, complete with a guest speaker, and often times returning alumni. It’s also the first chance for graduating seniors to don caps and gowns; in a sort of pre-graduation ceremony.

Terrell Robinson, a senior engineering major from New Jersey, plans to attend the ceremony and has already picked up his cap and gown. Robinson will be more relieved than anything come this Sunday. He said his major is one of the more demanding areas of study on campus and he’s been required to take heavy course loads at times during his tenure. So for him the ceremony is the beginning of the end of a long journey: “It signifies the start of graduation. It has its purpose.” Robinson said he likes that the ceremony lets people involved – mainly the seniors – feel included.

Lauren Kendrick, a senior broadcast journalism major from Maryland, said she is excited that she will have a chance to wear her cap and gown because it “makes the moment that much more real.” Kendrick sees this as a wake-up call for students who have grown complacent with college life and the last stretch for those who are ready for their future. “[It serves] as that last-minute motivation and reminder that you need to finish,” Kendrick said.

She also understands the tradition behind convocation. Her grandparents graduated from Hampton in the 1950s and although they will not be attending she is happy that she will be one step closer to where they are.
With all of the excitement going on about the ceremony and what it means, there are some seniors who do not plan to attend.

Lamarr Hill, an engineering major, is one of the people not attending Sunday’s ceremony. Hill has been to Opening Convocation on more than one occasion, but said he won’t attend this year because he still has one year to go with his program. Hill does, however, like the ceremony.

“It’s not like it is graduation,” he said. “It’s cool for the people who are graduating.”

The ceremony’s speaker, JoAnn Haysbert, Ph.D., was once Hampton’s provost and briefly served as the acting president. Two faculty members, Assistant Professor Wayne Dawkins, of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, and Godson Nwokogu, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Chemistry, will receive Edward L. Hamm Sr. teaching awards.

Regardless of class, Opening Convocation is big for all parties involved.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications