University of Arkansas at Little Rock students, professors, and administrators shared their secrets for success as they welcomed new students to campus during the Freshman Convocation Aug. 17 in University Theatre.
The Freshman Convocation is an annual tradition offered by UA Little Rock Student Affairs to mark the beginning of students’ academic journey.
“An academic convocation is a solemn ceremony that invokes centuries of tradition in higher education while serving as a significant event in the lives of new students,” said Dr. Velmer Burton Jr., executive vice chancellor and provost of UA Little Rock. “Our robes and colorful hoods both symbolized significant events in higher education and honor the long-standing, historic role of teacher and scholar.”
Lucee Lugo, a senior interdisciplinary studies major and member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Corps, said she Googled great Freshman Convocation advice many times in order “to come up with something so great that you would remember it four years from now,” but decided to leave students with three tips that helped her make it through college: the importance of getting involved; know your university, and the importance of knowing yourself.
“College can be tricky to navigate at times, and it can be hard to figure out where you belong,” Lugo said. “Find a club or student organization and just jump in. I never pictured myself as someone who would join a sorority, but I found that if you surround yourself with people who share the same beliefs as you and who are in your corner, it just makes life better.”
Additionally, Lugo advised new students to “know your university” by becoming familiar with the resources the university provides, such as health and counseling services, writing centers, and student organizations, and to ask for help when needed.
Finally, Lugo advised students to make the right choices in their new freedom at college.
“You no longer have a parent or guardian looking over your shoulder,” she said. “Make sure you make a choice that is best for you.”
Chancellor Andrew Rogerson bestowed his wisdom on students with advice for succeeding in their college careers, including:
Own your education and make it yours
Experience new things, people, and places
Use this as a starting point for your future and rest of your life
Make an impact in everything you do
Go to class. You have to be in it to win it
Take advantage of the educational and cultural aspects of Little Rock and the university
Consider taking 15 credit hours per semester so you can graduate in four years
“Regardless of where your heart lies, I encourage you to choose a major early on. It really helps you to connect when you choose a major, and remember that there are many to choose from,” Rogerson said. “You have to take this opportunity you have been given seriously and take your degree seriously. You might be the first in your family to attend university and don’t know what to expect. Do not be scared to ask for help from faculty, staff, and everyone. We are all Trojans, and we look out for each other. I congratulate you on your choice of university.”
Dr. David Briscoe, professor of sociology, served as the faculty keynote speaker for the convocation.
“I am here to inform you that I do not think you could find a better university in the nation that cares as much for its students as UA Little Rock,” he said. “The university administration, faculty, and staff are a caring group who desire for you to succeed in every course that you take and every degree that you earn. I am very excited for each of you, for each of you have taken that first step on your academic journey.”
He offered some practical advice for students to be successful at the start of their academic pilgrimage at UA Little Rock.
“Be happy for the opportunity to be here at UA Little Rock. Learn all you can while you can. There are so many other individuals who would love to be in your shoes right now,” Briscoe said.
“In closing, remember UA Little Rock is not only an institution dedicated to learning, but it’s also a vibrant community. Within this community, be helpful to all with a servant attitude as you never know when you might need help. Sometimes, standing up for what is right is not always popular, nor is it always easy. Doing what is right is evident that you are an individual of high character. Last but not least, but most important, be committed and dedicated to your faith, not only in word but in deed. I wish you a blessed academic journey at UA Little Rock.”
As students left the convocation, UA Little Rock deans and administrators presented them with a Class of 2022 pin to wear as a symbol of the beginning of their academic journey and a reminder of their commitment to academic success leading up to their graduation in four years.
“I was once 18, a long time ago, dizzy with the freedom I had been given, but I never missed class, never missed an assignment,” Rogerson recalled. “Higher education opens doors you can’t imagine. Get on board and enjoy the ride.”