USA's Freshman Class Gathers for Convocation, Group Photo, Week of Welcome

Posted on August 19, 2015
Joy Washington

The University of South Alabama Class of 2019 gathered Monday morning for a group photo at the USA Mitchell Center. data-lightbox='featured'
The University of South Alabama Class of 2019 gathered Monday morning for a group photo at the USA Mitchell Center. For a full-size photo, click on the cloud icon at the bottom right of the photo. Download larger image

As students, faculty and staff entered the Mitchell Center Arena at the University of South Alabama to attend Convocation on Monday, Aug. 17, they were greeted by the upbeat sounds and cheers of the Jaguar Marching Band, cheerleaders and the dance team. Convocation gave the University family time to celebrate the start of a new academic year by welcoming the class of 2019 and new faculty.

The Convocation also marked the beginning of a tradition to unify the freshman class and help new students be successful. The event was part of USA’s Week of Welcome, designed to connect students with the people, places, and groups that make USA special.

Dr. Michael Mitchell, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, opened up the Convocation ceremony by recognizing the class of 2019, who sat front and center and even in the seats on the sides of the arena floor, as more than 1,200 attended the event.

“I am so happy to welcome you to the University of South Alabama,” he said. “You are now Jaguars!"

During the energized Convocation ceremony, President Dr. Tony Waldrop welcomed students with a positive and engaging message, along with empowering student speakers and inspiring words from alumni who expressed success is the University’s top priority.

“We want you to take advantage of a full college experience while at South Alabama,” Waldrop said. “We are here to make sure you have the support you need academically and to graduate in four years. But, while you are here, we want you to get involved on campus and in the local community by volunteering your time. Overall, we are a global society, and we know you will make a difference in the world.”

Ravi Rajendra, president of the Student Government Association, was excited to welcome new students.

“You have the opportunity to weave the future that you want at South Alabama,” he said. “Students, faculty and staff are here to help you as you transition.”

In addition, alumnus Nick Lawkis, assistant director of governmental affairs, challenged students during a fun and memorable exercise. He held up a Jag cooler with a variety of Jag items and 20 one-dollar bills. He said to the students, “Don’t be afraid to ask for it.” While some students raised their hands waiting to be selected, freshman Jade Langley, a business major from Tallassee, Ala., jumped to his feet running and grabbed the cooler from Lawkis. The crowd cheered as Langley took a chance and seized the moment.

Other highlights of the morning were when the class of 2019 met to take the official class photo, along USA Writer-in-Residence Frye Gaillard speaking at Convocation about his book “Cradle of Freedom,” which has been selected as the featured book for the 2015-2016 Common Read program. Another highlight was when everyone learned the Jaguar “Fight Song” and sung the Alma Mater during Convocation.

The Week of Welcome Committee, to include faculty, staff and students, planned Convocation. The committee was led by co-chairs Drs. Nicole Carr, executive director of student academic success, and Krista Harrell, associate dean of students and title IX coordinator.

Following Convocation, lunch was served near the Waterman Globe at the Mitchell Center.

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