On Aug. 21, NSU hosted its annual convocation in the Arena at the Don Taft University Center to welcome new students. This year, NSU decided to revamp the tradition to make students feel more included in the NSU community and excited for the new academic year.
“I loved the feel and the vibe to it. It reminded me of my graduation in high school and it felt really home-y,” said Sheila Timothee, freshman exercise and sports science major. “I knew what NSU had to offer, but now with convocation, I see how family-oriented the school is. I don’t think you can get that from other universities.”
Frank Magnerich, assistant director for student communication and support, assisted with convocation and commencement and said that this is the first year NSU had a more formal convocation. Previously, a different department would plan the ceremony each year, which made the proceedings inconsistent for each class. Magnerich said NSU decided it was time to demonstrate a more unified tradition.
Convocation’s new traditions include the “ringing of the bell” to declare the beginning of the academic year, a more formal ceremony and a gift for new students. NSU faculty attended in their commencement regalia and incoming students received a white stole and gold shark pin to recognize the start of the academic year. Students can acquire more pins throughout their tenure at NSU through organization involvement and Magnerich said the intention is for students to wear the stoles and pins at their graduation.
“We want to mark the beginning of the year for the new Sharks,” he said. “[The stole and pin] just symbolize the beginning and the end of their journey at NSU.”
In the past, commencement was more of an informational session where students received a recap of the information they received at their orientations and students didn’t receive anything tangible to take away from the event. Magnerich said he hopes the stole is a memory they can keep with them forever.
Many students felt that the new elements to the ceremony are positive additions to convocation.
“It’s cool that we’ll get to have the stole and pin for the next four years and wear them at graduation,” said Mariah Knowles, freshman finance major. “As far as I know, no other school does this.”
Cherokie Boyd, senior biology major, wishes her graduating class had a similar ceremony. Her convocation was more informational and she said this year’s made it possible for people to envision themselves walking across the stage at graduation.
“I’m glad they’re doing a new tradition,” she said. “I know it made all of the freshmen feel really special with their stole. It’s a great way to start the year.”
Magnerich said he’s proud of several key moments in the ceremony, including the singing of NSU’s alma mater. Bill Adams, associate professor in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Department of Performing and Visual Arts, was originally supposed to sing the alma mater by himself. Instead, he invited all attendees to sing along with him.
“He took the initiative to have the community sing back to him and I think it turned out wonderful,” Magnerich said. “I’ve never heard so many people sing it at once.”
Many of the new Sharks had positive feedback for convocation.
Kadeem Hall and Mavrick Powell, freshman biology majors, said they really enjoyed how traditional and welcoming the ceremony was.
“I feel like they want to include us in the NSU traditions,” Hall said. “They emphasized the core values, which I really respect because it’s something important to the school.”
“I feel like I’m really a part of the Shark family,” Powell said.
Magnerich said NSU plans on having the same proceedings in the future.
“There’s never an end to being a shark with us,” he said.